The article by
Adam Taylor and Claire Parker for the Washington Post provides the readers with information regarding “Luch” Design Bureau and upcoming anti-ship missile presentation for the first time in 2015.
After Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, “Luch” Design Bureau unveiled in a military exhibition in Kyiv its latest project: an anti-ship cruise missile it called “Neptune”.
Read more: Neptun ASCM plus Vilkha MLRS: To Destroy Moskva Due to Ukrainian Defense Industry's Missile Program
At that time the new missile didn’t draw much attention. However, nowadays it is in the limelight after a U.S. defense official stated that Ukrainian forces used “Neptune” missiles to strike and sink russia’s Black Sea flagship “Moskva” warship.
The successful strike on Wednesday marked a major boost for Ukraine, especially for Ukrainian military industry. russia's cruiser "Moskva" / Open source picture
“For Ukrainians, if they were able to sink this ship or damage it with their own Neptune missiles, that’s a point of pride, first, and a useful military capability in that they will be able to keep the Russian fleet at bay,” said Mark Cancian, senior adviser for the international security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Since russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, foreign-made weapons have been supplied to Ukraine. Among them are
anti-armor weapons produced in the United States, armaments manufactured in Europe and even Soviet antiaircraft systems.
Being a significant arms exporter itself in recent years, Ukrainian weapons have also been developed to fight against russian forces.
Test launches with RK-360MT "Neptune"
Ukraine’s military said its
forces fired two “Neptune” anti-ship missiles at the “Moskva”, damaging it and causing it to sink Thursday. A senior U.S. defense official said Friday that two “Neptune” missiles had struck the ship.
Some Ukrainians viewed the sinking of the "Moskva" as a key moment for the national arms industry.
“For the first time, a warship was destroyed by an anti-ship missile made entirely in Ukraine,” an executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine Daria Kaleniuk, wrote on Twitter.
Kaleniuk, a prominent activist on social media, said such success showed that Ukraine could handle more technologically advanced weapons supplied by NATO countries.
The Neptune was in development before russia’s occupation of Crimea, but the territory’s capture helped push the missile’s production forward. The peninsula houses Ukraine’s main navy base and the Soviet-era coastal defense systems that had once protected the country from attack along the Black Sea.
The RK-360 “Neptune” is itself based on an old Soviet cruise missile called the Kh-35, which had been produced in the Ukrainian town of Kharkiv. The company that developed “Neptune”, Luch Design Bureau, was founded in 1965 and had a long history of designing Soviet missiles.
R-360 missile homing head, R-360 cruise missile, USPU-360 operator's workstation and satellite communication antenna of the RKP-360 mobile command post of the RK-360MC Neptune
If “Neptune” missiles were fired at “Moskva” warship, it would mark the first time that the weapon was used in practice, military experts say. The incident also suggests that the cruise missile, which has a stated range of about 200 miles, can evade missile defense systems such as those onboard the russian ship.
Inside the command post of the RCP-360
The ship was fitted with long-range radar and an S-300 air-defense system, designed to provide protection not only for itself but the rest of the Russian fleet. Accounts from Ukrainian officials suggest that an aerial drone (allegedly Bayraktar TB2) was used to distract the defense systems during the attack.
Ukrainian officials said last year that four countries had expressed interest in importing “Neptune” missile systems for their own use, with Indonesia among those that may receive the first shipment.
RK-360MC "Neptune" during the rehearsal of the parade in honor of the Independence Day of Ukraine, 2021
But there are also worries that Ukraine doesn’t have enough weapons at home.
In an interview last year, Luch Design Bureau director Oleg Korostelov said that “due to lack of funding,” his company would only be able to supply up to 800 of the roughly 2,000 missiles requested by the Ukrainian military.
“Unfortunately, our level of security is low,” he said when asked if Ukraine was prepared to defend itself against a full-scale invasion.
Test sample of the R-360 missile Read more: Russia’s Flagship "Moskva" Sunk, Alligator Helicopter Down, Annihilated Vehicles and UAVs: Weekly Summary of Most Epic Events on April 11-17th