Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Russian nuclear exercise - trouble at t'mill

Well, the Russian joint forces nuclear exercise reported in these pages is on, but it seems that the weirdness has struck already...story
Apparently, a strategic missile submarine which was planned to launch one (or perhaps two) missiles into a test range in Siberia failed to launch. Or perhaps - depending on version - one was launched but broke up in flight - or perhaps there were no missiles. Apparently, Vladimir Putin was present aboard a nuclear submarine at the time. How embarrassing.

"Putin was on board the Arkhangelsk on Tuesday morning when the Novomoskovsk nuclear submarine was to have fired two sea-launched ballistic missiles, state-controlled news agencies reported Tuesday afternoon. The Novomoskovsk was to have fired one RSM-54 at 10:15 a.m. and another one at 10:22, but neither took off because the launch command was blocked by a satellite, Itar-Tass quoted a source in the Northern Fleet as saying. RIA-Novosti also reported that two ballistic missiles failed to take off., however, said that only one missile was to have been launched from the submerged Novomoskovsk and that it disintegrated right after emerging from the water.

And a government source told The Associated Press that the launch of the one missile failed after it was blocked by the submarine's automatic safety system. The source did not elaborate.

After reporting two failures, RIA-Novosti dropped any mention of them and started relaying reports in which the Northern Fleet's press service said the exercises were going "normally." The press service told Interfax that "no unforeseen situations appeared in the course of the exercises."

What elephant? It would appear that various state-controlled media including the defence ministry's own paper, the Red Star, had announced that one strategic missile and one other weapon were to be launched. (the second one being part of a naval air defence exercise) But now the commander-in-chief of the Navy, Admiral Kuroyedov, says they were only ever going to simulate firing the missiles. How very Soviet. More details here

For amusement's sake, check out this article from Pravda. And then try this one. So - the BBC made it all up, but the sub really did launch the rocket it was only simulating and it went off course and had to be blown up?

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