Ukraine claimed that the Russian ship was hit by two of its Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles.
The news that Ukraine’s Neptune missile destroyed the Russian warship Moscow recently has sparked interest in Ukraine’s domestic missiles. Meanwhile, India has also recently successfully tested the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile co-produced with Russia. On April 13, the guided-missile cruiser Moskva of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet caught fire. The ship sank while being towed to port.
Russia claimed that Moscow was badly damaged and sunk as a result of an ammunition depot explosion caused by a fire. Meanwhile, Ukraine claimed that the Russian ship was hit by two of its Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles. Ukraine’s statement was also supported by US defense officials.
Moscow is a Slava-class guided-missile cruiser, flagship of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Navy. The Moskva was equipped with 16 SS-N-12 Sandbox supersonic Surface-to-surface missiles. This is a huge ship, weighing about 11,500 tons, and to destroy it requires an anti-ship missile capable of very precise targeting.
The Neptune Cruise Missile, known as R-360 Neptune, is a Ukrainian anti-ship cruise missile developed by the Luch Design Bureau. The missile is based on the Soviet Kh-35 anti-ship missile; however, it has a far longer range and better electronics. Surface warships and cargo vessels with a displacement of up to 5,000 tons, sailing in convoys or independently, can be struck by this weapon which was inducted in March 2021.
This Neptune travels at a speed of roughly 671 mph, which is slower than sound, and it flies near to the water, especially as it approaches its target, increasing the chances of hitting the ship at the waterline. It uses both inertial guidance and active radar to get to its target. The manufacturer claims a range of 186 miles, or 300 km.
While Ukraine’s Neptune is the focus of attention, India has quietly gone ahead and tested the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile co-produced between India and Russia. A Twitter user in an interesting post said — “The Brahmos has 50x the kinetic energy of the Neptune, and twice the warhead capacity. Imagine the effects than of by a single Brahmos strike.” The tweet which received positive responses and a lot of traction among online military watchers also said that “If the Moskva reportedly has sunk with two direct hits from Neptune missiles, 1 or 2 Brahmos could theoretically disable a USN Super Carrier.”
The BrahMos is notable for its supersonic speeds of Mach 3. This speed not only makes it harder to intercept but also gives it more firepower. With supersonic speeds and cruising along the water, BrahMos somewhat becomes like a stealth missile that you may just detect but cannot intercept.
The BrahMos has an inertial navigation system for targeting ships and an GPS for targeting land targets. Depending on the model and launch platform, the BrahMos has a range of 300 to 500 kilometers, much more than Moskva-killer Neptune. The missile can carry a 250 kg submunition warhead or a 200 or 300 kg high explosive semi-armor-piercing warhead. It can be launched from the ground, from a vertical launch system, from a ramp launcher, or from the air.
The BrahMos, like many other missiles in Russia’s inventory, far exceeds the power and capability of Ukrainian Neptune missiles in terms of speed, weight, and payload capacity. All these specifications make the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile much more lethal and advanced than the Neptune. However, Neptune could be very useful for Anti Access capability for a defensive country like Ukraine.