The Ukrainian defense industry has disclosed ongoing efforts towards the development of an extended-range version of the Neptune missile system, primarily designed for maritime defense.
Lieutenant General Ivan Havrilyuk, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, provided insights into this initiative during an interview with ArmiaInform.
The project involves the creation of a new iteration of the domestic cruise missile, commonly referred to as the "long" Neptune. Havrilyuk emphasized that concurrent endeavors with the Ministry of Strategic Industries aim to bolster air defense capabilities. However, specific details regarding the purpose and characteristics of the long-range missile remain undisclosed.
The initial RK-360MC Neptune system was initially crafted for the purpose of neutralizing enemy warships. The envisaged modification, the R-360 cruise missile, is speculated to possess ground-strike capabilities, expanding its potential applications beyond maritime targets.
Earlier reports hinted at the ongoing modification of the Neptune anti-ship missile to engage ground targets. This adaptation involves the integration of a new guidance system while maintaining compatibility with existing launch platforms. The missile is expected to boast a maximum range of 400 km and a warhead weighing 350 kilograms.
Reports suggest that Ukraine has developed a GPS guidance system to direct the missile towards predefined targets, while an infrared homing system takes over during the final stage of flight, locking onto the target based on preloaded images.
The potential of this new missile was demonstrated on September 14, 2023, when Ukrainian Neptune cruise missiles and strike drones reportedly targeted the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system near Yevpatoriya city in Crimea. Security Services of Ukraine representatives disclosed that SSU drones initially incapacitated the radars of the Russian system, paving the way for Navy units equipped with Neptune cruise missiles to attack the launchers of the S-300/S-400 Triumf air defense systems.
Subsequently, on September 21, the SSU, in collaboration with the Ukrainian Navy, orchestrated a combined missile assault on the Saki military airfield in occupied Crimea. Drones were utilized to overwhelm Russian air defense systems before launching Neptune cruise missiles, showcasing the potential strategic deployment of the modified missile.