Espreso. Global

Russian Oniks missiles: what are they

25 September, 2023 Monday
14:22

Russian forces continue their attacks on Ukraine, employing various weaponry, including the Oniks anti-ship missiles. Learn about the Oniks missiles' technical details and why they're being used in the recent strikes on Odesa

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As of the publication of this article, Russia's nighttime attack on Odesa resulted in two deaths. On September 25, the Russian Federation launched Shahed drones, Kalibr missiles, and supersonic Oniks anti-ship missiles toward Ukraine.

What is the Oniks missile?

The Oniks is a supersonic anti-ship missile of Russian origin. These missiles are launched from the Bastion missile system, stationed in occupied Crimea. They were initially developed in the late 1970s in the Soviet Union for use on submarines, surface ships, boats, aircraft, and shore-based launchers.

Surprisingly, despite its intended use against ships, the Oniks are mainly being used to hit land targets.

Technical specifications

  • Length (ship version): 8 meters
  • Length (aviation version): 6.1 meters
  • Starting mass: 3,000 kilograms
  • Wingspan: 1.7 meters
  • Maximum speed: 884 meters per second
  • Altitude range: 450-500 kilometers
  • Flight height (cruise): Up to 14,000 meters
  • Flight height (final section): Up to 10 meters
  • Target detection range: Over 50 kilometers
  • Time to readiness: More than 2 minutes

The Oniks missile's warhead can vary but is typically around 200-250 kilograms. 

The export name of the missile is Yakhont. Currently, Russia, Vietnam, Syria, and India have these missiles, with Indonesia receiving them in 2010.

Why Odesa is a target

Russian forces are using Oniks missiles in attacks on Odesa due to their limited range, up to 600 kilometers, depending on launch altitude. These anti-ship missiles are also capable of hitting coastal targets, making them suitable for Odesa's proximity to the coast. Using Oniks missiles allows the Russians to conserve other missiles designed for land targets, such as Kalibr or Kh-type missiles.

Can Oniks missiles be intercepted?

Intercepting Oniks missiles is challenging because they fly at low altitudes, making them difficult to detect. The Patriot air defense system and the French SAMP/T anti-missile defense system are among the few defenses with a chance of success.

Where Oniks missiles have been used

The Russian military has previously used Oniks missiles in attacks on Odesa and its surrounding areas.

  • April 30, 2022: The Odesa airport was targeted from Crimea, causing a fire and damage.
  • May 2, 2022: Odesa was again hit, resulting in a fire, damage to a church, and a tragic loss of life.
  • May 9, 2022: The Odesa region was struck, with missiles hitting critical infrastructure.
  • July 19-20, 2023: Odesa suffered multiple attacks, causing extensive damage to the port and residential areas, and loss of life.
  • September 23, 2023: Rockets struck a recreational area in Odesa, causing minimal damage.
  • September 25, 2023: Two more Oniks missiles targeted Odesa, hitting port infrastructure.
     
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