Anti-ship missiles: how could Ukraine save Odessa from Russia?
Can anti-ship missiles save the situation in Odessa? The Russians have many warships in the Black Sea ready to fight, and the Ukrainians have only tanks, multiple rocket launcher systems and other artillery pieces to defend the motherland. But is that enough firepower to win a decisive battle? Employing the powerful naval strike missile or Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles could better protect a key coastal city like Odessa which is feared to be the target of a future Russian amphibious attack. But is it really practical or even possible?
Has the Russian attack on Odessa already started?
On March 21, there was reports of a small Russian bombardment against Odessa which could have been carried out by Russian ships. This could be the start of more bombing and the Ukrainians would welcome naval strike missiles and Neptunes to counter the threat.
The Naval Strike Missile is a Norwegian-made anti-ship missile that can be ship-based or shore-based. The Poles and Romanians bought them from the Norwegians Kongsberg Defense & Aeronautics. The Neptune is a Ukrainian-made coastal-to-ship missile that kyiv is trying to rush onto the battlefield.
Worsening of the situation in Odessa
Ukraine wants the Naval Strike Missile and Neptune system because the situation in Odessa looks grim. A small number of Russian shells hit a residential area of Odessa on Monday in an attack that caused a fire in a building, but no casualties were reported. This is the first time that Ukraine’s third largest city has been targeted by the Russians.
The million inhabitants of Odessa are supported by the Ukrainian army 28and mechanized brigade. The brigade finds the most attractive landing sites and positions its tanks and artillery to defend the bridgeheads against the Russians.
The port is essential for Ukraine
The port of Odessa is strategic and more than 50% of Ukrainian trade passes through it. Reuters reported on March 18 that at least seven Russian ships, including amphibious attack ships, were 15 miles off Odessa.
“Due to its importance to the Ukrainian economy, a capture of the port by Russia would represent a material and symbolic loss for Ukraine in the conflict,” said Anne Debie, an analyst at maritime security firm Dryad Global. says US News and World Report.
Get the anti-ship missiles in Odessa
A naval strike missile, if the Poles and Romanians offered it to the Ukrainians, would be a valuable addition to the defense of Odessa. It is about 13 feet long and weighs 880 pounds, including a 276-pound fragmentation warhead. It can fly between 537 and 690 miles per hour above water to escape radar. The Naval Strike Missile, with its infrared seeker, can also perform random maneuvers to evade enemy defenses.
The Neptune anti-ship missile could also be the answer for Odessa if it can be prepared quickly enough. The Ukrainians planned to put the system in the hands of Odessa by April. April is approaching and there are no reports yet of its deployment to the Black Sea coast. Six launchers with 72 missiles and their radars are promised for the coastal city. That’s a lot of missiles to take out Russian ships. The Neptune has a high range of 180 miles. It is launched from an 8X8 truck and targeting can be done by drones.
Complicated trading may not work
To send the naval strike missile to the Ukrainians, the United States would have to be involved. It would be a complicated matter. The Americans are expected to promise a delivery of their own naval strike missiles from Norway to be diverted to Poland and Romania, while the Poles and Romanians are sending their existing naval strike missiles to Ukraine – effectively a trade high stakes. This deal is probably a bridge too far.
Neptunes may not be ready before invasion
The best arrangement is to have the Neptunes delivered to Odessa as soon as possible. The problem is that the crews would have to be trained first. The Ukrainians need to pick up the pace and Russia will prepare the battlefield and likely target neighborhoods with naval bombardment. The Naval Strike Missile and the Neptune system might not arrive fast enough to thwart the Russians.
Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.