The Askold missile corvette, one of project 22800 Karakurt ships, was successfully destroyed while it was still at the Zaliv plant in the temporarily occupied Kerch, before it could even get commissioned to the russian Navy. Confirmation of this fact actually signifies more than just a loss of another advanced sea platform for launching cruise missiles, such as the Kalibr and Oniks.
The significance of this attack lies in the strategic importance of the Zaliv plant, which should be protected by the same air defense system that is responsible for safeguarding the Crimean Bridge.
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The russian federation has repeatedly emphasized that the anti-aircraft defense of this facility relies on their most advanced systems, such as the S-400 and Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile launchers. Additionally, the older Osa and Buk were supposed to shield it as well.
Furthermore, alongside standard air defense means, there was a Podsolnukh over-the-horizon radar employed for target detection, and in theory, fighter jets poised to provide additional cover. All of this in coordination with advanced electronic warfare equipment.
Due to Ukraine's methodical and successful attacks on the Crimean Bridge, fortifying the defense of this facility became imperative for the russians. However, the recent cruise missile attack on Askold exposed a number of critical vulnerabilities.
For instance, despite the possibility that Ukrainian Su-24 aircraft were detected approaching to launch Storm Shadow/SCALP missiles, russia failed to dispatch fighters to intercept the cruise missiles. What follows next is, despite active efforts by available on-ground anti-aircraft missile systems, only decoy targets like ADM-160B MALD were likely downed.
Consequently, at least two missiles struck the plant, one hit the ship, and another explosion was captured in surveillance footage, possibly indicating the detonation of a fourth missile out of frame. Remarkably, it seems that the first two missiles hit the ship located behind Askold.
It did not take a massive force to execute this attack, yet it was enough to get through to a facility supposedly protected by a robust anti-aircraft umbrella. Moreover, the incident didn't involve overloading air defense systems with a large number of decoy targets and concurrent cruise missile launches supported by a large-scale electronic warfare operation.
In essence, the destruction of the Zaliv plant serves as a testimony that in order to penetrate russian air defenses, one simply requires a substantial supply of cruise missiles. This incident highlights that the quantity of weapons is a paramount factor and goes beyond the names and features of weapons.
Currently, there's not many options among existing mass-produced weapons with substantial stockpiles, except for the American AGM-158 JASSM, which, even in its oldest AGM-158A version, has a range of 360 km and carries a warhead of approximately 450 kg.
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