Earlier this month, Ukraine acquired its first ever RK-360MC Neptune cruise missile system. Ukraine’s southern coastline has had poor defense since Russian interference began in 2014, but this new weapon proves to be a strong initiative from Ukraine on that front. Despite little funding, the project was completed in only a few years. Luch Design Bureau, a Ukrainian engineering company focused on the defense industry, designed the cruise missile system to fill in the gaps on Ukraine’s coastline, where military defense is weak. According to the Kyiv Post, Luch designed the system “as a response to Russia’s growing maritime threat to Ukraine’s barely defended southern coastline after 2014”.
Luch managed to create the missile system in a relatively short period of time, and inexpensively. During live fire tests in Odessa Oblast, the missiles proved to be effective, but it is unclear whether or not Ukraine’s defense will serve as a deterrent for Russia in the Black Sea. Some reports state that nearly 80 percent of Ukraine’s SSC-3 Styx coastal defense missiles were seized by Russian armed forces in 2014 in Crimea. This has left Ukraine’s coasts bare, and left room for Russian naval presence in the Black and Azov Seas.
The Neptune is impressive, and according to its designers has the capability to sink any Black Sea Fleet Russian vessels, not including Russia’s flagship missile cruiser “Moskva”. The features of Ukraine’s new system include “anti-jamming resistance technology and advanced navigation units” and, most impressive, a new Ukrainian-developed, active target-seeking device that would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars to buy from abroad. The new device was created by Radionix, a Kyiv-based defense development company.
In the future, developers hope to expand the project to include anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air weapons. The roadblocks that Ukraine faces, however, are transportation and quantity. There are currently no vessels capable of carrying more than one or two cruise missiles at a time and Ukraine needs around 60 cruise missiles in order to deter a Russian coastal offensive. Coastal defense will likely be a top priority for Ukraine in the future, and while it is not yet equipped to handle a Russian offensive, the development of the Neptune system is an important step toward that goal.
Written by Sarah Wood