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An anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is a military ballistic missile system designed to hit a warship at sea.

Due to the often hypersonic flight speed of ballistic missiles, the ASBM's kinetic energy alone may be sufficient to cripple or outright destroy a supercarrier with a single conventional warhead impact. However, unlike a nuclear warhead, this will require a direct hit to be effective, thus unlike a typical ballistic missile, which follows a ballistic flight path after the relatively brief initial phase of powered flight, an ASBM would require a precise and high-performance terminal guidance system, with advanced sensors and in-flight calibrations in order to successfully hit a moving target.[1][2]

Soviet Union

Main article: R-27K (NATO SS-NX-13)

The 4K18 was a Soviet Union intermediate-range ballistic anti-ship missile (also known as R-27K, where "K" stands for Korabelnaya which means "ship-related") NATO SS-NX-13. Initial submarine testing began on 9 December 1972 on board the K-102, a Golf-class submarine. Test firings were carried out between 11 September and 4 December 1973. Following the initial trials, the K-102 continued making trial launches with both the R-27 and the R-27K, until it was accepted for service on 15 August 1975.

Using external targeting data, the R-27K/SS-NX-13 would have been launched underwater to a range of between 350-400 nm (650–740 km), covering a "footprint" of 27 nm (50 km). The Maneuvering Re-Entry vehicle (MaRV) would then home in on the target with a CEP of 400 yards (370 m). Warhead yield was between 0.5-1 Mt.

The R-27K / SS-NX-13 was the world's first Anti Ship Ballistic Missile. However it never became operational, since every launch tube used for the R-27K counted as a strategic missile in the SALT agreement, and they were considered more important.


Main article: Kh-47M2 Kinzhal


Main articles: DF-26, DF-21D, DF-16, DF-17, CM-401, M20B, and BP-12B

China has inducted the world's first [3] operational anti-ship ballistic missile, a "carrier killer" capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear warheads, known as the DF-21D.[4] In 2010, it was reported that China had entered the DF-21D into its early operational stage for deployment.[5]

The DF-26, first revealed on the 2015 Victory Day Parade, is also able to carry anti-ship warheads, possibly hypersonic glide vehicles like the DF-ZF, to attack medium and large naval vessels out to ranges of 3,500–5,000 kilometres (2,200–3,100 mi).[6]

China is apparently working on a second-generation ASBM using hypersonic maneuverable reentry vehicle technology tested on the DF-ZF. This would allow the warhead to search for the current location of the carrier, instead of just dropping towards the predicted spot it was initially aiming at. The high speed maneuvers would also make the missile much harder to intercept.[7]


Main articles: Dhanush (missile) and Agni-P

Indian navy currently has ship launched Dhanush ballistic missile in use for anti-ship roles. It has a range of 750 km (470 mi) capable of anti-ship operations.[8] Another missile Agni-P, a technology spin off variant of Agni-IV and Agni-V has been speculated to be capable of undertaking ASBM roles or predecessor of a carrier-killer missile currently under development.[9]


Main article: Persian Gulf (missile)

In February 2011, Iran demonstrated a short-range anti-ship ballistic missile named Persian Gulf or Khalij Fars, a missile based on the Fateh-110 which successfully hit a stationary target vessel. It has been reported as a short ranged ballistic missile with a range of 250–300 km. Iran also reports successful test of the Emad missile to target aircraft carriers at a range of more than 1,000km .


Main article: OTR-21 Tochka

On 24 March 2022, during Russo-Ukrainian War, it was reported that a Tochka missile hit an Alligator-class landing ship in the Port of Berdiansk. Two other landing ships were also damaged in the strike and one could be seen leaving the port slowly. [10] [11]


Main article: Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System

The United States Navy fields what some experts think to be the best, on paper;[citation needed] midcourse anti-ballistic defense in the world, and is developing high powered lasers for terminal-defense against anti-ship ballistic missiles.[12] The U.S. arsenal has a variety of potential countermeasures.[citation needed] According to a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation, Roger Cliff, an anti-ship ballistic missile is not useful without additional complex ship detection, data processing and communication systems, all of which, including the missile itself, could be jammed or spoofed, though the USN has never demonstrated such an ability.[13]

See also


  1. ^ "CM-401 anti-ship ballistic missile". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved October 22, 2021. The CM-401 is guided by a radar seeker that can track surface ships or use synthetic aperture (SAR) to image the ground to attack ground facilities such as ports
  2. ^ Globaldefencenews (4 October 2020). "Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Air-Launched Ballistic Hypersonic Missile Of Russia". Global Defence News. Retrieved 22 October 2021. Latest Russian air-to-ground missiles are pretty accurate due to the use of modern guidance systems with satellite navigation capability.
  3. ^ Kazianas, Harry (29 September 2013). "No Game Changer, but a Great Complicator: China's DF-21D ASBM". Asia Dialogue.
  4. ^ Talmadge, Eric (5 August 2010). "Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance". NBC News.
  5. ^ Gertz, Bill (27 December 2010). "China has carrier-killer missile, U.S. admiral says". The Washington Times.
  6. ^ "Janes | Latest defence and security news".
  7. ^ Perrett, Bradley; Sweetman, Bill (January 27, 2014). "U.S. Navy Sees Chinese HGV As Part Of Wider Threat". Penton. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  8. ^ "India tests Prithvi missile's naval version Dhanush". IBN Live. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  9. ^ "Agni P (Prime): India's ASBM in the Making and its Impact on Naval Warfare". Indian Defence Research Wing. 2021-06-29. Retrieved 2021-06-30 – via ELE Times.
  10. ^ @CovertShores (24 March 2022). "***UPDATE***#Russian ammunition explosions this morning in #Berdyansk, geolocated to 46.749590°, 36.773788° Rop…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  11. ^ "Troops blocking Sumy and Kharkiv - as it happened". 25 March 2022.
  12. ^ "Chinese Anti-ship Missiles Could Be Countered By U.S Ship Based Lasers". Defense World. 4 July 2012. Archived from the original on 21 February 2013.
  13. ^ Harry Kazianis. "". The Diplomat. Retrieved 24 July 2012.