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Special Issue, 2019


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Defense Industries

Russian Ship-based Air Defense Missile Systems

Mikhail Barabanov

The main Soviet and Russian developer of ship-based AA and missile defense systems is the Altair Naval Electronics Research Institute, which became a division of the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern in 2002. As part of the Almaz-Antey restructuring in late 2010, Altair was incorporated into the GSKB Almaz-Antey design bureau, which was designated the sole Russian developer of air defense systems. That new outfit was renamed NPO Almaz in 2015 but remained a division of Almaz-Antey.

Most of the Soviet ship-based air defense missile systems developed by Altair used the same guided missiles as their land-based equivalents. All three of the systems Altair developed in the 1970-1980s were ship-based equivalents of land-based systems. The S-300F Fort (the export version was called Rif) was based on the design of the land-based S-300P; the Uragan (Shtil) was equivalent to the land-based Buk; and the Kinzhal (Klinok) to the land-based Tor system. Production of all these ship-based systems ground to halt after 1991 because the Russian Navy had stopped placing orders for new ships. The only exception was the Shtil system, which remained in production under foreign contracts.

The first Soviet medium- and long-range ship-based AA missile system was the 3M41 (S-300F) Fort (NATO designation SA-N-6), equipped with the 3R41 ship-based control system and 5V55RM AA missiles. The system, which had a range of up to 75km (with the same missiles that were used in the land-based S-300PS/SA-10) was first installed for sea trials in 1977 on the Azov large anti-submarine ship, a Project 1134B design (Kara class) upgraded to Project 1134BF specification. The system officially entered into service with the Soviet Navy in 1984; it was the Navy’s first multi-channel AA missile system. A distinctive feature of the Fort series is its revolver-type vertical launchers and rotating antenna posts. Mass-produced S-300F systems were installed on four Project 1144 and Project 11442 (Kirov class) heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers; each ship carried two such systems. One system apiece was also installed on four Project 1164 (Slava class) missile cruisers. The fourth of these cruisers never entered into service because of the break-up of the Soviet Union.1

In 1988, the Navy equipped its S-300F systems installed on the final two Project 11442 heavy nuclear-powered missile cruisers (RNS Kalinin, later renamed RNS Admiral Nakhimov, and RNS Pyotr Velikiy) with the new 48N6K guided AA missiles, which are equivalent to the 48N6 missiles used on the land-based S-300PM SAM system and have a nominal range of up to 150km.2

In the late 1980s, Altair developed the 3M48 (S-300FM) Fort-M (SA-N-20), a modified ship-based AA missile complex equipped with a new control system and the latest 5V55RM and 48N6K (SA-20) surface-to-air missiles. The system was also potentially capable of using a naval version of the 48N6DMK, a new missile developed for the S-400 (SA-21) land-based SAM system, equipped with an active radar seeker and boasting a range of up to 250km. The first Fort-M system was installed in the bow of RNS Pyotr Velikiy, a Project 11442 heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser that entered service with the Russian Navy in 1998 (the system still being used in the stern of the ship is the older S-300F). Another two 3M48 systems are to replace the S-300Fs on RNS Admiral Nakhimov, a Project 11442 ship currently undergoing upgrades. The Admiral Nakhimov will probably be the first ship to receive the new 48N6DMK missiles once the upgrades are completed.3

The first export contract for two sets of the Fort-M export version, designated the Rif-M, was signed in 2002 with China, which installed them on two of its Project 051C (Luzhou class / Project 988) fleet destroyers that entered service with the Chinese Navy in 2006-2007.

The 3M90 Uragan (M-22 / SA-N-7) medium-range ship-based AA missile system was developed by Altair in the 1970s. It used single-beam launchers and the same 9M38 (SA-11) AA missiles with a semi-active radar seeker and up to 25km range that were developed for the land-based Buk SAM system. The Uragan was installed on the RNS Provorny, an experimental large anti-submarine ship retrofitted to Project 61E (Kashin class) specification, and on 13 Project 956 (Sovremenny type) destroyers that entered into service with the Soviet Navy in the 1980-1990s. The final four of the Project 956 ships that were delivered to the Russian Navy in 1991-1994 were equipped with a modified version of the system called Tornado (SA-N- 12). It uses a new 9M317F AA missile, a version of the 9M317 (SA-17) developed for the land-based Buk-M1-2 and Buk-M2 systems and boasting a longer 50km range.4

The export version of the Uragan, designated the Shtil (the version supplied to the Indian Navy was called the Kashmir) was installed in the 1990s on two Project 956E destroyers Russia built under a Chinese contract and on three Delhi-class destroyers (Project 15, developed with Russian participation) built in India.

The 9M317 AA missiles were also used in the export versions of the Tornado system designated the Shtil-1E and the Uragan-1E; both were exported in large numbers. After 2000, a version of these systems equipped with single-beam launchers were installed on six Talwar class (Project 11356) frigates built in Russia under an Indian contract; three Shivalik (Project 17) frigates built in India; two modified Project 956EM fleet destroyers built in Russia for the Chinese Navy; and two Chinese-built Project 052B (Guangzhou class, Project 968) destroyers that entered into service in 2004.

The Shtil-1E was later modified to use vertical launch hives and the 9M317MFE missile. That version is to be installed on the four modified Project 11356 (Talwar class) frigates that will be built in Russia under an Indian contract.

The Russian Navy uses the Uragan-1 with 9M317MF missiles and vertical launchers on three Project 11356R (Admiral Grigorovich class) frigates delivered in 2016-2017. In 2017, the system installed on the third ship of the series, RNS Admiral Makarov, was successfully tested with the new 9M317MFA missile, which has an active radar seeker.5

The 3M95 Klinok (SA-N-9) ship-based close-range AA missile system equipped with 9M330-2 missiles shares many components with the land-based 9K330 Tor (SA-15). It was officially entered into service in 1989. The Klinok is used on Project 11434 (RNS Admiral Gorshkov) and Project 11435 (RNS Admiral Kuznetsov) heavy aircraft carrying cruisers, two Project 11442 heavy nuclear-powered cruisers, 12 Project 1155 (Udaloy class) large anti-submarine ships, one Project 11551 ship (RNS Admiral Chabanenko), and two Project 11540 frigates (Neustrashimy class).6

The export version of the Kinzhal system, called Klinok, has failed to win any foreign customers. In recent years, Almaz-Antey has been marketing the latest 9K331M Tor-M2 land-based SAM system to Russia’s own Navy. Test launches of the 9K331MKM Tor-M2KM autonomous turret equipped with the 9M331M surface-to-air missiles installed on the deck of RNS Admiral Grigorovich, a Project 11356R frigate, were conducted in October 2016.7

The Russian Navy’s latest AA missile system is the 3K96 Redut, which is being developed by NPO Almaz for use with the 9M96 medium- and long-range missiles, currently in development and also slated for use with the land-based S-400 and S-350 SAM systems. The 9M96 missiles are equipped with an active radar seeker and have a range of up to 50km for the basic version and 120-150km for the 9M96D. There is also the short-range 9M100, which can engage targets up to 15km away. All these missiles are launched from a vertical hive, with a single hive cell housing one 9M96 or four 9M100 missiles.

The first prototype of the Redut complex (the 3K96-3 version) was installed on RNS Soobrazitelny, a modified Project 20380 (Steregushchy class) corvette delivered to the Russian Navy in 2011. Joint flight tests of the 3K96- 3 with 9M96 missiles commenced later that year. First tests of the 9M96D and 9M100 missiles with the 3K96-3 complex were conducted in 2013-2014.8

The 3K96-3 Redut is now deemed fully combat-ready and has already been installed on an additional four modified Project 20380 corvettes. Russia is also building a further five modified Project 20380 ships, two Project 20385 corvettes, and two Project 20386 corvettes; these will be equipped with the Redut as well.

The longer-range version of the system called 3K96-2 Poliment-Redut is used on the new Project 22350 frigates. The first ship in this series, RNS Admiral Gorshkov, finally entered into service with the Russian Navy in 2018 after lengthy sea trials. Trials of the Poliment-Redut installed on that ship began in 2015 and were successfully completed in 2018.9 It is worth noting that before being entered into service, the system was tested in extremely challenging conditions; such rigor was not used even during the Soviet period.

Another five Project 22350 frigates are currently on the ways at various stages of completion. The 3K96-2 Poliment-Redut system includes the Poliment radar with four stationary phased array grids. It uses 9M96, 9M96D, and 9M100 guided AA missiles.

To summarize, the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern currently offers a full range of highly advanced ship-based AA missile systems, including short-, medium-, and long-range versions, which are supplied to the Russian Navy and marketed to foreign customers.

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© Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, 2019