As Bulava is slowly making its way through flight tests, the first Project 955 submarine, Yuri Dolgorukiy, is getting closer to actually going to sea. Its reactor was turned on in November 2008 and the submarine is expected to begin sea trials this month.

Speaking to journalists today, Sergei Ivanov said that Project 955 submarines will be eventually deployed in the Pacific and with the Northern Fleet. What's interesting is that when asked about the number of submarines of this class to be constructed, Ivanov replied that it will depend on the funds available. So far, the plan was to build eight submarines by 2015. It is unclear if Ivanov meant that it could be more than eight or fewer. I guess we will have to wait to find out. He said, however, that the navy already absorbs a lion share of the military budget - about 40% - most of which goes to the sea-based nuclear force.