As the war in Ukraine rapidly approaches its second anniversary, the Russian forces sprung another surprise as they used a massive cold-war era P-35 anti-ship missile for the first time to attack ground-based targets inside Ukraine.
On January 18, photos of the wreckage of the missile were published on social media by open-source intelligence and weapon tracking accounts that have been closely following the Ukraine war. It was not officially confirmed whether the wreckage was of the P-35, and various claims started swirling almost immediately.
Shortly after the photographs emerged, unverified reports claimed that the missiles were fired from Crimea. Moreover, some reports claimed that a Ukrainian air defense system took down the rocket without giving more specific information about where the missile wreckage was found.
The massive missile, which is known as SSC-1B Sepal by NATO, was reportedly used in the latest strike as Moscow continues its onslaught against Kyiv. The use of this missile, which was produced in the 1960s, has once again revealed a pattern where Russian troops are increasingly deploying archaic weaponry against Kyiv.
Last year, Russia started deploying its archaic Cold War-era T-54 and T-55 Main Battle Tanks after incurring unprecedented tank losses. However, the use of the P-35, which is an ancient gigantic missile, has led observers to highlight how the military has been repurposing missiles to strike targets.
For the first time Russia fired a P-35 anti-ship missile at Ukraine 🇺🇦 from a ground launcher in Crimea
P-35 missiles entered service in 1962, they weigh 4 tons, and have a speed of 1.6 Mach. It was fired at a ground target in Southern Ukraine but got shot down (Defense Express) pic.twitter.com/Te3CKJ4Ppu
— Ukraine Battle Map (@ukraine_map) January 18, 2024
The deployment of this missile also triggered speculations that Russia was either running out of its sophisticated missiles to strike targets inside Ukraine or saving the good ones for attacks against high-value and fortified targets.
The use of these ancient missiles, however, precedes the invasion, with some reports noting that they had been deployed in Crimea several months before Vladimir Putin’s so-called special military operation.
A netizen said on Platform X, “Interesting, means Russia is trying to prove they’re not running out of missiles by continuously repurposing surface-to-air and anti-ship missiles for ground attack. Crude, only useful for civilian target terror strikes (but sadly gives a decently large magazine for such).”
BURN RATE: As RU runs low on precision strike munitions, antique weapons, like the Soviet P-35 anti-ship missile are increasingly pressed into service. Designed in 1962, weighing 4 tons, and capable of Mach 1.6, this P-35 was shot down by UKR air defenses. Bump @ukraine_map. https://t.co/QxzRqIcFny pic.twitter.com/iHX2tHsRCK
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) January 18, 2024
Military commentator, conflict correspondent, and former SEAL Team 6 Squadron Leader wrote on the platform, “BURN RATE: As RU runs low on precision strike munitions, antique weapons, like the Soviet P-35 anti-ship missile, are increasingly pressed into service. Designed in 1962, weighing 4 tons, and capable of Mach 1.6, this P-35 was shot down by UKR air defenses.”
The P-35 has recognizable wings, and photos validate its deployment—possibly from the “Redut” coastal missile complex, according to other military analysts who noted that the missile was likely aimed at targets in the southern region.
EurAsian Times could not independently verify the different claims that became a talking point on social media after the photos went viral online.
The development comes when the conflict has entered a precarious stage. Bombarded by Russia’s relentless missile and shelling, Ukraine has also dealt severe blows to Moscow in recent days.
A Ukrainian security services source recently told the media that Ukraine launched an attack on an oil facility in western Russia, where four oil reservoirs totaling 6,000 cubic meters (212,000 cubic feet) caught fire.
These attacks have often been met with swift retaliation by Russian forces. The use of the P-35 anti-ship missile assumes significance as it has given the impression that the attacks and aerial strikes will not cease any time soon.
The P-35 Anti-Ship Missile Is A Giant
With a range between 300-400 kilometers, the P-35B anti-ship missile was first deployed for coastal defense in the early 1960s. With two solid-fuel rocket boosters for launch, the P-35B is propelled by a turbojet engine and measures about 33 feet long. Its weight is roughly 4.6 tons.
An early version of the missile was launched for the first time in 1959, and surface ships began using the missile system in 1964. Later, as a component of the Utes and Redut coastal stationary and mobile missile systems, the most recent version of the P-35B was also put into service.
As part of the static coastal-defense anti-ship missile system known as Utes, these missiles were still being utilized as of late 2020 to defend the vital port of Sevastopol, according to several reports published during the time.
These missiles are part of a more prominent family, the P-5, first developed in the 1950s at the Chelomey Design Bureau. NATO referred to these liquid-fueled missiles as the SS-N-3 Shaddock.
Eventually, they were deployed for several purposes, such as tactical anti-shipping and strategic attacks. They were employed to arm both mobile and stationary coastal defense systems and warships and submarines.
The system was first equipped with subsonic Sopka anti-ship missiles when it went online in 1957. These were later replaced by supersonic P-35B and, later, 3M44, which had a more extended range and an option to integrate a nuclear payload in place of the conventional warhead used by the P-35.
Russia still uses the P-35 as a component of the coastal missile system known as “Redut” despite its advanced age. Russia was believed to have eight launchers for this system as of 2021.
However, uncertainty surrounds the truck-based Redut’s present situation with the Russian Armed Forces. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) only reported that “some” instances were still in use in a 2022 review.
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