The two most crucial weapons used by Russia in the conflict in Ukraine are cruise missiles and short-range ballistic missiles.
With the ability to strike all of Ukraine, these missiles aid Russia in attacking key military infrastructure, particularly in western Ukraine, where Kiev stores Western weapons and equipment.
Since beginning a special military campaign in Ukraine in February, Russia has fired hundreds of missiles. Even though Moscow has a sizable number of advanced missiles that can execute precise strikes, it still uses older, Soviet-era weapons.
Missiles launched from the sea
The most popular type of Russian missiles employed in Ukraine are the 3M-14 Kalibr cruise missiles, which are launched from ships or submarines. The NATO designation for the Kalibr missile family, also known as SS-N-30A, contains anti-ship, anti-submarine, and land-attack versions that may be fired from surface ships, submarines, or aircraft. With a range of 1,600 km to 2,400 km and the ability to carry either a conventional explosive warhead weighing more than 450 kg or a nuclear bomb, Kalibr can undertake pinpoint attacks. The US-made Tomahawk cruise missile is frequently contrasted with this missile.
One of Russia’s newest and most sophisticated missiles, the Kalibr first saw operational use in 1994. During the conflict in Syria in October 2015, the missile was first put into use. At that moment, 26 Kalibr missiles from Russian warships were fired at targets 1,700 kilometres away in Syria.
The NATO-designated SS-N-26 P-800 Oniks anti-ship cruise missile, which has a range of more than 320 km and a top speed of nearly Mach 2, is also used by the Russian Navy. Depending on the mission, the missile can carry a warhead weighing 200–250 kg.
Since it entered service in 2002, P-800 Oniks has primarily been outfitted with warships and submarines. The mobile coastal defence missile system, which enables the Oniks to be fired from mobile ground-based launchers, was first employed by the Russian Navy in 2015. The accuracy of the Oniks alarmed NATO commanders. The likelihood of the missile striking its target is 90 percent, according to the Russian side’s statement. Large warships can be obliterated by the P-800 Yakhont cruise missile’s nuclear warhead in a single strike.
Land-based short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) were crucial in the conflict in Ukraine, particularly the Tochka-U and Iskander-M, which NATO refers to as the SS-21 Scarab and SS-26 Stone, respectively. They stand for the current and previous generations of short-range ballistic missiles produced by Russia.
The Soviet Union introduced the Tochka missile in 1975, and it has since been updated into the Tochka-U. With a range of 120 km and the ability to carry a 453 kg payload, a fragmentation warhead, or a 100 kiloton nuclear warhead, Tochka-U is launched from mobile truck-mounted launchers.
The Tochka-U launcher needs roughly 16 minutes to launch. It takes over 20 minutes to load another rocket into the launcher. For the safety of the working units, this launcher incorporates nuclear, biological, and chemical filtering systems.
Another short-range ballistic missile, the Iskander-M, was introduced in 2006 to take the place of the Tochka-U missile. In order to completely destroy any target, the Iskander-M can be equipped with high-impact, thermobaric, fragmentation, or nuclear warheads. From a launcher that can hold two missiles, the Iskander-M is fired. Cruise missile launch tubes, which can withstand nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks, can also be added to the launcher.
Even though it hasn’t yet taken over Ukraine’s airspace, Russian forces have frequently launched cruise missiles from the air toward targets in Kiev. The Kh-101 cruise missile and the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal hypersonic missile are the most recent air-launched weapons that Russia has ever disclosed.
The Kh-101, which debuted in 2012, has a ceiling of 30 metres to 6,000 metres, a maximum range of 5,500 kilometres, and a typical cruise speed of 700–720 kilometres per hour. It is capable of transporting a nuclear warhead, a fragmentation warhead, or one that weighs close to 450 kg. It can hit the target with extreme precision because to the employment of a sophisticated computer system and satellite navigation system.
One of the few operational hypersonic missiles, the Kinzhal is one of Russia’s newest and most sophisticated weapons. The missile can be fired from a strategic bomber or an enhanced MiG-31 defender.
If fired from a Tu-22M strategic bomber, the Kinzhal’s range, according to the developers, can exceed 2,000 miles. A 500 kilogramme nuclear warhead or a 500 kiloton fragmentation warhead, which is 33 times more destructive than the Fat Man bomb the US unleashed on Hiroshima, can be carried by Kinzhal. As a result of Kinzhal’s unusual flight path from conventional ballistic missiles, air defence systems have less time to respond and attempt an intercept.
When Russian planes fired the Kinzhal missile against an underground storage facility in western Ukraine on March 18, it became the first hypersonic weapon to be used in combat.
Russia deploys a number of older missiles produced during the Soviet era, including the Kh-22 anti-ship missile launched in 1968, in addition to contemporary and advanced missiles, to strike aircraft carriers. in 1984, the Kh-55 cruise missiles were introduced. While the Kh-55 has a range of up to 3,000 km and can carry conventional or conventional warheads, the Kh-22 has a range of 600 km and can carry a warhead weighing one tonne. 500 kilotons of nuclear energy. These two missiles’ accuracy, however, is not very good. Both the range and payload of upgraded variants of both Kh-22 have increased.
Influence on the battlefield
In the Russian military campaign as a whole, missile attacks are quite significant. Throughout the conflict, several videos show Russia firing Kalibr missiles at Ukrainian targets from surface ships or submarines.
In addition, Ukrainian military bases and airports have been struck by its short-range ballistic missiles launched from Belarus or Russian soil. According to reports, short-range ballistic missiles are also used by Tu-22M, Tu-95, and Tu-160 bombers to aim at comparable targets while passing over Belarus or the Black Sea. Russian air protection. The airstrikes damaged a large number of weapons that had been supplied to the Ukraine by the West while making it difficult for the Ukrainian Air Force to function at the airports.
However, some analysts contend that Russia is attacking other nations by using anti-ship missiles like the Kh-22 and P-800 or less advanced missiles like the Tochka-U and Kh-22. Moscow appears to be short on missiles and finds it challenging to add more advanced and precise weapons to its arsenal, as shown by ground targets.