Engineering:Anti-ship missile

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Short description: Missile used to attack ships
RGM-84 Harpoon firing from USS Leahy in 1983
Martel guided anti-ship missile
The MBDA Exocet anti-ship missile under a Dassault Rafale
BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile, compatible of being launched from multiple platforms. [citation needed]

An anti-ship missile (AShM)[citation needed] is a guided missile that is designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea skimming variety, and many use a combination of inertial guidance and active radar homing. A large number of other anti-ship missiles use infrared homing to follow the heat that is emitted by a ship; it is also possible for anti-ship missiles to be guided by radio command all the way.

The first anti-ship missiles, which were developed and built by Nazi Germany, used radio command guidance.[1] These saw some success in the Mediterranean Theatre during 1943–44, sinking or heavily damaging at least 31 ships with the Henschel Hs 293 and more than seven with the Fritz X, including the Italian battleship Roma and the light cruiser USS Savannah. A variant of the HS 293 had a TV camera/transmitter on board. The bomber carrying it could then fly outside the range of naval anti-aircraft guns and use visual guidance via the bombardier to lead the missile to its target by radio control.[citation needed]

Many anti-ship missiles can be launched from a variety of weapons systems including surface warships (also referred to as ship-to-ship missiles), submarines, bombers, fighter planes, patrol planes, helicopters, shore batteries, land vehicles, and, conceivably, even infantrymen firing shoulder-launched missiles. The term surface-to-surface missile (SSM) is used when appropriate. The longer-range anti-ship missiles are often called anti-ship cruise missiles.


A typical abbreviation for the phrase "anti-ship missile" is AShM or ASHM, used to avoid confusion with air-to-surface missiles (ASMs), anti-submarine missiles (anti-submarine warfare missiles (ASWMs)), and anti-satellite missiles (ASatMs or ASATMs).[citation needed]


Anti-ship missiles were among the first instances of short-range guided weapons during the Second World War in 1943–1944. The German Luftwaffe used the Hs 293, the Fritz X, as well as others missiles, launched from its bombers, with deadly effect against some Allied ships. The first ship sunk by a guided missile was HMS Egret on 27 August 1943, at the Bay of Biscay,[2] other ships targeted were the British troop carrier HMT Rohna, sunk with heavy loss of life and the United States Navy light cruiser USS Savannah off Salerno, Italy, being seriously damaged. These all used radio command-guidance from the bombardiers of the warplanes that launched them. Some of these hit and either sank or damaged a number of ships, including warships offshore of amphibious landings on western Italy. These radio-controlled missiles were used successfully until the Allied navies developed missile countermeasures—principally radio jamming. The Allies also developed some of their own similar radio-guided AShMs, starting with the US Navy's SWOD-9 Bat – the first autonomously guided, radar-homing anti-ship weapon deployed worldwide, being deployed against the Japanese in April 1945 – but the Bat saw little use in combat, partly from its own late-war deployment date leaving few Axis ships remaining as targets.

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union turned to a sea-denial strategy concentrating on submarines, naval mines and the AShM. One of the first products of the decision was the SS-N-2 Styx missile. Further products were to follow, and they were soon loaded onto the Soviet Air Force 's Tu-95 Bear and Tu-22 Blinder bombers, in the case of the air-launched KS-1 Komet.

P-15 unloaded from missile tube aboard the USNS Hiddensee

In 1967, the Israeli Navy's destroyer Eilat was the first ship to be sunk by a ship-launched missile—a number of Styx missiles launched by Egyptian Komar-class missile boats off the Sinai Peninsula.

In the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 the Indian Navy conducted two raids using Osa-class missile boats employing the Styx on the Pakistani naval base at Karachi. These raids resulted in the destruction or crippling of approximately two thirds of the Pakistani Navy. Major losses included two destroyers, a fleet oiler, an ammunition ship, approximately a dozen merchant ships, and numerous smaller craft. Major shore-based facilities, including fuel storage tanks and naval installations were also destroyed. The Osas returned to base without loss.

The Battle of Latakia in 1973 (during the Yom Kippur/Ramadan War) was the scene of the world's first combat between missile boats. In this battle, the Israeli Navy destroyed Syrian warships without suffering any damage, using electronic countermeasures and ruses for defense. After defeating the Syrian Navy the Israeli missile boats also sank a number of Egyptian warships, again without suffering any damage in return, thus achieving total naval supremacy for the rest of the war.

Anti-ship missiles were used in the 1982 Falklands War. The British warship HMS Sheffield, a Type 42 destroyer, was struck by a single air-launched Exocet and later sank as a result of the damage. The container ship Atlantic Conveyor was hit by two Exocets and burnt out and subsequently sank while under tow. HMS Glamorgan was damaged when she was struck by an MM38, a ship-launched version of the Exocet, fired from a launcher taken from the Argentine Navy destroyer ARA Comodoro Seguí and mounted on a trailer by Navy technicians,[3] but she had taken evasive action that limited the damage.

In 1987, a US Navy guided-missile frigate, USS Stark, was hit by an Exocet anti-ship missile fired by an Iraqi Mirage F-1 fighter plane. Stark was damaged, but she was able to steam to a friendly port for temporary repairs.

In October 1987, Sungari, an American-owned tanker steaming under the Liberian flag, and Sea Isle City, a Kuwaiti tanker steaming under the American flag, were hit by Iranian HY-2 missiles.

In 1988 AShMs were fired by both American and Iranian forces in Operation Praying Mantis in the Persian Gulf. During this naval battle, several Iranian warships were hit by American AShMs (and by the US Navy's Standard missiles—surface-to-air missiles which were doing double-duty in the anti-ship role). The US Navy hit the Iranian Navy frigate Sahand with three Harpoon missiles, four AGM-123 Skipper rocket-propelled bombs, a Walleye TV-guided bomb, and several 1,000 lb (454 kg) "iron bombs". Despite the large number of munitions and successful hits, Sahand did not sink until fire reached her ammunition magazine, causing it to detonate, sinking the vessel.[4] In the same engagement, American warships fired three Standard missiles at an Iranian Navy corvette. This corvette had such a low profile above the water that a Harpoon missile that arrived several minutes later could not lock onto it with its targeting radars.

In 2006, Lebanese Hezbollah fighters fired an AShM at the Israeli corvette INS Hanit, inflicting battle damage, but this warship managed to return to Israel in one piece and under its own power. A second missile in this same salvo struck and sank an Egyptian merchant ship.

On 13 April 2022, the Ukrainian government claimed to have hit the Russian cruiser Moskva with two R-360 Neptune missiles, resulting in the sinking of the Moskva. The Russian government did not confirm the attack, but admitted that the ship sank after a fire.[5] If Ukrainian claims are true, Moskva might be the largest warship ever disabled or destroyed by a missile, according to Carl Schuster, a retired US Navy captain and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center.[6]


Name Year Weight Warhead Range Speed Propulsion Launch platform Guidance Force Comments
Zircon[7] Expected for (2018-[8] 2020)[9] Size 4 pcs instead of 1 P-700 for 1 launcher 300–400 kg
(660–880 lb)
conventional or nuclear
400 km
(220 nmi) (export)
>1,000 km
(540 nmi) (domestic)[10]
Minimum 4700 km/h (Mach 5 to 6) [9] potentially up to Mach 8 [11] Liquid fuel scramjet Surface, submarine ? Russia
3M-54E Klub (SS-N-27 "Sizzler") 2006 2,300 kg
(5,100 lb)
200 kg
(440 lb)
220 km
(120 nmi)
0.8 M, 2.5/2.9M Turbojet Surface, sub, shipping container Inertial, active radar Russia
3M-54E1 Klub (SS-N-27 "Sizzler") 2006 1,780 kg
(3,920 lb)
400 kg
(880 lb)
300 km
(160 nmi)
0.8 M, 2.5/2.9M Turbojet Surface, sub, shipping container Inertial, active radar Russia
3M-54 Kalibr (SS-N-27 "Sizzler") 1993 1,300 kg
(2,900 lb)
200 kg
(440 lb)
660 km
(360 nmi)
0.8 M, 2.5/2.9M Turbojet Surface, sub, shipping container Inertial, active radar Russia Used in combat
P-1000 Vulkan 1985 6,300 kg
(13,900 lb)
500 kg
(1,100 lb)
700 and 1000 (appx.)  km (or 800 km[12]) 3,825 km/h (2,065 kn) Solid-fuel ramjet Surface Inertial, active radar homing/anti radar, mid course correction USSR/Russia
P-800 Oniks (SS-N-26) 1983 3,000 kg
(6,600 lb)
250 kg
(550 lb)
800 km
(430 nmi) (Oniks-M)
600 km (320 nmi) (Domestic version for Russia)
3,600 km/h (1,900 kn) Ramjet Surface, air Active-passive, radar Russia
P-700 Granit 1980 7,000 kg
(15,000 lb)
750 kg
(1,650 lb)
625 km
(337 nmi)
2,550 km/h (1,380 kn) Solid-fuel ramjet Surface Inertial, active radar homing/anti radar, mid course correction USSR/Russia
P-500 Bazalt (SS-N-12 SANDBOX) 1975 4,500 kg
(9,900 lb)
1000 kg / 350 kt nuclear 550 km
(300 nmi)
3,060 km/h (1,650 kn) Liquid fuel rocket Surface, submarine Semi-active, terminal active radar USSR
P-270 Moskit (SS-N-22 SUNBURN) 1970 4,500 kg
(9,900 lb)
320 kg
(710 lb)
120 km
(65 nmi)
3,600 km/h (1,900 kn) Ramjet Surface, air Active radar, infrarred USSR
P-120 Malakhit (SS-N-9 SIREN) 1972 2,953 kg
(6,510 lb)
500 kg
(1,100 lb)
110 km
(59 nmi)
Mach 0.9 Turbojet, solid fuel Surface Inertial, mid course correction, active radar USSR Used in combat
P-70 Ametist (SS-N-7 STARBRIGHT) 1968 3,500 kg
(7,700 lb)
500 kg
(1,100 lb)
65 km
(35 nmi)
1,050 km/h (570 kn) Solid rocket Sub Inertial, terminal homing USSR
P-15 Termit (SS-N-2 STYX) 1958 3,100 kg
(6,800 lb)
454 kg
(1,001 lb)
80 km
(43 nmi)
1,100 km/h (590 kn) Liquid fuel rocket Surface Active radar, infrarred USSR Used in combat
P-5 Pyatyorka (SS-N-3 "Shaddock") 1959 5,000 kg
(11,000 lb)
1,000 kg
(2,200 lb)
750 km
(400 nmi)
1,000 km/h (540 kn) Turbojet Surface Inertial, mid course correction, active radar USSR
Kh-15 (AS-16 Kickback) 1988 1,200 kg
(2,600 lb)
150 kg conventional/nuclear 300 km
(160 nmi)
6,125 km/h (3,307 kn) Solid-fuel rocket Air Inertial/Active radar USSR/Russia
Kh-55 1984 1,700 kg
(3,700 lb)
410 kg
(900 lb) conventional/200 kt nuclear
300 km
(160 nmi)
828 km/h (447 kn) Turbofan Air Radar inertial, tERCOM, infrared USSR/Russia
Kh-35 (AS-20 KAYAK) 1983 520 kg
(1,150 lb)
145 kg
(320 lb)
130 km
(70 nmi)
970 km/h (520 kn) Turbofan Surface, air Inertial, active radar USSR/Russia/North Korea
Kh-22 (AS-4 Kitchen) 1962 5,820 kg
(12,830 lb)
1000 kg conventional/nuclear 400 km
(220 nmi)
4,000 km/h (2,200 kn) Liquid-fuel rocket Air Inertial USSR/Russia
KSShch (SS-N-1 "Scrubber") 1958 2,300 kg
(5,100 lb)
Nuclear 40 km
(22 nmi)
1,150 km/h (620 kn) Liquid-fuel rocket Surface Inertial USSR
SM-6 2013 1,500 kg
(3,300 lb)
64 kg
(141 lb)
370 km
(200 nmi)
4,287.7 km/h (2,315.2 kn) two stage/solid rocket booster surface ships, transporter erector launcher Inertial guidance, active radar homing, semi active radar homing United States (The anti-ship version will enter service in 2023.)
AGM-158C LRASM 2013[13] / 2018[14] ~900 kg 450 kg 370–560 km
(200–300 nmi)[15][16][17]
High subsonic Turbojet Air, ship Passive radar and infrared homing United States
AGM-123 Skipper II 1985 582 kg
(1,283 lb)
450 kg
(990 lb)
25 km
(13 nmi)
1,100 km/h (590 kn) Solid-fueled Air Laser-guided United States Used in combat
BGM-109 Tomahawk 1983 1,200 kg
(2,600 lb)
450 kg
(990 lb)
1,666 km
(900 nmi) (Block V) [18]
880 km/h (480 kn) Turbofan Air, surface, submarine GPS, TERCOM, DSMAC United States (Previous anti-ship version withdrawn from service in 1994, new anti-ship version will enter service in 2023.)
Harpoon 1977 691 kg
(1,523 lb)
221 kg
(487 lb)
280 km
(150 nmi)
864 km/h (467 kn) Turbojet engine Air, surface, submarine Radar (B3: midcourse update) United States Used in combat
AGM-65F Maverick 1972 300 kg
(660 lb)
140 kg
(310 lb)
30 km
(16 nmi)
1,150 km/h (620 kn) Solid propellant Air Laser, infrarred United States Used in combat
Bat 1944 1,000 kg
(2,200 lb)
727 kg
(1,603 lb)
37 km
(20 nmi)
260–390 km/h (140–210 kn) None Air Active radar United States Used in combat
MMP 2017 15 kg
(33 lb)
? 5 km
(2.7 nmi)
? Solid propellant Surface Infrared France
ANL/Sea Venom 2017 110 kg
(240 lb)
30 kg
(66 lb)
20 km
(11 nmi)
? ? Air/Surface Infrared France/United Kingdom
AS.34 Kormoran 1991 630 kg
(1,390 lb)
220 kg
(490 lb)
35 km
(19 nmi)
1,101 km/h (594 kn) Rocket Air Inertial, active radar France/Germany
AS.15TT/MM.15 1985 96 kg
(212 lb)
30 kg
(66 lb)
15 km
(8.1 nmi)
1,008 km/h (544 kn) Solid propellant Air Inertial France
ARMAT 1984 550 kg
(1,210 lb)
160 kg
(350 lb)
120 km
(65 nmi)
1,100 km/h (590 kn) Solid propellant Air Passive radar France
Otomat/Milas 1977 770 kg
(1,700 lb)
210 kg
(460 lb)
360 km
(190 nmi) (min.)
1,116 km/h (603 kn) Turbojet Surface, air Inertial, GPS, active radar France/Italy
Exocet 1975 670 kg
(1,480 lb)
165 kg
(364 lb)
180 km
(97 nmi)
1,134 km/h (612 kn) Solid propellant (Block 1, block 2), turbojet (Block 3) Air, surface, submarine Inertial, active radar France Used in combat
AS.37/AJ.168 Martel 1970 550 kg
(1,210 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
60 km
(32 nmi)
1,070 km/h (580 kn) Solid propellant Air Passive radar, TV France/United Kingdom Used in combat
Malafon 1966 1,330 kg
(2,930 lb)
? 13 km
(7.0 nmi)
808 km/h (436 kn) Solid propellant Ship, surface MCLOS (radio link) France
SS.12/AS.12 1960 76 kg
(168 lb)
28 kg
(62 lb)
7 km
(3.8 nmi)
370 km/h (200 kn) Solid-fueled Air, surface Wire-guided MCLOS France Used in combat
Malaface 1954 1,430 kg
(3,150 lb)
700 kg
(1,500 lb)
40 km
(22 nmi)
808 km/h (436 kn) Solid propellant Surface MCLOS (radio link) France
BHT-38 1940 160 kg
(350 lb)
? ? ? None (glide bomb) Air MCLOS (radio link) France
Sea Eagle 1985 580 kg
(1,280 lb)
230 kg
(510 lb)
110 km
(59 nmi) (min.)
1,000 km/h (540 kn) Turbojet Air Inertial, active radar United Kingdom
Sea Skua 1983 145 kg
(320 lb)
28 kg
(62 lb)
25 km
(13 nmi)
950 km/h (510 kn) Solid fuel Air Semi-active radar United Kingdom Used in combat
RBS-15 1985 800 kg
(1,800 lb)
200 kg
(440 lb)
200 km
(110 nmi)
1,101 km/h (594 kn) Turbojet Air, surface Inertial, GPS, radar Sweden
RB 08 1966 ? ? 70 km
(38 nmi)
Subsonic Turbojet Surface Radio link active radar Sweden/France
RB 04 1962 600 kg
(1,300 lb)
300 kg
(660 lb)
32 km
(17 nmi)
Subsonic Solid propellant Air Active radar Sweden
Naval Strike Missile 2009 410 kg
(900 lb)
125 kg
(276 lb)
250 km
(130 nmi)
High subsonic Turbojet and solid fuel booster Air, surface Inertial, GPS, terrain-reference, imaging IR, target database Norway
Penguin 1972 385 kg
(849 lb)
130 kg
(290 lb)
55 km
(30 nmi) (min.)
1,468 km/h (793 kn) Solid propellant Air, surface, submarine Inertial, laser, infrarred Norway
Fritz X 1943 1,362 kg
(3,003 lb)
320 kg
(710 lb)
5 km
(2.7 nmi)
1,235 km/h (667 kn) None (glide bomb) Air Manual (radio link) Germany Used in combat
Henschel Hs 293 1943 1,045 kg
(2,304 lb)
295 kg
(650 lb)
5 km
(2.7 nmi)
828 km/h (447 kn) Liquid-propellant, then gliding Air MCLOS (radio link) Germany Used in combat
Blohm & Voss BV 246 1943 730 kg
(1,610 lb)
435 kg
(959 lb)
210 km
(110 nmi)
450 km/h (240 kn) None (glide bomb) Air Manual (radio link) Germany
RK-360MC Neptune 2021 870 kg
(1,920 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
300 km
(160 nmi)
Subsonic Turbofan Ground based TEL ? Ukraine Used in combat[19]
BrahMos-II 2024+ ? ? 1,000 km
(540 nmi)
400 km
(220 nmi)(export version)
6,125–8,575 km/h (3,307–4,630 kn) Scramjet Ship, surface, air, submarine ? India/Russia
BrahMos 2006 2,500 kg
(5,500 lb) (air), 3,000 kg
(6,600 lb) (ground)
300 kg
(660 lb)
290 km
(160 nmi)(Export version)
400 km
(220 nmi)(air-launched version)
700 km
(380 nmi)(surface-launched version)
3,675 km/h (1,984 kn) Ramjet Ship, surface, air, submarine Inertial, active radar India/Russia
Çakır (missile) 2023 275–330 kg
(606–728 lb)
70 kg
(150 lb)
150–200 km
(81–108 nmi)
919–1,040 km/h (496–562 kn) Turbojet Ship, surface, air Inertial, IIR, RF, Hybrid (IIR+RF) Turkey
Atmaca 2017 800 kg
(1,800 lb)
220 kg
(490 lb)
220 km
(120 nmi)
+280 km
(150 nmi) (KARA Atmaca)[20] [21]
1,042 km/h (563 kn) Turbojet Ship, surface, air Inertial/GPS+RA+DL Turkey
SOM (missile) 2006 600 kg
(1,300 lb)
230 kg
(510 lb)
SOM-A:250 km (160 mi) SOM-J:185 km (115 mi) 1,153 km/h (623 kn) Turbojet Air Inertial / GPS, terrain referenced navigation, automatic target recognition, imaging infrared Turkey
XASM-3 2016 940 kg
(2,070 lb)
? 150 km
(81 nmi)(original version)
400 km
(220 nmi)(extended range)
3,707 km/h (2,002 kn) Ramjet Air Inertial / GPS, mid-course correction, active/passive radar Japan
Type 12 2015 700 kg
(1,500 lb)
? 200 km
(110 nmi)(original version)
400 km
(220 nmi)(ship/air-launched and improved version)
900 km
(490 nmi)(upgrade in development)
1,500 km
(810 nmi)(future version)
? Turbojet Ship, TEL, Air Inertial, GPS, AESA Japan
Type 93 1993 530 kg
(1,170 lb)
? 170 km
(92 nmi)
? Turbojet Air Inertial and IR Image Japan
Type 91 1991 510 kg
(1,120 lb)
260 kg
(570 lb)
150 km
(81 nmi)
? Turbojet Air Inertial, mid course correction, active radar Japan
Type 80 1982 600 kg
(1,300 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
50 km
(27 nmi)
? Turbojet Air Infarred Japan
Ohka 1943 2,140 kg
(4,720 lb)
1,200 kg
(2,600 lb)
36 km
(19 nmi)
630 km/h (340 kn) Solid-propellant Air Manned (suicide attack) Japan Used in combat
Hsiung Feng III 2007 1,470 kg
(3,240 lb)
? 400 km
(220 nmi)
3,062 km (1,653 nmi) Ramjet Ship, surface, air Inertial / Active radar Taiwan
Hsiung Feng IIE 2011 1,600 kg
(3,500 lb)
? 600–2,000 km
(320–1,080 nmi)
1,041 km (562 nmi) Solid-fuel rocket Ship, surface, air Inertial/GPS/TERCOM Taiwan
Hsiung Feng II 1990 685 kg
(1,510 lb)
180 kg
(400 lb)
20–250 km
(11–135 nmi)
1,041 km (562 nmi) Solid-fuel rocket Ship, surface, air Inertial midflight / Dual active radar plus infrared homing Taiwan
Hsiung Feng I 1978-2012 537.5 kg
(1,185 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
40 km
(22 nmi)
833 km (450 nmi) Solid-fuel rocket Ship, surface, air Inertial / Radar beam riding plus terminal semi-active homing Taiwan
Gabriel 1962 522 kg
(1,151 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
60 km
(32 nmi)
840 km/h (450 kn) Solid-fuel rocket Air, surface Active radar Israel Used in combat
Hae Sung-I (SSM-700K) 2005 718 kg
(1,583 lb)
300 kg
(660 lb)
150 km
(81 nmi)
1,013 km/h (547 kn) Turbojet Ship, surface Inertial, active radar South Korea
Noor 2005 750 kg
(1,650 lb)
165 kg
(364 lb)
30–220 km
(16–119 nmi)
1,110–1,728 km/h (599–933 kn) Turbojet engine Air, Surface, Ship Inertial, Active radar homing Iran Used in combat
Zafar 2012 120 kg
(260 lb)
30 kg
(66 lb)
25 km
(13 nmi)
0.8 M Turbojet Surface, Ship Active radar Iran
P15 & Silkworm KN1 ? ? ? ? ? Turbofan Surface, coastal Inertial, active radar North Korea/USSR/Russia
MANSUP 2009 380 kg
(840 lb)
250 kg
(550 lb)
74–100 km
(40–54 nmi)
870 km/h (470 kn) Solid-fuel rocket Ship, surface Inertial, active radar Brazil
MANSUP-ER[22] 2023 380 kg
(840 lb)
250 kg
(550 lb)
200 km
(110 nmi)
950 km/h (510 kn) Turbofan Ship, surface Inertial, active radar Brazil
NASM-SR[23] Expected for 2024 375 kg
(827 lb)
100 kg
(220 lb)
55 km
(30 nmi)
980 km/h (530 kn) Solid-fuel rocket Air Inertial, satellite guidance, IIR India
Naval anti ship missile -MR[23] Expected for 2025 750 kg
(1,650 lb)
150 kg
(330 lb)
150–250 km
(81–135 nmi)
980 km/h (530 kn) Solid-fuel rocket Air Inertial, satellite guidance, IIR India
ITCM 2023 1,450 kg
(3,200 lb)
200–300 kg
(440–660 lb)
1,000 km
(540 nmi)
1,110 km/h (600 kn) Turbofan Ship, Surface, Air, Submarine Inertial, satellite guidance, IIR India

Threat posed

File:Ракетный удар гвардейского ракетного крейсера «Варяг» и поражение судна-мишени класса «крейсер».ogv Anti-ship missiles are a significant threat to surface ships, which have large radar, radio, and thermal signatures that are difficult to suppress. Once acquired, a ship cannot outrun or out-turn a missile, the warhead of which can inflict significant damage. To counter the threat posed, the modern surface combatant has to either avoid being detected, destroy the missile launch platform before it fires its missiles, or decoy or destroy all of the incoming missiles.

Modern navies have spent much time and effort developing counters to the threat of anti-ship missiles since the Second World War. Anti-ship missiles have been the driving force behind many aspects of modern ship design, especially in navies that operate aircraft carriers.

The first layer of antimissile defense by a modern, fully equipped aircraft carrier task force is always the long-range missile-carrying fighter planes of the aircraft carrier itself. Several fighters are kept on combat air patrol (CAP) 24 hours a day, seven days a week when at sea, and many more are put aloft when the situation warrants, such as during wartime or when a threat to the task force is detected.

These fighters patrol up to hundreds of miles away from the task force and they are equipped with airborne radar systems. When spotting an approaching aircraft on a threatening flight profile, it is the responsibility of the CAP to intercept it before any missile is launched. If this cannot be achieved in time, the missiles themselves can be targeted by the fighters's own weapons systems, usually their air-to-air missiles, but in extremis, by their rapid-fire cannon.

However, some AShMs might "leak" past the task force's fighter defenses. In addition, many modern warships operate independently of carrier-based air protection and they must provide their own defenses against missiles and aircraft. Under these circumstances, the ships themselves must utilize multilayered defenses which have been built into them.

For example, some warships, such as the US Navy's Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruisers, the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, and the Royal Navy's Type 45 guided missile destroyer, use a combination of radar systems, integrated computer fire-control systems, and agile surface-to-air missiles (SAM) to simultaneously track, engage, and destroy several incoming anti-ship missiles or hostile warplanes at a time.

The primary American defensive system, called the Aegis Combat System, is also used by the navies of Japan, Spain, Norway, South Korea, and Australia. The Aegis system has been designed to defend against mass attacks by hostile anti-ship missiles or warplanes.

Any missiles that can elude the interception by medium-ranges SAM missiles can then be either deceived with electronic countermeasures or decoys; shot down by short-range missiles such as the Sea Sparrow or the Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM); engaged by the warship's main gun armament (if present); or, as a last resort, destroyed by a close-in weapon system (CIWS), such as the American Phalanx CIWS, Russian Kashtan CIWS, or the Dutch Goalkeeper CIWS.

Current threats and vulnerabilities

To counter these defense systems, countries such as Russia are developing or deploying missiles that slowly cruise at a very low level (about five meters above sea level) to within a short range of their target and then, at the point when radar detection becomes inevitable, initiate a supersonic, high-agility sprint (potentially with anti-aircraft missile detection and evasion) to close the terminal distance. Missiles, such as the SS-N-27 Sizzler, that incorporate this sort of threat modality are regarded by US Navy analysts as potentially being able to penetrate the US Navy's defensive systems.[24]

Recent years have seen a growing amount of attention being paid to the possibility of ballistic missiles being re-purposed or designed for an anti-ship role. Speculation has focused on the development of such missiles for use by China's People's Liberation Army Navy. Such an anti-ship ballistic missile would approach its target extremely rapidly, making it very difficult to intercept.[25]


Countermeasures against anti-ship missiles include:

On February 25, 1991, during the first Gulf War, the Phalanx-equipped USS Jarrett was a few miles from USS Missouri and the destroyer HMS Gloucester. The ships were attacked by an Iraqi Silkworm missile (often referred to as the Seersucker), at which Missouri fired its SRBOC chaff. The Phalanx system on Jarrett, operating in the automatic target-acquisition mode, fixed upon Missouri's chaff, releasing a burst of rounds. From this burst, four rounds hit Missouri which was two to three miles (3.2 to 4.8 km) from Jarrett at the time. There were no injuries.[26] A Sea Dart missile was then launched from HMS Gloucester, which destroyed the Iraqi missile, achieving the first successful engagement of a missile by a missile during combat at sea.

  • Close-in weapon systems (CIWS), including the Soviet-or Russian-made AK-630 or Kashtan, German Millennium Gun or the Phalanx and Goalkeeper. These are automated gun systems mounted on the deck of a ship that use radar to track the approaching missile, and then attempt to shoot it down during its final approach to the target.
  • Anti-aircraft guns such as the Mk 45 5-inch (127 mm) naval gun or the AK-130
  • Electronic warfare equipment (such as AN/SLQ-32 Electronic Warfare Suite)
  • Decoy systems (such as chaff, the US Navy's Mark 36 SRBOC system), and flares, or more active decoys such as the Nulka

Modern stealth ships – or ships that at least employ some stealth technology – to reduce the risk of detection and to make them a harder target for the missile itself. These passive countermeasures include:

Examples of these include the Norwegian Skjold-class patrol boat, the Swedish Visby-class corvette, the German Sachsen-class frigate, the US Navy's Zumwalt-class destroyer and Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, their Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force's close counterparts in Aegis warships, the Atago-class destroyer, and the Kongo-class destroyer, the Chinese Type 054 frigate and the Type 052C destroyer, Russian Navy's Admiral Gorshkov-class frigate and Steregushchiy-class corvette, the Indian Shivalik-class frigate, Kolkata-class destroyer and Visakhapatnam-class destroyer, the French La Fayette-class frigate, the FREMM multipurpose frigate and the Royal Navy's Type 45 destroyer.

In response to China's development of anti-ship missiles and other anti-access/area denial capabilities, the United States has developed the AirSea Battle doctrine.


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External links