Saturday, February 13, 2016

Kalibr Missile Shooter Heading to Mediterranean Sea

"Zelenyy Dol" and "Kovrovets" returning to Sevastopol -- February 12, 2016
"Zelenyy Dol", a patrol ship capable of firing land-attack and anti-ship cruise missiles, and sea-going minesweeper "Kovrovets" departed Sevastopol today to join the Russian Navy's Mediterranean Sea Standing Task Group. This marks the first deployment of the patrol ship to the Mediterranean Sea since it joined the Russian Navy in December 2015. Is this simply a "rotation of forces", as the Southern Military District's press release indicates, or will "Zelenyy Dol" launch missiles into Syria?

"Zelenyy Dol" and its sister ship "Serpukhov" arrived in the Black Sea in late July 2015 for sea trials, were handed over to the Ministry of Defense in November, and were commissioned in December. At no time during the sea trials did defense officials announce that "Zelenyy Dol" or "Serpukhov" had fired either the SS-N-27 anti-ship cruise missile or the SS-N-30 land-attack cruise missile. Thus, both ships joined the Russian Navy on a provisional basis. The Syrian crisis now affords Moscow the opportunity to test fire the SS-N-30 from "Zelenyy Dol" and possibly "Serpukhov" in the near future.

Admiral Aleksandr Vitko on board "Zelenyy Dol" -- January 2016
Both ships conducted at-sea combat training in January; Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Aleksandr Vitko was on "Zelenyy Dol" to observe and grade that crew's performance. And both ships participated in this past week's Southern Military District surprise combat readiness inspection.

Area closure for Russian Navy exercise -- February 8-11, 2016
An area closure and flight bans for a "Russian Navy exercise" in the eastern Mediterranean Sea were in effect on February 8-11. As of today, there are no announced area closures or flight bans that would indicate if or when "Zelenyy Dol" will launch missiles into Syria; however, those could be announced at anytime.