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Anti-Ship Missiles: How Ukraine Could Save Odessa from Russia?

Naval Strike Missile. Image: Creative Commons.

Can anti-ship missiles save the day in Odessa? The Russians have numerous warships in the Black Sea spoiling for a fight and the Ukrainians have only tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems, and other artillery to defend the homeland. But is that enough firepower to win a decisive battle? Employing the potent Naval Strike Missile or Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles could better protect a key coastal city like Odessa that is feared to be the target of a future Russian amphibious attack. But is that really practical or even possible?

Has the Russian Attack Against Odessa Already Started?

On March 21, there were reports of a small Russian bombardment against Odessa that might have been conducted by Russian ships. This could be the beginning of more shelling and the Ukrainians would welcome Naval Strike Missiles and Neptunes to counter the threat.

The Naval Strike Missile is a Norwegian-made anti-ship missile that can be ship or shoreline-based. The Poles and Romanians have bought these from Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace. The Neptune is a Ukrainian-made shore-to-ship missile that Kyiv is trying to rush to the battlefield.

Odessa Situation Worsening

Ukraine wants the Naval Strike Missile and Neptune system because the situation in Odessa is looking grim. A small number of Russian shells on Monday hit a residential area in Odessa in an attack that caused a building fire, but no reported casualties. This is the first time Ukraine’s third-largest city has been targeted by the Russians.

Odessa’s one million citizens are backed up by the Ukrainian Army’s 28th Mechanized Brigade. The brigade is finding the most attractive landing sites and placing their tanks and artillery to defend beachheads against the Russians.

The Port Is Critical to Ukraine

Odessa’s port is strategic, and more than 50-percent of Ukraine’s trade goes through it. Reuters reported on March 18 that at least seven Russian ships, including amphibious attack vessels, were 15 miles off the coast of Odessa.

“Due to its importance to the Ukrainian economy, a Russian capture of the port would represent a material and symbolic loss for Ukraine in the conflict,” Anne Debie, an analyst with maritime security company Dryad Global told U.S. News and World Report.

Get the Anti-ship Missiles to Odessa

A Naval Strike Missile, should the Poles and Romanians offer it to the Ukrainians, would be a highly-valued addition to Odessa’s defense. It is about 13-feet long and weighs 880 pounds, including a 276-pound fragmentation warhead. It can fly between 537 and 690 miles per hour low over the water to evade radar. The Naval Strike Missile, with its infrared seeker, can also execute random maneuvers to elude enemy defenses.

The Neptune anti-ship missile could also be the answer for Odessa if it can be prepared fast enough. The Ukrainians planned to have the system in Odessa’s hands by April. April is approaching and there are no reports yet of its deployment on the Black Sea coast. Six launchers with 72-missiles and their radar units are promised for the coastal city. That’s plenty of missiles to take out Russian ships. The Neptune has a high range of 180-miles. It is launched from an 8X8 truck and targeting can be conducted by drones.

Complicated Trade May Not Work

To get the Naval Strike Missile to the Ukrainians, the United States would have to be involved. It would be a complicated deal. The Americans would have to promise a delivery of their own Naval Strike Missiles from Norway to be diverted over to Poland and Romania, while the Poles and Romanians send their existing Naval Strike Missiles to Ukraine – effectively a high-stakes trade. This deal is likely a bridge too far.

Neptunes May Not Be Ready Before the Invasion

The best arrangement is to have the Neptunes be delivered to Odessa as soon as possible. The problem is that crews would have to be trained first. The Ukrainians have to quicken the pace and Russia will be prepping the battlefield and likely targeting neighborhoods with naval bombardment. The Naval Strike Missile and the Neptune system may not arrive fast enough to thwart the Russians.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. yellowstoneuk

    March 21, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Realistic article. Ever since the usa being hesitant about transfer of mig29’s from poland, it’s clear that Biden seems to be making an appearance of providing minimal military aid to ukraine. After the Putin use of the recent hypersonic weapon in Ukraine, it seems obvious that Russia does not hesitate to escalate while Biden still hesitates with low technology mig29’s. Putin started off saying he wanted East European countries to exit from nato.
    If Biden is foolish enough to let Putin conquer ukraine, it’s obvious Putin next military move will be on East European countries currently in nato.

  2. Alex

    March 21, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Odessa is a Russian-speaking city where many Russians and Russian Ukrainians live. Therefore, it will not be so difficult for Russia to clear Odessa of Bandera Nazis. Yes, and it’s time to come to terms with the fact that no one can prevent this, no matter how much the Bandera Nazis and their supporters would not like. The song of these non-humans ends, they must be reunited with their ancestors forever…

  3. Patriotson

    March 21, 2022 at 10:23 pm

    For the US it is always to little to late but of course, we have the evidence that austin and milley cant even conduct a retrograde action (thats a retreat for nonveterans) successfully.

  4. Military Greek

    March 22, 2022 at 4:34 am

    What a poor, ill-informed article. You want us to believe the Ukrainian military, who have been at war for 8 years, have anti-ship missiles and no one is trained to use them. That they have not deployed/stationed these weapons where thay are needed in that 8 year period. Really?

  5. Anatolii B.

    March 22, 2022 at 12:14 pm

    There are only 20 Neptunes produced, it’s not enough.
    So we need more weapon to protect our sites from Russian fascists.
    I think it’s time to give us some western anti-ship and anti-aircraft weapon. It’s easier way, than fight with insane Russian empire on the territory of EU in 2-3 years.

    And nazis – they are in Russia. Russians troops commit heavy war crimes in Ukraine.

  6. Alex

    March 22, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    I am sure that Russia should have destroyed the Bandera Nazis back in 2014. Now there would be no such tragedy. For 8 years, Bandera’s Nazis have been killing people in the Donbass, and the West has promised to help Russia resolve the conflict and implement the Minsk agreements. But they did nothing, absolutely nothing, and did not even cover the crimes of Bandera Nazis in their media. Russia spoke about the red line. Russia was not heard. But the West: it developed the ideology of “true Aryans” and “the insignificance of Russians” (REMINDES NOTHING ???), prepared the Bandera Nazis, taught them the actions of terrorists during the war in cities, supplied them with weapons, etc. You have to pay for everything. Russia is paying for its indecision, the US is paying for the loss of Ukraine, Ukraine is paying with its collapse. That’s all we see now.

  7. Answer to Alex

    March 22, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Hey, Alex! I always thought it was bad to be a Nazi, but if “Bandera Nazi” is what Zelensky and the Ukrainians represent, hey, “Nazi” these days must be a pretty good thing! Russians on the other hand are scary, like the Chinese – kind of zombified by all the mental laundering they go through. About everyone in Europe thinks USA awful and imperialist, EU annoying, and identity politics over the top, but we’d still much rather have NATO and Brussles, some anachronistic muslims and the odd pride parade, than Putin or Xi, surveillance and totalitarianism!

  8. PulSe

    March 22, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    So many Monday morning quarterbacks and keyboard chicken-hawks – who have NO idea what has been going on behind the scenes.

  9. Pelinore

    March 24, 2022 at 7:35 am

    Something this article doesn’t mention is that the very first neptunes and their factories were probably a high-priority target for the Russian cruise missile. I have little hope that the ukrainians have any neptunes remaining, nor the ability to make some during this war. If they had even a few surviving they would already have been deployed and fired.

    Western anti-ship missiles are most likely ukraine’s best hope to deflect the threat on odessa and gain a first major psychological and material victory on russia. In the same way tho, if that hasn’t been done already despite the black sea fleet being a very ehavy threat for a while, I am losing faith in NATO’s willingness to provide such weapons.

  10. ffrogman

    March 24, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    To Alex, how to you feel to be part of Russia’s propaganda troll factory? Do they pay you with rubles or with vodka?

  11. yellowstoneuk

    April 4, 2022 at 10:48 am

    Russia is finished militarily in April 2022, because it’s fatalities and wounded have triggered three Paret o points, each point reducing Russian military efficiency.
    First Paret o point was 20% passed
    Second Paret o point was 4% passed
    Third Paret o point now is 0.8% met.
    The best action the Russian invaders can do is to surrender their arms to the honourable ukraine military and to apologise for infringing the borders of ukraine and to humbly apologise and promise to pay reparations to ukraine for property damage and for the great loss of life to the women and children of ukraine, where in the invaders shelled kindergartens and maternity buildings.

    • LOL

      July 23, 2022 at 8:42 am


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