By Associated Press - Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MOSCOW (AP) — A ballistic missile that is to be a cornerstone of Russia’s nuclear arsenal has completed its rocky test program and will be commissioned by the military, President Dmitry Medvedev announced Tuesday during a meeting with military officers.

The Bulava ICBM, intended to arm a new generation of nuclear submarines, is a three-stage missile that can carry up to 10 individually targeted warheads at a range of 5,000 miles.

The Bulava suffered a string of failures during tests that dragged on for years, raising doubts about the future of the most expensive military project in the nation’s post-Soviet history. Several recent tests, however, have been successful, including last week’s simultaneous launch of two Bulavas.

Russian officials have billed Bulava as a new-generation weapon, capable of dodging any potential missile defenses, thanks to its quick start and an ability to perform unusual maneuvers in flight. The Bulava would replace Soviet-built missiles approaching the end of their service lifetimes.

The Russian navy also has finished building the first of a new series of nuclear-powered submarines to be armed with the new missile, the Yuri Dolgoruky. Several other such submarines are under construction.

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