While the Strategic Rocket Forces are downplaying expectations, the Navy is trying to keep up with its earlier promises. Vladimir Kuroyedov, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy, was reported as saying that by the end of 2006 the Navy will have two submarines equipped with the Bulava missile. He even started speculating on whether the submarines will stay with the Northern Fleet or go to the Pacific, as if it is a real choice.

Development of the Bulava missile is a troubled program, but it's been inching forward anyway and it is expected that the first real flight test of the missile will take place some time this year. The two submarines that are supposed to be ready in 2006 are a converted Project 941/Typhoon Dmitriy Donskoy, which is currently used as a test platform, and Project 955 Yuri Dolgorukiy - a new submarine, which is supposed to be ready some time in 2006.

The reality is that it is highly unlikely (I would say impossible) that the industry will be able to provide the 32 missiles that would be required to arm two submarines. Even if we assume (as I would) that Dmitriy Donskoy will remain more of a test platform than an actual combat submarine, this still leaves 16+ missiles to produce.

I guess that had the Navy asked the Rocket Forces about whether one can get 32 missiles in less than a year, Kuroyedov would have been less optimistic with his projections. On the other hand, this particular brand of "optimism" is a hallmark of Kuroyedov's style - the more you promise for tomorrow the more you get away with today.