Hello defence lovers! In this article, we are going talk about top 5 deadliest anti-ship cruise missile. Most of these missiles are in service and are the deadliest weapons of their respective navies
What Is A Cruise Missile?
A cruise missile is a type of guided missile used against terrestrial or surface targets, which remains in the atmosphere and flies covers most of its trajectory at cruising at a constant speed. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over large distances with high accuracy.
Harpoon is the common anti-ship missile of all NATO countries including the United States. More than 7500 units of this missile have been produced. It is a subsonic cruise missile with a maximum speed of 0.7 Mach and a maximum range of 280km. It weighs around 600 kg and is much more compact and portable compared to the supersonic missiles like Brahmos. The slower subsonic missiles are much more manoeuvrable due to their low kinetic energy. But these are also easy targets for air defence systems. Thus these are used to saturate the defence systems.
Tomahawk Anti-Ship Cruise Missile
Tomahawk cruise missiles are the primary land-attack cruise missiles of US and Royal Navy. Developed in the 1970s, these missiles have seen several upgrades. The latest versions are capable of attacking surface ships.
Tomahawk is a subsonic, all-weather, highly versatile cruise missile. It is one of the missiles having longest ranges. Some versions can strike as far as 2,500 km.
This is a battle-proven weapon and has been used extensively in the gulf war and is being used in the war against terrorism. few years ship-based tomahawks struck chemical weapon factory in Syria. All most all the American destroyers, frigates and cruisers carry these in large numbers.
Kalibr is the Russian version of American Tomahawk which comes with some more advance features. Its is a hybrid missile which covers most of its trajectory with subsonic speed but in the terminal phase, it attacks with supersonic speed. It is a versatile missile which comes in many configurations. Some versions have a range as long as 2,500 km. The Talwar class frigates of Indian Navy and the INS Chakra are equipped with these missiles.
BrahMos is the fastest cruise missile in the world till now which is in active service. It is based on Russian P800 Onik, with a reduced range as when it was jointly developed by India and Russia, MTCR rules prevented Russia from co developing a missile having 500km + range.
Brahmos uses ramjet propulsion which gives it a top speed of Mach 3. Unlike other missiles, it covers its entire trajectory with its maximum speed which makes it very difficult to intercept. It uses multiple guidance systems thus making it impossible to JAM. Brahmos has excellent sea-skimming capabilities. It can cruise at 10 m from sea level and can perform S manoeuvre to avoid the CIWS. It has CEP of less than 1 meter making it deadly accurate. Moreover, its kinetic energy is so huge that it can cripple ships like tin cans. BrahMos is known to rip apart ships in two pieces. Brahmos gives its target almost no reaction time (often less than 30 sec), thus interception becomes almost impossible.
The only problem with Brahmos is its cost. A single Brahmos costs over $3 million. Brahmos is also very big and bulky and hence cannot be carried in large numbers. Any target other than an aircraft carrier is not worth to hot with a Brahmos. Actually, the family of Brahmos was designed by soviet union as an anti-aircraft carrier weapon to counter American Aircraft carriers
3M22 Zircon is a Russian Hypersonic anti-surface/anti-ship cruise missile. It is the deadliest cruise missile ever created. It uses liquid scramjet propulsion which can propel it to speeds as high as Mach 9. Its a nightmare for existing naval defence systems. Zircon can penetrate any naval defence system on earth. US Navy has expressed great concerns over hypersonic weapons that are being developed by Russia. According to the US Navy, it will make the current defence systems useless. Only directed energy weapons can possibly counter missiles like Zircon. Moreover, at such high speed, Zircon generates a cloud of plasma around it which absorbs all kind of radar waves which makes it invisible to radars and thus it’s not detectable until its too late. Boeing is developing a similar missile for the US navy called Boeing X-51 Waverider. DRDO is also working on a similar missile which will be named Brahmos -II.
Zircon is currently not in active service but is expected to enter service soon. It will replace the Oniks of the Russian Navy.