Story by Xavier Vavasseur with additional reporting by Tayfun Ozberk
This was claimed by Commander Valeriy Zaluzhny (Armed Forces of Ukraine – AFU Commander) in a message on several social media (including VK and Twitter)
The missiles were reportedly launched by assets of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.
The commander stated that the missiles were detected at the Ukrainian border on February 10, 2023, at 10.18 am (local time), and entered Romanian airspace at 10.33 am. He also claimed that the missiles were coming from the Black Sea.
The move may be Russia’s “answer” to Ukraine’s President trip to the UK, France and EU earlier this week. Russian missiles entering NATO airspace is a big deal and may be a sign of escalation. However, Romania’s account of the situation is different, according to a statement issued this morning.
While the Romanian Ministry of Defense did observe a launch from the sea, it claims that the missile remained 35 km from the Romanian-Ukrainian border:
“The aerial surveillance system of the Romanian Air Force detected on Friday, February 10, an aerial target launched from the Black Sea from a ship of the Russian Federation, near the Crimean Peninsula, most likely a cruise missile, which evolved in the airspace of Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and re-entered the Ukrainian airspace without intersecting, at any time, the airspace of Romania.
The closest point of the target’s trajectory to Romania’s airspace was recorded by the radar systems approximately 35 kilometers North-East of the border.”
Romania’s Ministry of Defense
In addition, at 10:38, two MiG-21 Lancer aircraft of the Romanian Air Force from under NATO command, which were at that time on an exercise flight, were redirected to the North of Romania. “After about two minutes the situation was clarified and the two aircraft resumed their original mission”.
Kalibr cruise missile
Kalibr is the primary land-attack cruise missile (LACM) of the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s assets, which have been launching these missiles in order to support Russian Army’s land operations. The Black Sea Fleet vessels able to launch the LACM are:
- Six Project 636.3 (Improved Kilo-class) submarines, but two are currently not in the Black Sea.
- Four Project 21631 Buyan-M class corvettes
- Three Project 11356 (Admiral Grigorovich-class) frigates, but one (Grigorovich) is in Tartus, while another one (Makarov) is probably damaged following the drone attack on Sevastopol naval base.
In addition, according to OSINT sources, a Grigorovich-class frigate was spotted operating outside Sevastopol this morning. Therefore a likely culprit for the launch of the Kalibr LACM is Admiral Essen, the second ship-in-class.
Kalibr S-14 (NATO reporting name SS-N-27 Sizzler) was developed by Novator Design Bureau in Yekaterinburg from Granat S-10 complex. It was for the first time demonstrated to the public in 1993.
Granat was designed as a response to US Tomahawk. The design began in 1976. Granat 3M-10 was developed in 1983 into Alpha 3M-51 cruise missile that had an additional stage for fire from torpedo launchers. In 1993, a mockup of the missile was demonstrated at an arms show in Abu Dhabi and at MAKS-93.
After 1991, the designers focused on Club export option. It could be launched from submarines (Club-S) and warships (Club-N). The first 3M-54 was developed from Alpha and kept the main design. 3M-14 was developed from Granat. The range of the export option comprised 275-300 kilometers.
The Russian Navy uses 3M-54 and 3M-15 missiles for Kalibr-NK complex of surface warships with universal 3S14 launchers and Kalibr-PL for submarine torpedo launchers. The first complex was delivered with the Dagestan small missile ship of project 11661 in 2012. Various sources said its range varied from 1400 to 2600 km.
Kalibr was developed into ground, airborne, seaborne and underwater complexes, as well as an export option. It is operated by Russia, India, and China.