Monday, October 12, 2015

Kalibr vs Klub: There's a Difference

Defense News' "Is Caspian Sea Fleet a Game-Changer?" article from October 11 demonstrates a confusion between Russian missile systems that has plagued other articles published following the October 7 launch of long-range land-attack cruise missiles by Russian Navy ships operating in the Caspian Sea. The main thing to remember is that Kalibr is the name assigned to the Russian domestic version of a missile complex that can launch several types of missiles (3M14 [SS-N-30 land-attack cruise missile], 3M54 [SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missile], and 91R [antisubmarine missile]), while Klub is the name assigned to the export version of the same missile complex.

Other confusing points include:
"The inland sea features naval forces from the four bordering countries — Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkmenistan in addition to Russia..."
It's actually five, if you include Kazakhstan.

"...the Kalibr long-range version has only recently reached operational status."
Relatively recently; it reached operational status when the first launch platform, Gepard-class frigate "Dagestan", was commissioned in November 2012.

"But until now it was not clear that smaller ships, including the Project 21631 Buyan-M corvettes that also took part in the Oct. 7 attacks, could operate the weapon."
-- There should be nothing unclear about this. The first two units of the Sviyazhsk class of guided missile patrol combatants, "Grad Sviyazhsk" and "Uglich", were delivered to the RF Ministry of Defense in December 2013 after sea trials and state testing, which included launches of the SS-N-27 and SS-N-30. The ships were subsequently commissioned into the RF Navy and joined the Caspian Flotilla in July 2014. The third unit, "Velikiy Ustyug" was delivered to the RF Ministry of Defense in November 2014 following a similar sea trials + state testing period; it was commissioned into the RF Navy and joined the Caspian Flotilla the next month.

"This was not a missile seen as being normally carried by the corvettes, which had [shorter-range] Klub missiles as opposed to the land-attack version..."
None of the Sviyazhsk ships were ever armed with the Klub missile complex.

"So far, the Vietnamese versions do not seem to be armed with the Kalibr missile."
-- Again, Kalibr = domestic; Klub = export.

"The six Buyan-M corvettes were known to be fitted with an eight-cell vertical launch system mounted amidships, capable of launching the SS-N-27 Klub[1] missile, but this is the first demonstration[2] of their ability to use the longer-range Kalibr."
-- [1] Should be 'Kalibr'; [2] Except for all the launches performed as part of pre-acceptance state testing.