Forty years ago, on November 22, 1957, following the launch of a P-5 cruise missile
from a submarine, the OKB-52 Experimental Design Bureau, today the Machine-Building
Research and Production Association (MBR&PA), entered a new stage in its
For the first
time the missile was fired directly from its container outfitted with short guides. After
liftoff, the missile's wings automatically deployed in flight. The new launch method made
it possible to eliminate weapon system assembly operations, typical of the P-10
domestically produced missile system and Regulus, its foreign counterpart operational at
that time, on board the submarine. By virtue of this engineering innovation, the number of
missiles carried by submarines was considerably increased, their maintenance became much
simpler and combat readiness of the entire "submarine - weapon" system became
higher. It is basically these features that allowed the missile to win a competition
between various designs. The system entered service with a group of submarines and became
one of the first and powerful weapons capable of performing strategic missions in ocean
theaters of operations. Later, the engineering solutions incorporated in the missile
system were recognized by domestic and foreign rocket builders as classical, without which
one cannot even imagine further development and wide use of cruise missiles by armed
On the basis of the advanced engineering solutions and other fundamentally new approaches
incorporated in the P-5 missile, the MBR&PA developed several generations of cruise
missiles which actually made a revolution in Russia's Navy and its armament. All of them
featured such unique qualities as supersonic speed and powerful "smart" warheads
adequately protected both in flight and on board their platforms. The missiles developed
in Moscow suburb of Reutovo were equipping all domestic submarines - antiship missile
system carriers - and most of surface fleet combatants, including nuclear-powered
cruiser Pyotr Veliky and heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, Russian Navy's
in the development of previous-generation weapon systems, combined with the latest
scientific and technological achievements made in Russia's defense industry, have enabled
the MBR&PA headed by Gerbert Yefremov, General Designer, to start developing the
fourth-generation antiship missiles.
antiship missile is designed to combat naval surface-ship groupings and single ships under
heavy fire and electronic counteraction.
The missile is
- over-the-horizon range;
- true "fire-and-forget" performance;
- flexible flight path ("low", "high - low");
- supersonic speed at all flight phases;
- multi-platform capability permitting their use by surface ships of all major classes,
submarines and ground-based launchers.
Capabilities of the Yakhont antiship missile
2. Launch phase
3. Acceleration and ascent
4. High-altitude cruise phase
5. Diving phase
6. Seeker head activation and acquisition of target
7. Descent and low-altitude flight
8. Seeker head repeated activation
and missile homing
The parameters and performance characteristics given in Table 1 have become technically
feasible due to the application of an array of unique design solutions and
technology-intensive components and, above all, a supersonic ramjet sustainer motor,
capable of operating in a broad range of speeds and altitudes, a noise-adaptive radar
homing head, and a powerful onboard computer.
development of the missile, designers made use of a system approach, where different
components, producing different output parameters, were integrated into a complex,
well-tuned system capable of accomplishing its dedicated purpose with maximum efficiency.
For the missile's capabilities, refer to the Figure.
Due to the
Yakhont's short flying time (its speed is 2.5 times greater than the speed of sound) and
the long effective range of its seeker head, the targeting of the missile need not be very
The ability to
observe the entire target area from a high altitude, augmented by the enhanced
capabilities of the antiship missile control system, make it possible to cue missiles to
hostile ships in a group and discriminate false targets.
Yakhont's early descent to a low altitude, combined with its supersonic speed and
seaskimming flight mode in the homing phase, make it possible to avoid detection and
tracking of the missile by even the target's most sophisticated air defense systems.
compactness and maintainability on board its platform are not the least important factors
determining its appearance. First of all it can be explained by the missiles's unique
construction unrivaled in terms of the degree of integration of components. Basically, the
entire missile - from the nose air intake to the nozzle exit section - is a propulsion
plant arranged in an airframe. Except for the intake bullet, where the control system and
warhead are arranged, all of the missile's internal spaces, including the ramjet motor air
duct, are filled with sustainer motor propellant and accommodate the built-in
solid-propellant booster stage. The missile is enclosed in a sealed launch-container. The
fact that there is almost no clearance between the missile's fuselage and internal
surfaces of the launch-container indicates that the degree of integration of components is
very high. The missile size provides for a two- or three-fold increase in the number of
the missiles carried on board a platform.
launch-container is an integral part of the missile system. The missile is dispatched from
the manufacturing plant, shipped, stored and delivered to the user in its launch-container
ready for use at all times. The missile's systems check-out is made without removing the
weapon from its launch-container.
The launch-container, with the missile in it, is very simple to operate and maintain. It
requires neither any liquid or gas for maintenance nor specific microclimate for storage
and on board its carrier. All this simplifies operation and maintenance procedures and
enhances the weapon's reliability.
As the missile's basic features encompass the use of a launch-container, a wide range of
launch angles and an advanced firing method which does not require flame deflectors, the
missile can easily be blended into the architecture of various platforms. It should be
noted here that launchers of different designs can be used: very simple rack launchers
intended for installation on low-tonnage vessels of the "guided-missile boat -
corvette" class or vertical-launch modular systems designed for installation on
large-displacement surface ships, i.e. frigates, destroyers and cruisers.
In addition to
the well-known inclined and vertical installation methods applied to submarine- and
ground-based antiship missiles, some innovative basing and launching methods have emerged
for which Yakhont is quite suitable.
We can say with
confidence that no one antiship missile system currently in service elsewhere in the world
possesses such an array of unique technical and operational characteristics as Yakhont.
Taking into account current trends in the development of the navies in the world, this
fact is of paramount importance.
Due to economic reasons, since the early 1990s, most countries have been giving preference
in their naval development plans to the procurement and construction of
consequence, the requirements for combat effectiveness of their weapons systems have
become more exacting and the process of replacing old-generation antiship missiles with
new ones, where the first-generation subsonic missiles will be replaced with supersonic
systems featuring a longer firing range and higher effectiveness, is associated with this
trend and, according to forecasts, is likely to commence at the beginning of the 21st
century. We can affirm that, owing to the unique characteristics of the Yakhont missile,
even light warships armed with it will be able to perform missions that before could only
be handled by large combatants.
Thus, we have
good undertakings for the future and all reason to believe that the Yakhont antiship
missile system will appear on the foreign market. Operators can rely on this system as it
will ensure high operational effectiveness of their warships and security of sea borders.
Basic Characteristics of the Yakhont Antiship
mixed trajectory up to
||2 to 2.5
altitude, final phase, m
||5 to 15
of warhead, kg about
radar seeker head
target detection range
in active mode, km
seeker head search angle, deg.
angle range, deg
||15 to 90
in launch-container about