Why Russia's Enemies Fear the Kalibr Cruise Missile
Furthermore, an air launched version of the Klub missiles is being developed for use on the Tu-142 maritime patrol planes operated by Russia and the Indian Air Force. Ground-launched antiship versions have also been demonstrated—notably one that could be concealed in an innocuous-looking shipping container. This Klub-K variant could be carried on a civilian train, cargo freighter or truck, rendering the prospect of identifying and destroying the weapon from afar a difficult one. However, there are no confirmed operators of these system as of yet.
Though Russia still produces other types of naval cruise missiles, the Kalibr nonetheless appears set to remain the mainstay of Russian long-range naval strike capabilities for years to come. The land-attack version, in theory, offers similar performance to the U.S. Tomahawk, while the antiship variant’s terminal supersonic sprint may make it a deadlier weapon at sea. Though the Russian Navy lags far behind the U.S. Navy in regards to numbers of ships, its ability to deploy effective long-range weapons on low-displacement boats should also give U.S. naval planners much to think about.
Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.
Image: Model of Klub antiship rocket. Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons/@Allocer