An errant cruise missile accidentally destroyed an apartment building in the village of Nenoksa on Russia’s northern coast earlier today during a test flight.
The missile, which was launched from a test site near Severodvinsk, broke apart shortly after launch. Pieces of the weapons landed in a populated area and caused a fire that damaged four apartments, according to Russian news outlet Lenta.
It is unclear what kind of cruise missile the Russians were testing—however, the Sopka test range is primarily a naval facility, which means that the weapon may likely have been a sea-based system. Indeed, the Russian defense ministry told the TASS news agency that the cruise missile belonged to the NPO Mashinostroyeniya design bureau.
“Industry specialists [at NPO Mashinostroyeniya] held test firing of a cruise missile at a Russian Defense Ministry range,” reads a Russian defense ministry statement, according to TASS. “After the firing, as a result of an abnormal situation, the missile diverged from the set trajectory and fell near the inhabited locality of Nenoksa [Arkhangelsk Region]. A commission of industry representatives is working at the place where the missile fell.”
NPO Mashinostroyeniya’s products have included several supersonic anti-ship missiles, including the P-700 Granit, P-800 Onyx—also called the Yakhont (pictured)—the P-1000 Volcano and the Russian-Indian BrahMos. The design bureau is also reported to be developing a hypersonic cruise missile called the Zircon—however, there is almost no information available about that project.
As well, the company is reportedly working on a next-generation anti-ship missile—and it is possible that this was a test flight for such a weapon. The Russian defense ministry, however, has not said more about the nature of the test except that it was not the Russian navy conducting it.
Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for the National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.