The Russians have learned since the Cold War


Four Russian naval vessels in the Caspian Sea launched a total of 26 cruise missiles at 11 targets in Syria, according to a news report. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was quoted in the article as saying, “According to objective control data, all the targets were destroyed. No civilian objects sustained damage.”

The ships were identified in the report as the Gepard-class frigate Dagestan and the Buyan-M-class corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliky Ustyug. They’re armed with Kalibr-NK launchers, which can launch missiles capable of hitting targets at distances of up to about 1,550 miles (2,500 kilometers).

The Russian missiles 3M-54 Калибр (Kalibr) and 3M-14 Бирюза (Biryuza) are Russian surface ship and submarine-launched anti-ship and coastal anti ship (AShM) and land attack cruise missiles (LACM) developed by the Novator Design Bureau (OKB-8). Its NATO designation is “SS-N-27A” with the NATO codename of “Sizzler”. Derived export versions are the 3M-54E and the 3M-54E1. The 3M-54E has a NATO designation, the SS-N-27B; (it does not have a NATO code name). The 3M-54 and 3M-54E, in their final stage, make a supersonic “sprint” to the target, reducing the time that target’s defense systems have to react. The 3M-54E1 has the capability of subsonic speed in its whole flight. Its range is longer than that of the 3M-54E.

Despite reports that some missiles landed in Iran demonstrate the country’s advances in developing the cruise missiles technology, an expert said. “It’s still good news for the Russians because they have actually used these new cruise missiles in combat for the first time and demonstrated their capability,” Paul Schwartz, a senior associate in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview with Military​.com.

The fact that four of them went off track, does not work against to a major degree, the reality is most of these seem to have hit their target, it shows that the fundamental cruise missiles technology seems to be sound. It’s important to keep in mind that even the U.S. with its very long history of using the Tomahawk dating to the Gulf War; it took them quite a while to turn into skilled with these cruise missiles.

  “The newer system is superior better guidance system, lower flight profile, it’s more reliable,” Schwartz said. “It represents some of the many things the Russians have learned since the Cold War.”

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