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Failed Missile Launch Leads to Submarine Shipment Delay

The test launch of a strategic Bulava cruise missile reportedly failed due to problems in its engine control systems.

The missile, one of the key components of Russia's "nuclear shield," failed because of errors in the projectile's thrusters, Interfax reported on Monday, citing an source in the arms production industry.

An attempt to launch the Bulava missile, NATO classification SS-NX-30, was made from the submerged nuclear submarine Alexander Nevsky in the White Sea on Friday.

During the second minute of its flight, the missile's engines turned off; it fell and sank in the Arctic Ocean, the Defense Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The missile was part of the army's first shipment of the weapon, which had been finally accepted for military use following a series of tests, a source in the Defense Ministry told Kommersant.

Because of the incident, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has already postponed a second stage of missile testing planned for the Alexander Nevsky and Vladimir Monomakh nuclear submarines.

The submarines will now be passed on to the navy later than expected and are now anticipated to enter the fleet in 2014 instead of at the end of this year.

Sergei Shoigu also called for five additional test launches for the missile.

A special committee led by the head of the Russian navy, Admiral Viktor Cherkov, has been called to investigate the details of the failed launch. It could take several months for the experts to get to the root of the problem.

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