Sunday, August 3, 2008

India goes clubbing

The Hindustan Times reports that India is on the verge of acquiring a strategic capability to strike land targets thousands of miles from its shores by inducting the Russian underwater launched Klub-S subsonic cruise missiles. These missiles will come as a goody together with the delivery of the Sindhuvijay, an Indian Navy Kilo-class submarine that was overhauled at the Russian Zvezdochka shipyard at the White Sea. The Klub-S is a high-precision missile that can be launched from standard torpedo tubes from a depth of 35 to 40 meters with a range of – according to the Hindustan Times - 275 sm.

The article continues by informing that the Klub-S is not the only new missile that India will get together with the upgraded Kilo-class, known as the Sindhughosh Class in Indian service:

Besides the land attack version, the subs are also coming armed with 3M-54EI anti-ship cruise missiles.

This is all in a tumble; let’s make some sense out of this: the Klub is an anti-sub and anti-ship cruise missile system (ASCM) that is sometimes referred to as the Club, Biryuza, Alpha and Alfa. Two modifications exist: Klub-S for submarines and Klub-N for surface vessels.

The crew of knows that:

Five types of missiles - 3M-54E, 3M-54E1, 3M-14E, 91RE1 and 91RE2 - have been developed for the Club ASCM. The Club-S can be armed with a 3M-54E or 3M-54E1 anti-ship missile, 3M-14E submarine-to-coast missile or a 91RE1 anti-submarine torpedo. The Club-N can be armed with a 3M-54E or 3M-54E1 anti-ship missile, 3M-14E submarine-to-coast missile or a 91RE2 anti-submarine torpedo.

The missiles come with the Kilo-class submarine, so we have the S-version of the Klub family. The range of allegedly 275sm can be corrected to 275kn. There is no Klub-missile with a range of 275sm and the export of such a missile would furthermore put Russia into breach of its MTCR obligations, because 275sm are more than 500km. Because the Hindustan Times brags about the “capability to strike land targets thousands of miles from its shores” we can assume that this missile is the 3M14-E LACM, the family’s land-attack version.

The second missile that was wrongly labeled “3M-54EI” by the Hindustan Times is the 3M-54E1 version of the Klub-S ASCM. This missile is the Russian equivalent of the Tomahawk and is almost identical in shape to the 3M14E. Because the missile is subsonic it must be the 3M-54E1, without the addition 1 it would be the supersonic version, which can only carry a 200kg warhead instead of the 400kg that can be delivered by the 3M-54E1 and the 3M-14E.

Those of you who want more details can have a look at “The Klub Missile Family” by the Defense Threat Information Group.

Ok, the missile riddle is solved. However, there is another piece of information in the screwed up Hindustan Times article that still makes me wonder:

Naval sources said Sindhuvijay will start sailing from the Russian shipyard located close to the White sea on August 5 and dock at Western Naval Command base in Mumbai a week later.
One week for more than 15.000km? This is not bad. According to the conventional wisdom the Kilo-class submarines have a speed of 25 knots = 46km/h. This sums up to 7728 km in a week of full speed ahead. So it seems that the Indian navy preferred to have supersonic submarines over having supersonic Klub missiles.

Picture © DTIG

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