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Russian missile explodes after test launch

Written by: Staff

MOSCOW, Oct 25 (Reuters) Russia's newest intercontinental ballistic missile, which military sources said was successfully tested today, actually fell into the sea several minutes into its flight, Russia's navy said.

The failed test comes after the latest series of mishaps at Russia's navy, once the focus of national pride and symbol of its military might.

Navy sources told local news agencies earlier today that the Bulava missile had been launched from a nuclear submarine in the White Sea and flew nearly the length of the giant nation to the Kura military testing site in the Far East.

''Several minutes after the launch the missile veered off its planned trajectory. Apparently, its self-destruction system was enacted and the rocket fell into the sea,'' a navy spokesman told Reuters.

''A special commission, including Defence Ministry officials and Bulava designers, will conduct an investigation to find out what caused the failure.'' Local news agencies quoted navy officials earlier as saying the Bulava missile had been successfully launched at 1705 Moscow time 1835 hrs IST from the nuclear submarine Dmitry Donskoy.

''The test launch itself, made from a submerged position, went off without a hitch,'' the navy spokesman said. ''The submarine's crew coped with (this) task all right.'' Bulava's previous launch last month was a failure -- the rocket fired from a submarine in the Pacific fell into the sea.

Adding to the navy's humiliation, a fire on a nuclear powered submarine killed two crew members the same month.

Bulava is a flagship project intended to be an equivalent to the US Trident, according to Russian media.

Russia's submarine fleet is the world's second largest after the United States and is a key part in Russia's defence shield.

Reuters PB DB2140

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