updated 4/28/2009 4:47:57 AM ET 2009-04-28T08:47:57

Russia will conduct at least five test launches of a new-generation intercontinental ballistic missile this year, the deputy defense minister was quoted as saying Tuesday.

Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin said the Bulava missile needs thorough testing because "the reliability of all aspects of the rocket needs to be achieved" in comments carried by state news agency RIA Novosti.

The submarine-launched Bulava missile has a reported maximum range of about 6,200 miles and capacity for up to six individually targeted nuclear warheads. It has been hailed as a key future component of Russia's nuclear forces, although mixed results in testing have tempered enthusiasm.

Popovkin, speaking in Istanbul, said if the test launches were successful another five would be scheduled, the agency said.

The Bulava is to be test-fired from the Dmitry Donskoi nuclear submarine this year, Navy Admiral Oleg Burtsev told RIA Novosti separately.

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