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Another Russian Dud

September 11th, 2013 - 10:41 am

Moscow is still having serious teething problemsBulava Launch with their new sea-launched nuclear missiles:

On September 6th Russia tested another of its Bulava (also known as R-30 3M30 and SS-NX-30) SLBMs (Sea Launched Ballistic Missile) and after about a minute of flight the Bulava failed and had to be destroyed. This was supposed to be a final test for Bulava, as well as for the second and third of the new Borei class SSBNs (ballistic missile nuclear subs or “boomers”). The Defense Ministry promptly ordered five more Bulava tests and delayed commissioning of the two new Boreis. This is but the latest in a decade of failures in developing a new SLBM for a new generation of SSBNs.

There’s talk of going back to the tried-and-true liquid-fueled Sineva SLBM, but that would cost billions to refit the Boreis and cause years of delays in putting them out on deterrence patrols.

Russia has a big problem here, bigger than missiles that don’t fly or submarines with the wrong-size missile tubes.

The only thing protecting Russia’s territorial integrity from grab-happy foreigners is their nuclear deterrent. The Russian Army simply isn’t up to fighting a well-organized and well-trained foe. They’re barely competent at shelling terrorists out of their hidey holes, even when given permission to reduce entire cities to rubble (cough, Grozny, cough). Decades of neglect and some historically awful training methods have taken their toll. But Russia still has plenty of nukes, and nobody doubts Putin’s willingness to let them fly in self-defense.

But a credible nuclear deterrent requires a credible second-strike capability. That is, if somebody (cough, China, cough) were to launch a first strike and take out Russia’s land-based ICBMs, they still have hidden submarines sneaking around with the ability to unleash some nuclear whoop-ass in retaliation. That’s why Russia’s problems with Bulava could prove to be a real threat to the general peace of East Asia.

Eliminate the nuclear threat, and China could probably take Vladivostok and Russia’s Far Eastern Maritime Province (Primorsky Krai) without too much trouble. Moscow would have a difficult time supporting much fighting, given the distances involved and the shoddy-to-non-existent infrastructure through Siberia. Give the Chinese another decade or two to modernize, and they could probably develop the operational reach to take everything east of Irkutsk. That’s a lot of mineral wealth and lebensraum the Chinese could exploit much better than the Russians.

There’s just the tiny matter of a nuclear first strike, followed by an ugly general war.

That’s the kind of thing nightmares are made of. So while I detest Putin and I’m thoroughly embarrassed by the way he’s pwned our President, I do very much hope he’s able to get the Bulava working, reliable, and at the ready.

Comments are closed.

All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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A completely ridiculous post, Stephen, everyone knows that Obama has brought world peace and unicorn farts.

Yep, a completely ridiculous piece ... except that this is exactly how Russian and Chinese leadership think.

I'll be honest with you, when I go dig out the latest news items on Jane's etc., what I'm really doing is counting amphib hulls in the Chinese navy. I still think the "adventure" that they are prepping for is Taiwan.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Our leads from behind dud is many times worse than their dud.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting.

Stephen, you are one of the few commentators I follow who has anything positive (or at least somewhat supportive) to say about Putin.

The other is Jerry Pournelle, who thinks that Russia is our natural ally against China.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment

I'm not seeing the avenue for China utilize Siberian resources given their present (and historical) governing structure. In order to really develop Siberia, Beijing would have to send folks out into the wilderness and allow them the initiative to do what needs to be done.

Many of those folks would likely be "the wrong sort of people", and some of those people would likely become wealthy. Wealthy enough to weaken the central government's control over Siberian resources.

Beijing, like all tyrants, would rather take a bigger slice of a smaller pie.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Take a look sometime -- there are plenty of resources on the web -- at Imperial German plans and actions during WWI for resettling western Poland, or Nazi German plans and actions during WWII for resettling even larger areas of Poland and the Soviet Union. They'll give you a good idea of how a totalitarian or merely authoritarian country can do just as I've described for China.

China even has an added advantage, in that Siberia has hardly any locals to clear out.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Siberia could be a good place for all those young Chinese men that don't have a hope in hell of ever getting married. /One Child Policy
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Chinese have demographic problem and a corruption problem that is haunting the leadership. The Russians may have turned around their birthrate decline but that depends on if their stats are true. The sad thing is that the Obama administration is rapidly catching up in the most corrupt race.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Surprised Vlad hasn't reinstituted the old tried and true 'Failure=Treason=Gulag'
for his researchers. You know "Pour encouager les autres".
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh, no problem. I'm sure a proposal for giving them Tridents is somewhere on a certain desk in a certain office.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Chinese are also having a hell of a time getting their SLMBs to sea. The latest, Type 94, I think, has been on some training/shakedown cruises but they've never been able to get a ballistic missile sub out on an actual combat patrol.

And IIRC, the Chinese ICBMs are extremely primitive and in limited numbers.

Interesting times.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Best estimates of China's nuclear warhead stockpile is somewhere between 200-500, and around 50 ICBMs. Beijing, however, won't say.

The D-5 is their big boy missile, but is liquid fueled and not terribly accurate. The DF-31 ICBM is road-mobile and considered quite capable, if of shorter range. The former isn't accurate enough to take out a hardened missile silo, and there aren't enough of the DF-31 to get the job done, either.

But the DF-41 is coming along, and has enough range to replace the D-5.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yeah, that's about what I've heard. And those 50 ICBM's are liquid fueled and on launch pads, not hardened silos. Which means they're extremely vulnerable and provide alot of warning before use.

The DFs are more IRBM than ICBM. And wasn't the DF-31 supposed to be a "carrier killer" according to the media? I seriously doubt it could. Oceans are very big and carriers very small and able to disappear if they want to. ex. The Ranger in the eastern Med during Desert Storm.
31 weeks ago
31 weeks ago Link To Comment
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