The Vietnam People’s Navy currently maintains a large number of P-15 Termit anti-ship missiles

P-15 Termit was born in the 1950s, is an anti-ship missile developed by the Soviet Union’s Raduga design bureau, with the designation was 4K40, NATO reporting name was Styx or SS-N-2. Despite its massive size, thousands of P-15s were built and installed on many classes of ships from MTBs to destroyers, as well as coastal batteries and even bombers.

The appearance of the P-15 is defined by its long cylindrical fuselage with a rounded nose and a tapered tail, steeply-swept trapezoidal wings and fins, and a small cylindrical booster on the aft underside. The wings are mid-mounted and located slightly aft of the midsection, while the stabilizers consist of a single vertical fin on top of the aft end, and two similar horizontal fins with a steep dihedral pitch.

P-15 Termit Anti-ship Missile
P-15 Termit Anti-ship Missile

A slightly bulged spine is located on the forward underside of the missile, while several square-shaped access panels are located on top. The thrust nozzle on the tail is tiny compared to the rest of the missile, and thus easily overlooked. A rocket booster bottle is fitted to the underside of the tail, which is cylindrical in shape with a flat nose and a downward-curved conical thrust nozzle.

The missile weighed around 2.34 tons (5,160 lb), had a top speed of Mach 0.9 and a range of 40 kilometres (25 mi). The explosive warhead was behind the fuel tank, and as the missile retained a large amount of unburned fuel at the time of impact, even at maximum range, it acted as an incendiary device.

With a large warhead, the P-15 has truly formidable destructive power, but its biggest drawback is its short range due to the use of liquid fuel engines. It is almost impossible to replace the engine, due to too much intervention in the original structure. But the disadvantage of range will be overcome by small speedboats. They can covertly close to the enemy’s shores and launch missiles to attack ports, coastal airfields or near-shore targets. In the history of war, it is also recorded that P-15 anti-ship missiles were used to attack targets on land. On December 4, 1971, the oil refinery in Keamari, Pakistan was attacked by P-15 missiles launched from small warships of the Indian Navy. Similar to the SA-2, although it may not have too many roles, the P-15 Termit anti-ship missile still proves to be very useful, even if it has to be converted to another role.


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