Russia follows China’s lead on hypersonic anti-ship missiles
Russian state media is shining the spotlight on efforts to develop an anti-ship ballistic missile for coastal defense. It would be the first Russian weapon of this type.
According to state-run media TASS, contractor NPO Mashinostroeniya – a division of JSC Tactical Missiles Corporation – is working on the Russian equivalent of China’s “carrier-killer” ballistic missiles.
The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force maintains two types of anti-ship ballistic missiles, the DF-21D and the longer-range DF-26. Both are designed to strike moving ships at sea – a difficult task for a ballistic missile descending from space. This capability is a key part of Beijing’s area denial strategy for the East and South China Seas. Russia is interested in creating a similar system, potentially with a maneuverable payload.
“The ‘Zmeevik’ [“coil” or “serpentine”] ballistic missile with hypersonic combat equipment has been developed for quite a long time. It will be designed to destroy large surface targets, mainly aircraft carriers,” a military source told TASS.
NPO Mashinostroeniya would be well qualified for the task. The company is the developer of the P-800 Onyx, a supersonic anti-ship missile often used against ground targets in Ukraine. Mashinostroeniya is also the manufacturer of the hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard, an ICBM-delivered payload that entered service in Russia several years ago; the Avangard carries a nuclear warhead and maneuvers at a (purported) speed of Mach 20-27 during re-entry.
US intelligence and independent analyst assessments indicate that Russia is struggling to source components for precision-guided munitions due to sanctions, and is increasingly reliant on older-generation missiles and capabilities of secondary use (such as anti-ship missiles deployed against ground targets) for its war in Ukraine.