A RIA Novosti report quoted an unnamed representative of the military that the Russian Navy is planning to conduct SLBM launches in the Pacific, most likely on September 15th (although the launch window would last until September 20th). The missiles will be launched from submarines deployed in the Sea of Okhotsk and the Bering Sea.

What's interesting, the missiles will be launched to the Kura test range in Kamchatka and not to the usual Chizha test site at the Kanin Peninsula. This means that the missiles would be tested at an unusually short range (this would require a lofted trajectory) - no more than about 1500-1700 km and maybe as short as 600 km. The purpose of these tests is not entirely clear at this point (although I'm sure we'll hear obligatory references to missile defense).

Another interesting aspect about the upcoming launch is that while the report mentions submarines of the Pacific Fleet, it says that these are Project 667BDRM/Delta IV submarines even though the Pacific Fleet does not have submarines of this type. It is probably just a journalistic error, fairly common in Russia, but it could be something else - some Project 667BDRM submarines may have been moved to the Pacific. I hope we'll find out soon.

Another launch that we should expect next week is the long-awaited flight test of the Bulava missile. It's about time - the Dmitri Donskoy submarine recently returned from sea trials and presumably is ready for action. Also, I have some information that the test is indeed scheduled for some time next week.

This is going to be an interesting week to watch for Russian SLBMs. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 10/13/08: The short-range launches never happened. Apparently, there was some misunderstanding or maybe there was a change of plans. Eventually, on October 12, 2008 an R-29R missile was launched from the Sea of Okhotsk toward its usual destination at Chizha.