Russia adapts P500, P700 and P1000 missiles for ground strikes

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In light of examinations disseminated in various non-Russian media outlets, as referenced by Russian military enthusiasts, it has been discerned that the Russian Ministry of Defense is deliberating over the transformation of antiquated Soviet anti-ship missiles into more broadly applicable surface-to-surface missiles.

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Despite the passage of time, Russia retains an impressive arsenal of potent missiles, numbering in the thousands. This collection notably includes the formidable P-700 Granit, P-500 Basalt, and P-1000 Vulkan missiles. These projectiles, in addition to their primary function of combating naval vessels, possess the capacity to target and decimate the infrastructure facilities of a perceived adversary.

It is indeed a customary occurrence. The Onyx P-800 anti-ship missiles, renowned for their efficiency, have proven their potency in terrestrial usage tests. These supersonic projectiles possess the capability to breach nearly any air defense system, a testament to their formidable nature. Consequently, a myriad of Russian experts have posited that the P-700 Granit, P-500 Basalt, and P-1000 Vulkan serve as efficacious missiles for ground targets. But what warrants this assertion?

P-500, P-700 and P-1000

P-700 Granit cruise missile, photo credit: Wikipedia

Produced initially in 1983, the P-700 Granit is a supersonic missile, bearing certain resemblances to the Onyx. Designed primarily for deployment on Granit and Antey submarines, this missile has been a notable component of Russia’s military arsenal for decades. However, with the majority of these submarines having been decommissioned and subsequently destroyed, the utility of the P-700 Granit in its original form has diminished. 

Given these circumstances, conversion into ground-launched missiles is a logical evolution. This transformation not only extends the operational life of these missiles but also aligns with the strategic direction of Russia’s military. Future developments indicate a shift towards newer missile systems, specifically, the Kalibr and Zircon. As such, the era of the P-700 Granit, in its original form, is expected to reach its conclusion shortly.

The P-500 Bazalt, a supersonic missile bearing resemblance to the Onyx, has been exclusively employed by the esteemed aircraft carrier cruiser, Admiral Kuznetsov. However, in light of the ongoing modernization efforts, Admiral Kuznetsov is set to be equipped with more technologically advanced missiles. Consequently, the P-500 Bazalts are projected to remain largely dormant in the foreseeable future.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The P-1000 Vulcan, a highly sophisticated missile, emerged as the successor to the P-500 Bazalt. This transition marked a crucial advancement in military technology, occurring towards the twilight of the Soviet Union’s existence. The missile cruisers Marshal Ustinov and Varyag serve as the primary carriers for this state-of-the-art weapon. Notably, the Marshal Ustinov warship, even following its modernization, continues to accommodate 16 launchers dedicated to these advanced missiles.

Capacity missiles

The P-500 Basalt, it emerges, undeniably possesses the capacity to be utilized as a surface-to-surface missile. This is primarily because there are no longer any carriers designed for their deployment. However, it is noteworthy that missiles such as the P-700 Granit and the even more powerful P-1000 Vulcan continue to be officially in service with several formidable ships and submarines. Therefore, the feasibility of their modification for land strikes is, to an extent, constrained and not entirely unrestricted.

Reports emerging from the Western media sphere indicate that the Russian Defense Ministry is contemplating a significant strategic shift. Specifically, they are mulling over the possibility of repurposing anti-ship missiles from the Cold War epoch, redirecting their formidable power towards terrestrial objectives. It is crucial to underscore the magnitude of the potential impact of these missiles, as each is equipped with an explosive payload of a staggering 1000 kilograms.

Russia has a missile reserve

Reports indicate that Russia possesses an arsenal comprising hundreds of Basalt missiles, along with its modified version, the P-1000 Vulcan. Concurrently, the nation also houses thousands of P-700 Granit missiles. Given the magnitude of these figures, a salvo initiated from all active service ships could potentially discharge an estimated 500 missiles. Moreover, the existence of thousands more missiles in reserve further bolsters Russia’s missile inventory.

The necessity for missile modernization is evident. Currently, these missiles are engineered to strike targets at sea – a comparatively straightforward task given the lack of geographical complexities in the marine environment. The transition of these missiles to terrestrial targets, however, presents a significant challenge due to the intricate and varied topography of land. The complexities of terrestrial landscapes necessitate a comprehensive review and subsequent upgrade of the existing missile technology.

Photo credit: Reddit

There exists the potential that Russian engineers are currently addressing this issue. Observations have revealed that several Russian missiles have already begun to integrate GLONASS and inertial guidance systems. Experts assert that the process of modifying the P-700 Granit, P-500 Basalt, and P-1000 Vulcan missiles for terrestrial targets may span six months, if not longer.

They just want to hit something

The deployment of the missile is an indication that Russia is adopting what can be referred to as the “kitchen sink strategy,” as per the analysis of Ian Williams, the deputy director of the esteemed Missile Defense Project at the renowned Center for Strategic and International Studies, which he conveyed to Insider in the early part of this year.

At present, there is a remarkable diversity in missile types that we are witnessing, ranging from the latest models to older versions. The intention appears to be a rather indiscriminate desire to inflict damage, as observed by Williams. He asserted that the Kh-22 missiles, in their predominant usage, deviate significantly from their intended military application, effectively functioning as instruments of terror.

Williams articulates that the Russians are employing a diverse array of projectiles, inundating Ukrainian airspace with a plethora of disruptive elements. This strategy is aimed at inducing a degree of confusion in the Ukrainian air defense system, thereby weakening its operational effectiveness.

Ukraine’s aerial fortifications, fortified by Western technology, have hitherto demonstrated impressive efficacy in curtailing Russian offensives, as corroborated by several experts in earlier discussions with Insider. However, the inescapable reality remains that total deterrence is an unattainable ideal.

Understanding instant gratification

According to Williams, the deployment of such an anti-ship missile is indicative of a “short-term approach” adopted by Russia. This strategy, he argues, compromises Russia’s capability to effectively counteract other looming threats.

The Kh-22 missile, according to his statement, represents one of the premier tools in the Russian arsenal designed to counteract forces from the US Navy or NATO. Yet, it is intriguingly observed that these missiles are being deployed to target residential buildings and warehouses.

“This approach exhibits a striking degree of short-termism. It is akin to hastily hurling whatever resources are at hand in any conceivable manner, with the deferred intention of managing the repercussions,” he articulated.


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