Surface Forces: Klub Begat Kaliber

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May 31, 2012:  Russia recently tested a new version of its Klub anti-ship missile. The 3K14 Kaliber was successfully fired from a vertical launch silo on a Gepard class frigate. The Kaliber can use either an anti-ship or anti-submarine warhead. The older 3M54 Klub missile weighs two tons, is fired from a 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tube, and has a 200 kg (440 pound) warhead. The anti-ship version has a range of 300 kilometers and speeds up to 3,000 kilometers an hour during its last minute or so of flight. There is also an air launched and ship launched version. A land attack version does away with the high speed final approach feature and has a 400 kg (880 pound) warhead.

What makes these missiles particularly dangerous against ships is their final approach, which begins when the missile is about 15 kilometers from its target. Up to that point the missile travels at an altitude of about 32 meters (a hundred feet). This makes the missile more difficult to detect. The "high speed approach" (via the use of additional rockets) means that it covers that last fifteen kilometers in less than twenty seconds. This makes it difficult for current anti-missile weapons to take it down.

The Gepards cost about $200 million each and have been in service for a decade. These ships are 102m (316 feet) long, have a crew of 98, and endurance of 15 days. Top speed is 50 kilometers an hour. These frigates are meant for coastal patrol. They were designed to carry eight anti-ship missiles (usually the 552 kg Kh-35 "Harpoonski") and one SA-N-4 twin rail anti-aircraft missile launcher (with 20 missiles). There is a 76mm cannon, two, six barrel, 30mm anti-missile autocannon, four 533mm torpedo tubes (for anti-submarine operations), and a 12 barrel anti-submarine rocket launcher. The ship also carries up to 20 naval mines. Electronics include navigation and air defense radars as well as sonar. There is an option to provide a helicopter platform (but no hangar).

 

 


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