What is the Neptune Anti-Ship Cruise Missile? Ukraine's homegrown weapon system sinks Russian flagship

The 12,500-tonne flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet was hit by two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, per Maksym Marchenko, Governor of Odesa Oblast


                            What is the Neptune Anti-Ship Cruise Missile? Ukraine's homegrown weapon system sinks Russian flagship
The RK-360MT Neptune warheads (pictured on top) are mobile anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of more than 186 miles (Ukraine Army)
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A Ukrainian official revealed how the flagship of Russia's Black Sea fleet that fired on soldiers defending Snake Island was badly damaged in a Neptune cruise missile attack off the coast of Odesa. 

The 'Moskva' guided-missile cruiser gained notoriety after firing at Ukrainian defenders of Snake Island who told it to "go f*** yourself" at the start of the war. It has now emerged that the 12,500-tonne flagship of the Russian Black Sea fleet was hit by two Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles, according to Maksym Marchenko, Governor of Odesa Oblast -- the region around the port of Odesa. Russian officials admitted that the Moskva's crew was forced to evacuate but said it was due to a fire after ammunition aboard the ship exploded.

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“It has been confirmed that the missile cruiser Moskva today went exactly where it was sent by our border guards on Snake Island!” Marchenko said of the 610-ft warship. Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukraine’s president, said in a YouTube broadcast that the vessel was “burning strongly” after “a surprise happened," adding “with this stormy sea, it is unknown whether they will be able to receive help." Meanwhile, Ukrainian sources told Sky News that the flagship was hit by anti-ship missiles fired from about 25 nautical miles from Snake Island.

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Russia's defense ministry said “the vessel is seriously damaged” and “the entire crew has been evacuated.” Kremlin officials told the TASS news agency that "ammunition detonated" as a result of "a fire on the Moskva missile cruiser." 

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What is the Neptune Anti-Ship Cruise Missile?

The RK-360MT Neptunes are mobile anti-ship cruise missiles with a range of more than 186 miles. The 16-ft long engine-powered missiles are said to reach speeds of 560mph while traveling in a trajectory between nine and 30ft above the surface. The missiles -- which can be mounted on ships, transported by land, or launched by air -- were reportedly adopted by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in August 2020.

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The weapons, which weigh about 870 kg and carry a 150kg warhead, are capable of destroying targets of up to 5,000 tons using radar-homing guidance. One Neptune division usually has six USPU-360 launchers capable of firing a salvo of 24 anti-ship missiles, according to the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), an independent Russian research organization.

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The Ukrainian navy obtained the first units of the cruise missile system in March 2021 while preparing to strengthen its coastal defenses against Russia. “This system was designed to defend Ukraine in the Azov and the Black seas," Rear Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, the navy's top commanding officer at the time, said. "This will be Ukraine’s missile shield in the sea," he added.

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It's worth noting that the Neptune system was designed by Kyiv-based defense manufacturer LUCH Design Bureau and sold the first batch of missiles to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence. The war-torn nation started a project to develop the weapons in 2014 after losing nearly 80 percent of its naval vessels following Russia's annexation of Crimea. The Ukrainian military had planned to commission three divisions of Neptune cruise missile systems by 2025 along the Black and Azov seas coastline, with one of the batteries on permanent standby duty, the Kyiv Post reported.

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