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What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine

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Kalibr launch from a Buyan-M corvette / Open-source illustrative photo
Kalibr launch from a Buyan-M corvette / Open-source illustrative photo

Currently, nine naval carriers of Kalibr LACMs are deployed in the Black Sea posing a threat of a massive salvo of 60 missiles but actually launching such an attack would be too risky for the ships

Invasion forces of russia have been gathering Kalibr cruise missiles for a while now and can use them to strike Ukraine soon, Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Chief, Kyrylo Budanov, warned the citizens while interviewed by journalists at the United News telethon. Given the announced risk, Defense Express has earlier estimated the number of Kalibr missiles russia could have in its possession: 245–285 units.

However, no less important is how many russian forces can discharge simultaneously because oversaturation of air defenses is one of the keys to a successful missile strike. That number would depend on how many available carriers of Kalibr are in position to launch a missile attack.

Read more: russia May Start Using Kalibr Cruise Missiles Soon: Estimating the Quantity of Stockpile
Kalibr launch / Defense Express / What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine
Kalibr launch / Open-source illustrative photo

There are currently nine operational carriers of Kalibr land-attack cruise missiles with access to the Black Sea:

  • 2 Project 11356R frigates (Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov) — up to 8 missiles each: 16 in total;
  • 3 Buyan-M missile corvettes (Vyshny Volochyok, Ingushetia, Grayvoron) — up to 8 missiles each: 24;
  • 1 Karakurt missile corvette (Tsiklon) — up to 8 missiles;
  • 3 Varshavyanka submarines (Stary Oskol, Velikiy Novgorod, Kolpino) — up to 4 missiles each: 12.

That makes a total combined salvo of 60 Kalibr missiles, in case each and every one is deployed. They can launch them from the Black Sea, adjacent to the southern coast of Ukraine, though it also means Ukraine can engage countermeasures.

Admiral Essen, Project 11356R frigate / Defense Express / What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine
Admiral Essen, Project 11356R frigate / Open-source illustrative photo

And actively does so. In particular, the list above misses out two Kalibr carriers damaged in combat: the Rostov-na-Donu submarine damaged in the dry dock in September 2023 and another Karakurt-class corvette named Askold shut down later in November, before it could even leave the shipyard.

The results of the attack on the russian Askold corvette / Defense Express / What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine
The results of the attack on the russian Askold corvette after the attacks on the Zaliv shipyard in the temporarily occupied Kerch, November 6, 2023 / Open source photo

Also, we don't take into account those ships of the russian Black Sea Fleet which cannot enter the Black Sea because as of February 24, 2022, they were in the Mediterranean Sea, now stuck due to Turkiye's decision to not let any military vessels pass through Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. Among those russian ships are two submarines, Krasnodar and Novorossiysk; the Orekhovo-Zuevo Buyan-M corvette; and the Admiral Grigorovich frigate of Project 11356R.

Next, the Alrosa submarine of Project 877 Paltus is not included either because it was not seen using these cruise missiles, moreover, the real combat readiness of the vessel is questionable. Same questions are directed at Amur and Tucha, the two ships of the Karakurt class that were spotted in Novorossiysk, currently under construction, already launched into the water. And we have to remind that the patrol ships of Project 22160 Vasily Bykov cannot carry and launch Kalibr missiles.

Orekhovo-Zuevo, Buyan-M-class corvette / Defense Express / What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine
Orekhovo-Zuevo, Buyan-M-class corvette / Open-source illustrative photo

Thus, taking into account the number of capable ships in the Black Sea and the estimated number of missiles, we can talk about the possibility of the russians launching 4 to 5 volleys of Kalibr missiles with 60 missiles at the peak of capacity. However, as mentioned, such a massive attack would require a simultaneous deployment of all associated missile carriers into the sea, which is impractical and has not been observed previously.

Moreover, it should be taken into account that many of the mentioned russian ships were damaged in hostilities at some point and, while still afloat, may be not in fully combat-capable condition. Not to mention the fact that any exit of russian ships outside the protected harbors could end in an encounter with a pack of Ukrainian Magura V5 kamikaze drones.

Magura V5 unmanned surface vessel / Defense Express / What's the Potential Maximum Salvo of Kalibr Missiles russia's Keeping Next to Ukraine
Magura V5 unmanned surface vessel / Still frame credit: CNN
Read more: Ukrainian Warriors Damage 5 russian Black Sea Fleet Ships in March 2024