MOSCOW, August 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's newest Borey class strategic nuclear submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, will undergo up to six more sea trials before being commissioned with the Russian Navy, the Sevmash plant said on Monday.
The submarine, which is expected to be armed with the new Bulava sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), successfully completed its first round of sea trials in the White Sea on July 10.
"According to our estimates, the submarine still needs at least five or six sea trials before commissioning," said Anastasia Nikitinskaya, a spokesperson for Sevmash plant.
The vessel is 170 meters (580 feet) long, has a hull diameter of 13 meters (42 feet), a crew of 107, including 55 officers, a maximum depth of 450 meters (about 1,500 feet) and a submerged speed of about 29 knots. It can carry up to 16 ballistic missiles and torpedoes.
The construction cost of the submarine totaled 23 billion rubles (about $713 mln), including 9 billion rubles ($280 mln) for research and development.
Two other Borey class nuclear submarines, the Alexander Nevsky and the Vladimir Monomakh, are currently under construction at the Sevmash plant and are expected to be completed in 2009 and 2011. Russia is planning to build eight of these submarines by 2015.
According to Navy officials, fourth-generation Borey class nuclear-powered submarines will form the core of Russia's fleet of modern strategic submarines, and will be deployed with Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets.
However, the commissioning of the submarine could be delayed by setbacks in the development of the troubled Bulava missile, which has suffered six failures in 11 tests.
The future development of the Bulava has been questioned by some lawmakers and defense industry officials, who have suggested that all efforts should be focused on the existing Sineva SLBM.
But the Russian military has insisted that there is no alternative to the Bulava and pledged to continue testing the missile until it is ready to be put in service with the Navy.
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Military exercises are held in order to prevent a war rather than prepare for one. If a potential enemy knows and sees that the Russian Army is constantly improving its skills and adopting state-of-the-art combat equipment and combat support systems he will hardly risk aggression against these Armed Forces and the country they defend.