As a general rule, statements made by the Russian military should be taken with a pinch of salt (to put it mildly). This would certainly apply to today's words of Admiral Vladimir Masorin, the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. He was reported as saying that in five years Russia will overhaul its strategic submarine fleet, replacing all old submarines with new ones, carrying Bulava missiles.

This sounds quite implausible to me. First of all, while Bulava seems to be a fairly successful development program, there is no chance it will be ready for deployment for at least two or three more years. Then the industry would have to manufacture enough missiles to put them on submarines, which will also take a while. Speaking of submarines, even though Russia started construction of a third Project 955 submarine about a month ago, it is still to complete the first one - a month ago it was reported to be 70 per cent ready. Of course, one cannot rule out an attempt to accelerate construction of submarines and production of missiles, but I don't see why this attempt would be successful. Programs tend to fall behind schedule, not go ahead of it.

Another question that is raised by Admiral Masorin's statement is the future of the Project 667BDRM/Delta IV submarines. As far as I understand, the current plan is to keep in service six submarines of this class, equipped with an upgraded R-29RM Sineva/SS-N-23 missile. The submarines are undergoing overhaul (a third boat, Tula, is about to return to service), while the modified R-29RM Sineva missile completed a round of flight tests last year, which apparently included tests of new re-entry vehicles. All this strongly indicates that Project 667BDRM submarines will be around for longer than five years. Unless, of course, a decision has been made to abandon this program completely. But I would rather believe that either Masorin said something he didn't mean or he was grossly misinterpreted by journalists.