October 20, 2015

Russia selling land attack Klub Missiles to India, Kilo sub upgrade

A submarine launched land attack Klub ("Sizzler") cruise missile. Note that the more accurate designation for such a Klub is 3M-14E Klub S - DOD designation SS-N-30B. Basic length 6.2 m, 450 kg warhead. Range 300km. Russia is also selling SLCM land attack Klubs to Vietnam for use by Vietnamese Kilos.

INS Sindhukesari is to be the first Indian Kilo sub to receive the land attack Klub upgrade. (Photo courtesy Indian Navy via IDRW-Org)


Following Russia’s October 8, 2015 demonstration that it can operate land attack cruise missiles over long distances a Russian upgrade to some of India’s Type 877 (older version) EKM (export model) Kilo submarines is interesting.

India's 9 working Kilos are known as the Sindhughosh class. They have had anti-ship capable Klub (NATO name is "Sizzler") missiles for several years. Now the Klubs on 4 Kilos will be augmented by or replaced by land attack capable Klubs.

The Indian Navy is signing the $771 million contract with Russia to extend the service life of the 4  to 35 years. Thirty years is the international average. The contract is with Russian shipbuilder Zvezdochka and will be sending the first submarine, INS Sindhukesari, for the refit in Severodvinsk Russia, in June 2016. Once INS Sindhukesari is refitted the Indian Navy will decide whether to upgrade the remaining 3 Kilos in India or again in Russia. If in India the 3 Kilos will be refitted with Zvezdochka’s assistance by India’s Reliance Defence and Aerospace company at the Pipavav shipyard in Gujarat.

The Russian Navy has done this 'second refit' to its own Kilo fleet.


1.  It is interesting that just 4 Kilos are to be refitted instead of all 9 servicable Kilos. This is noting the 10th INS Sindhurakshak suffered a catastrophic explosion/fire in August 2013 and is probably a write-off. First to be refitted, INS Sindhukesari, is one of the most recent 4 servicable Indian Sindhughosh class Kilos built. If modernity is the criteria then the other three to be upgraded might be INS Sindhukirti then INS Sindhuvijay, then INS Sindhurashtra.

2.  It is interesting how the land attack Klub program interplays with other Indian SLCM programs including BrahMos (300 km range) and Nirbhay (1,000 km) programs. Any of these SLCMs could be made nuclear tipped. Nuclear tipped Klubs may be a response to the possibility of nuclear tipped Pakistani SLCMs.

3,  If the land attack Klubs were nuclear tipped how would they relate to K-15 (700-1,000 km) shorter range SLBM plans?

4.  Under MTCR land attack Klubs would officially be limited to 300 km range but given Russia’s recent 2,000 km range Kalibr demonstration a longer range Klub may be India's more quiet wish.

5.  It is unclear with this October 2015 refitting plan cancels or is in addition to a July 2015 Indian Kilo refitting plan.



jbmoore said...

Well, we know the Russians have an ordnance issue when the Kursk sank and exploded when it hit bottom. The INS Sindhurakshak sank at berth after an ordnance explosion. I have no doubt that the Russians make excellent cruise missiles, but I wonder what propellants they are using to extend their ranges and how volatile are said propellants. The cruise missiles are capable of supersonic sprints close to target so it is crucial to kill them before they go supersonic. But, if moving them is as dangerous as firing them, perhaps they won't be used much. Things are getting interesting in your part of the world. Hopefully, peace will reign, but who knows.

Peter Coates said...

Hi jb

As well as too many torpedo fuel explosions the Russian Navy suffers from serious fires caused by routine welding and grinding http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/near-catastrophic-russian-nuclear.html Fires and nuclear missiles, still on board, don't go well together.

Unlike rare fires in Western subs Putin's authoritarian state can hush up less obvious Russian fires.

India and Russia have been working on the BrahMos missile (with a supersonic end run) for years but it may be that the steadily improved Klub may be taking over from any future BrahMos for submarine.



Common Sense said...


India has been using the Klub for around 15 years or so (first inducted on the INS Sindhusashtra in 2000). The Indian government has sanctioned development of two Brahmos derivatives: a hypersonic weapon and a "smaller" diameter weapon better suited for launch from 533 mm torpedo tubes and more aircraft (Rafale or Mig-29K). So it's highly unlikely that India will be turning to the Klub. I really don't think the Klub has been "steadily" improved: rather the Russians focused on the Kalibr as a separate programme while the vanilla Klubs were exported.


Peter Coates said...

Hi Common Sense

Yes I believe India's existing submarine launched Klubs have only been for anti-shipping. So the future Klubs for land attack will be a new capability. Kalibr or not submarine Klubs for land attack seem a notable new capability - both for India and Vietnam.

The hypersonic BrahMos II seems a long term project because like several other hypersonic (atmospheric) missile projects round the world there are major physical challenges including air resistence (making for short range and heat buildup) and propulsion mix problems (ramjet or scramjet?).

Given BrahMos has been a project since 2001 or earlier https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BrahMos_(missile)#Development and some say it is just a short range (MTCR compliant) Yakhont I suspect it is Indian money transfer to Russia project. In return for the very, very long term BrahMos program I would say Russia is helping India with the Agni ballistic missile program and adding greater certainty to India's nuclear weapon program.

India may claim that its nuclear program is totally indigenous but that would be a world first. Every nuclear weapon state, including the US, France and China had extensive international help.