Ukraine’s navy to acquire US ‘ship killer’ missiles
The long-standing and burning questions of whether the United States is going to provide Ukraine with anti-ship missiles and what kind of weapons could those be are finally getting a clear affirmative response.
It is confirmed now that U.S.-produced patrol boats Mark VI expected to be produced for Ukraine’s navy will be equipped with short-range missiles ВGM-176В Griffin, as well as with all necessary control and homing guidance systems.
In an Aug. 5 statement by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry’s official media outlet ArmyInform, the military said that the American missiles featuring the range of engagement of up to 20 kilometers would be capable of destroying small hostile vessels.
“If operated properly, these missiles can be a threat to much larger warships such as corvettes and frigates,” the message reads.
“Of course they can’t sink an aircraft carrier or a cruiser, but they can inflict very real damage and cause casualties. As the experience of naval warfare shows, there’s no need to seek a vessel’s complete sinking in order to put it out of action. Just one missile targeting the ship’s main control center might get the job done.”
The decision has been discussed in the U.S. for some time, with the Congress in 2019 suggesting that Ukraine is provided with additional lethal aid in terms of coastal defense systems and anti-ship missiles, without mentioning certain examples of U.S.-produced hardware.
ВGM-176В Griffin is a naval, ship-mounted version of AGM-176 high-precision missile developed by Raytheon. It is operated solely by the U.S. military since 2008, so Ukraine is likely to become the weapon’s second operator.
The military also said the Griffin missiles would not be a substitute to the much-praised project of Ukrainian-produced cruise missile systems RK-360MC Neptune, which were developed in the short term by Kyiv-based design bureau Luch and are currently expected to be accepted for service in 2021.
“There’s no way the American missiles ВGM-176В Griffin can become a rival to domestically-produced Neptunes since they claim very different domains of use in action. They have different performance capabilities and intended purposes.”
“The Griffin missiles are going to defend littoral waters while the Neptune’s operational range is 280 kilometers, the aquatic areas of the Azov and Black seas, including Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone.”
The U.S. cleared the sale of 16 patrol boats Mark VI, as well as other equipment, to Ukraine as part of a $600 million contract. So far it is known that Kyiv is expected to pay for the contract with its own money, although some amount will be covered by the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Military Financing program.
According to American officials, the sale would help Ukraine’s navy, which is severely outnumbered and outgunned by Russian naval power in the region, “to sustain river and littoral water patrols throughout Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone.”