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Meet the Neptune: Ukraine’s Homemade Cruise Missile That Struck the Moskva

Neptune Anti-Ship Missile
Neptune Anti-Ship Missile. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Neptune anti-ship missile, explained: The battering of the Russian military in Ukraine continues. The latest victim seems to be the Russian Navy missile cruiser Moskva, which was hit by Ukrainian Neptune anti-ship missiles on Wednesday night.

The Moskva Incident 

The Russian Ministry of Defense claims that there was an ammunition explosion on the ship that damaged it badly. The Ukrainians, however, claim that, in fact, it was their Neptune anti-ship missiles that struck the Moskva and that it had sunk.

As of Thursday morning, the fate of the vessel is unknown, with conflicting reports coming out of both sides. What is a fact, however, is that the Moskva is damaged badly.

A Slava-Class missile cruiser and the flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva packs quite a punch. The cruiser is designed to take out U.S. aircraft carriers, and it has 16 supersonic anti-ship missiles (SS-N-12 Sandbox) to do so.

Although the fact that it doesn’t carry land-attack cruise missiles diminishes its utility against an opponent with very limited naval capabilities, the Moskva has potent anti-aircraft area defense capabilities because it carries 64 S-300F Rif air defense missiles.

At almost 11,500 tons, the Moskva is a big ship, and it would take a very well-aimed Neptune anti-ship missile to take it out. However, the fact that it has its own missile launch tubes lying on the side of the vessel makes it vulnerable to an enemy strike.

If the Moskva has indeed been sunk, it will amount to the most significant naval action since the British submarine HMS Conqueror sank the Argentinian cruiser ARA General Belgrano in the Falklands War in 1982.

Neptune Anti-Ship Missile 

The Neptune is based on the Soviet-era Zvezda Kh-35 anti-ship missile, but it comes with improved electronics, a larger body, and a vastly better operational range.

The Neptune anti-ship missile was developed by the Luch design bureau. It uses R-360 anti-ship cruise missile. First announced in 2013, the anti-ship missile completed its first operational tests three years later. In 2019, the Ukrainian military completed the development of the Neptune and ordered the first batches.

At over 5 meters, the Neptune carries a 320-pound High Explosive Fragmentation (HE-FRAG) warhead that can sink vessels up to 5,000 tonnes, for example, destroyers and frigates. The fact that it might have sunk the Moskva means that the Ukrainians either fired more than missiles or that it struck a magazine.

The Neptune anti-ship missile uses an internal navigation system to home on its target and will fly 10-15 meters above the water on its way to the target but will drop to 3-10 meters on its final approach so as to counter any ship defenses.

The Neptune anti-ship missile has a reported range of almost 175 miles, and it can be fired from land, air, and water. Before the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian military was planning on purchasing up to 90 launcher vehicles with Neptune missiles, but the Russian attack has put that plan on hold. Before the invasion, the Ukrainians had an estimated 20 launchers.

1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Alex

    April 14, 2022 at 11:17 am

    And now the facts:
    1. If this is true, then this proves the power of Soviet weapons, because Neptune missiles are not the best modernization of the Soviet Kh-35 missile.
    2. At the moment, the cruiser is afloat, the fire has been extinguished, the sailors are alive – this is already good.
    3. Video from Ukraine about the sinking of a ship by missiles – this is just a Norwegian exercise in 2013.
    Conclusion: Ukrainian fakes don’t work again. Sadness…

  2. Chris Snyder

    April 14, 2022 at 11:54 am

    to Alex,
    Russia said the ship is evacuated after suffering an ammo explosion. They say all sailors are okay, while other sources say maybe half died/were injured (I’d think ‘some’ died if ammo exploded, so can’t believe Russia at all.. got to realize their statement will be on state TV news).
    Time will tell. Main point is the Moskva is out of commission for now. I didn’t know it had no sea-to-land cruise missiles, which makes me wonder WHAT is shooting them at Ukrainian cities and targets (fuel depots, ammo warehouses, etc), but wherever they come from needs to be neutralized.

  3. Vladolph Putler

    April 14, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    Probably good to remember that Soviet weapons does not equal Russian weapons. Ukrainians built a LOT of Soviet weapons. Russia tends to try and ride on fallen Soviet glory. Ukraine has made its *own* glory, while expanding on its Soviet history. Ukraine casts its OWN shadow.

    Alexbot’s attempt to diminish this fact is weak at best. Especially considering Russians just lost a ship to missiles they clearly should have had plans to deal with. The Neptun system development has been publicly known for almost a decade.

    Russia is burning through all its precision long range fires hitting mostly civilians and paper targets. We see what the Ukrainians are hitting.

  4. Illurion

    April 14, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    Dear Alex:

    The Russian Kremlin has now finally announced that the Flagship of the Russian Black sea Fleet, the Moskva, has sunk to the bottom of the Black Sea.

    Russia is still stating that “all the crew” were evacuated, and deny that Ukraine sank the ship with Anti-Ship missiles.

    However, not much that the Kremlin states is actually believable these days. So, expect to eventually hear that very many Russian sailors died when those two missiles hit the Moskva.

    When the Iraqi Air Force attacked the USS Stark in 1987 with one French Exocet missile, it left 37 dead, and 21 wounded Sailors.

    When the USS Cole was bombed by Iranian Terrorists in 2000, it left 17 dead, and 39 wounded.

    Both of those ships were hit by missiles or bombs that were not nearly as powerful as the TWO MISSILES that hit the Moskva.

    There is NO WAY, that there are no dead Russian Sailors on the Moskva.

    In regard to your point about the Ukrainian anti-ship missiles being “inferior” to current Russian missiles, i believe your point is irrelevant, as, inferior they MAY BE, BUT THEY WERE “SUPERIOR ENOUGH TO SINK THE MOSKVA.”

    If the Ukrainians can sink the Russian Flagship, they can sink “ALL RUSSIANN SHIPS.”

  5. Ed H.

    April 14, 2022 at 7:35 pm

    The Moskva was not sunk. It was promoted from cruiser to submarine.

  6. Wvhogue

    April 14, 2022 at 7:45 pm

    This is total BS. Look at the hole in the ship
    There are no jagged edges around it…no burn marks.
    And where was the damage control team.
    And it looks like they have no Condition Zebra

    What poor seamanship

  7. eric

    April 14, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    To Alex… as per today’s Russian news release, the Moskva has indeed been sunk along with 100+ of her ship’s company. I’m sure many more assets will follow in her wake.

    Conclusion:Russian BS is shown to be what is is. just more of Putin’s lies.

    So sad… too bad.

  8. speedster

    April 14, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    The Neptune anti ship missile has sunk the best Russian ship in the black sea. This has tremendous repercussion for the continued existence of the Russian fleet in the black sea. This is not to mention the donated western anti ship missiles which should become available to ukraine shortly.
    Quite simply, the Russian ships will require to vacate the black sea or be in danger of being sunk by this most accurate of Ukrainian missiles. I don’t know if the Turks will lift the straights blockade to allow the Russian ships to escape certain destruction.

  9. greenman

    April 14, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    Ships invariably suffer casualties when missiles strike. It’s common sense that if a missile has enough destructive power to potentially sunk a ship, then human flesh will not fare well in that destructive environment.
    The articles regarding the destruction on the ship, imply that the Russian navy, do not want to give credit to ukraine for the destruction. This falls within the Putin special operation, where news of casualties and setbacks in Ukraine are kept on a very low level. Remember it’s not a war according to Russian propaganda.

  10. Billy

    April 15, 2022 at 1:13 am

    Seems Alex went down with the Moskova

  11. GARRY O JACKSON

    April 15, 2022 at 4:44 am

    It looks like the red fleet continues to the standard of the Russian Navy of the Sino Russian war. The Japs Tore them a new one and Ukraine is doing the same now. Lets face it the Russians Just don’t do well at sea.

  12. Alex

    April 15, 2022 at 4:45 pm

    Moscow was not sunk by the Neptunes. And the Ukrainian trident. The Pentagon did not confirm the missile strike, which means only one thing – there were no missiles. Most likely a mine or old wiring. The cruiser Moscow was never upgraded before decommissioning.
    The author wants a sensation so much that he does not even think about the fact that the worst blow to the reputation of a journalist is to publish unverified information. The joy of the Bandera Nazis is understandable: when a jackal bites a lion before dying, it seems to him that he is also a lion. When the jackal sees in the distance that the lion has slipped, he also rejoices. But seeing the grin of a lion in front of him, the jackal (Bandera Nazi) is asking for his life and flies into the hellish cauldron for eternity.

  13. John G

    April 15, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Alex: “The Pentagon did not confirm the missile strike”

    Ooops… the missile strike was just confirmed by the Pentagon. The rest of your post is pure jingoism, worthy of Soviet-era Pravda articles.

    My suggestion: Don’t bother. You have absolutely no credibility.

  14. Robert O'Leary

    April 16, 2022 at 4:20 am

    Neutron bombs, missile warheads, and neutron artillery shells will be used by Russian forces. Size of kill zone can be from 100m diameter circle to 1km or more depending on target. Within that circle all life ends but structures, equipment and vehicles not effected and usable. No residual radiation, no nuclear drift to effect NATO nations. Almost 100% guaranteed to end war faster with less loss of life for both sides. But does Putin have the guts to ok use?

  15. Bertram

    April 16, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    Sasha, Sasha, Sasha
    Old boy…I’m afraid that even Moscow has now acknowledged that denying the sinking of the cruiser is ridiculous, and only exacerbates their credibility problem.
    While it is true that Soviet/Russian weapons are inferior and based on out of date designs, when used against other Soviet/Russian targets, can be quite effective.

    The sinking of the Black Sea flagship and killing of its Captain is a huge black eye to Russia, which has suffered more black eyes than normal anatomy would typically allow.

    The Russian invasion of Ukraine is beginning to resemble Mussolini’s invasion of Greece. The Italian army performed quite well against the spear wielding natives in Ethiopia, so they assumed they would perform just as wekk against the Greeks, but it was not to be. Ultimately Mussolini and his fascists were only saved from abject humiliation by their ally Hitler who stepped in and took over.

    But who is Putin’s Hitler? Certainly not Lukashenko.
    The Chinese are secretly exuberant about a Russia that is being humiliated militarily (China shares a long border with Russia which is disputed in many places and a weaker and chastened Russia is not a bad thing for them) even while they play the game of offering half hearted indifference to the entire situation.

    Putin does not have a fascist ally he can call on to bail him out, and every day things get worse. Time is a commodity he is rapidly running out of. Even now, declaring a half hearted victory over Ukraine on Victory Day will be seen for what it really is. A failure to achieve even the modest goals they initially set out for, and a fig leaf to try to cover their humiliation. And the west will be free to rearm Ukraine so it can take up the mantle that Putin gave it, as implacable enemies of Russia and Russian expansion into Europe.

    Ukraine does not have to join NATO to become a permanent thorn in Russia’s underbelly once Putin cuts and runs.

  16. Alex

    April 16, 2022 at 9:17 pm

    The need for NATO disappeared with the demise of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact. However, having promised not to expand to the east, NATO constantly crept slowly to the very borders of Russia. And now NATO is literally on Russia’s doorstep. I wonder how many people were killed by NATO’s defensive alliance in the countries of the former Yugoslavia? Not giving a damn about all the permissions needed for this operation. In how many countries has NATO killed everyone in a row under the pretext of fighting “bad” regimes? Who gave NATO the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries? We know who are the crazy killers from Washington and the crowned individuals of London.

    The loss of the cruiser for Moscow is not as painful as the sinking of the only Ukrainian flagship Sagaidachny. Of course, the Bandera Nazis can talk as much as they want about their missiles, only two missiles of just this configuration are extremely few and not enough. Well, okay, those who suffer huge losses are not forbidden to dream.

    The entire urban area of ​​Mariupol was cleared of militants.
    The remnants of the Ukrainian group are currently completely blocked on the territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant.
    in Mariupol at the time of its encirclement on March 11, there were the 36th separate brigade of the marines, the 109th brigade of territorial defense, the 503rd separate battalion of the marines, a company of the 53rd separate mechanized brigade, units of the 17th anti-tank brigade, Nazi formations ” Azov, Aidar, Right Sector, police and state border service units, as well as foreign mercenaries.
    The total number of this group was about 8 thousand 100 people.
    Of these, about 4,000 have already been destroyed, 1,464 people have surrendered.

    But the main thing is that thanks to independent journalists from the USA, Germany, China and other countries, people see the truth. The whole world sees how the inhabitants of Mariupol, with tears in their eyes, embrace their liberators and thank them for saving them from the Bandera Nazis. These are great videos.

  17. DDearborn

    April 17, 2022 at 11:40 am

    Hmmm

    Regardless of the actual effectiveness of the “Neptune” there can be no doubt that it was NOT designed and manufactured in the Ukraine. First, the Ukraine as the 2nd poorest country in Europe simply did not have the money to develop, let alone manufacture and field such a sophisticated weapons system. 2nd, the Ukraine has never had the needed intellectual, let alone manufacturing infrastructure necessary to create such a weapons system.

    Consider that if such a weapons system did not need relatively large sums of money and infrastructure to develop, build and field every 2-bit dictator on the planet would have some now wouldn’t they…

    Whatever the actual source of this surface-to-surface anti-ship system may be, it was NOT the Ukraine. If I were to make an educated guess, I suspect it was supplied by a secret skunkworks inside israel, given their vast expertise false flags using foreign weapons (remember israel using remarked US and captured Egyptian jets to attack the USS Liberty). Naturally, israel wouldn’t actually pay for these themselves, so no doubt the original source of funding was the US taxpayer…

    Please bear in mind that literally within the first hour of Putin’s Police Action that USA Today published the first piece of fake news when it categorically stated THERE ARE NO US BIO-WEAPONS LABS IN THE Ukraine when in point of fact there were literally dozens…

  18. Bertram

    April 17, 2022 at 11:56 am

    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah

    Far too over the top old buy. You need at least a little subtlety.
    Do you really believe anyone at all believes a word of what you are writing? Or does it even matter as long as you get paid.

    That was always the problem in Russia. In an authoritarian system, people operated according to the diktats of others up the line, and the challenge for the Kommissars was to craft diktats that were both measurable and effective. They could never keep up with the ability of those working under an unchanging order, to find loopholes.

    A factory ordered to produce 20,000 pairs of shoes, would realize they could produce more if they only produced the left shoe and packed two of them in each box, earning them a reward for exceeding the quota.

    In your unenviable job of defending the indefensible, you do not have truth on your side so you lie. But as the conditions become worse on the ground, the lies become more outlandish to compensate. The rhetoric becomes more over the top to emulate enthusiasm. But as a result, it begins to resemble parody.

    So when you get paid by the post, or by the word, you care less about what is in it and only about throwing it up there with the necessary loaded terms to satisfy an algorithm, but an algorithm does not measure persuasiveness or believability, or effectiveness.

    I’ve been to St Petersburg. Beautiful city. Received a private tour of the palace. Certainly there are other ways to make a living there. Better ways to use your talents.

    Tell me, your last paragraph. Did you steal the concept from a book? It is very familiar.

    “He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark moustache. O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast! Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.”

  19. Alex

    April 17, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    The juvenile Bandera Nazi is again hysterical. Take Xanox and sleep at night motherfucker 🙂

  20. Eric

    April 17, 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Alex, every accusation you make is a confession. You accuse Ukrainian people of being fascist, but it is Russia who is invading another country and it is Russia who destroys independent media inside Russia who speak the truth about this war. We know you are a Russian fascist troll that is peddling the Kremlin lies to justify the war crimes against innocent people. There is a special place in hell for people like you.

  21. Illurion

    April 18, 2022 at 1:38 pm

    Alex is the Russian version of Japan’s “TOKYO ROSE.”

    In case Alex hasn’t seen them yet, here is a link to an Israeli website article showing videos and pictures of the Moskva after the missile attack, and shortly before it sank.

    They clearly show the ship took huge missile hits to the port side, just at water level.

    As for the short video of the crew, with no sound, and no indication as to when it was taken, i am awaiting more “verifiable” information on crew losses. Until then, as far as i am concerned, there is no evidence anyone survived the sinking of the Moskva.

  22. Alex

    April 20, 2022 at 11:52 pm

    I previously wrote that there is an option where Neptune missiles could be aimed at the target using the American Orion satellite. Whether this is so is not known for certain, these are just the assumptions of one military analyst from the United States.
    Of course, we all understand that the Bandera Nazis want this to be true. Of course, we all understand that this is beneficial to the Pentagon for the information war. This article was not written only lazy. However, all these articles have only one thing in common: assumptions, desires, fantasies and propaganda. Facts are zero.

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