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Ukraine's Neptun is Not the Only Missile Transformed into LACM But Definitely One of Very Few

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Ukrainian Neptun missile system / Archive photo
Ukrainian Neptun missile system / Archive photo

Let's discuss who else tried to remake an anti-ship missile so it can attack targets on land

More details have been resurfacing recently about how Ukrainians could have turned their Neptun anti-ship missile into a land attack cruise missile (LACM) and launched strikes on russian rear facilities. In this context, a question arises, if anyone ever tried to redesign the existing coastal defense missiles into LACM weapons in the same manner.

The short answer is, the instances were few and far between. Those are rather exceptions that prove how unique the Neptun transformation project actually was.

Read more: The Purpose of Car Tires on russian Tu-95 Bombers, or How Neptun Got New Controversial "Eyes" to Hit Land Targets
Harpoon Coastal Defense System (HCDS) launching Harpoon Block II
Harpoon Coastal Defense System (HCDS) launching Harpoon Block II / Open source photo

Here we discuss only those cases when a "purely" anti-ship missile was initially created and acquired the land attack capability over the development, redesigned, basically.

That's why, for example, we can already rule out NSM and the Harpoon Coastal Defence System, both were originally designed with land attack capability from the start.

NSM of the Polish Navy / Photo credit: Defence24
Naval Strike Missile of the Polish Navy / Photo credit: Defence24

Additionally, we should count out the russian Bal system with Kh-35U missiles that is reportedly used for shelling targets on the Ukrainian mainland. Because no actual "remaking" was done to the missile or the system.

In 2021, the russian media said otherwise, announcing a complete overhaul in order to enable strikes on land target and range increase up to 500 km. However, later same year, the statements were refuted by none but Putin himself, so the Kh-35U used for attacks on Ukraine are likely the same as those used against ships.

Bal anti-ship missile system
Bal anti-ship missile system / Open source archive photo

That leaves us only a handful of projects aimed to modify anti-ship missiles to add that LACM feature. Moreover, all of them besides Neptun are still in progress.

The first one is developed in Japan: the Type 12 with its range of 200 km is being worked on. The result should be able to launch strikes 1,200 km deep into land, the time frame until finish was estimated at several years.

Japanese Type 12 missile transporter-erector-launcher
Japanese Type 12 missile transporter-erector-launcher / Open source illustrative photo

The second and last project is carried out in Turkiye. The Atmaca missile will get the new KARA Atmaca version to attack targets on solid ground – namely, on Greek air defense systems particularly. The creators, though, only plan to change the guidance unit. The specifications would remain the same. Defense Express looked closer at this project in our dedicated article.

As the bottom line, Ukraine's effort to modify Neptun and turn it into a LACM is indeed unique and pioneering, in some sense.

KARA Atmaca launch
Turkish KARA Atmaca launch / Illustrative image rendered by Roketsan
Read more: One Tu-141 Strizh Damaged Three Tu-22M3 and a Kh-32, russians Officially Admit