Anti-ship ballistic missile

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

The ASBM's conventional warhead and kinetic energy may be sufficient to cripple or outright destroy a supercarrier with a single hit. However, unlike a nuclear warhead, this will require a direct hit to be effective. Thus, and unlike a typical ballistic missile, which follows a ballistic flightpath after the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight, an ASBM would require a precise and high-performance terminal guidance system, with in-flight updates or advanced sensors in order to hit its moving target.

Soviet Union

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 project 605 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.



China has inducted the world's first [1] operational anti-ship ballistic missile, a "carrier killer" capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, known as the DF-21D.[2] In 2010, it was reported that China had entered the DF-21D into its early operational stage for deployment.[3]

The DF-26, first revealed in 2015, is also able to carry anti-ship warheads, possibly hypersonic glide vehicles like the WU-14, to attack medium and large naval vessels out to ranges of 3500 km to 5000 km.[4]

China is apparently working on a second generation ASBM using hypersonic glide vehicle technology tested on the WU-14. This would allow the warhead to search for the current location of the carrier, instead of just dropping down to the spot it was first aimed at. The high speed maneuvers would also make the missile much harder to intercept.[5]


Dhanush (Sanskrit: धनुष, "Bow") is a variant of the surface-to-surface or ship-to-ship Prithvi III missile, which has been developed for the Indian Navy.


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.


The United States Navy fields what some experts think to be the best midcourse anti-ballistic defense in the world, and is developing high powered lasers for terminal-defense against anti-ship ballistic missiles.[6] The U.S. arsenal has a variety of potential countermeasures. 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.[7]

See also


  1. Kazianas, Harry (29 September 2013). "No Game Changer, but a Great Complicator: China's DF-21D ASBM". Asia Dialogue.
  2. Talmadge, Eric (5 August 2010). "Chinese missile could shift Pacific power balance". NBC News.
  3. Gertz, Bill (27 December 2010). "China has carrier-killer missile, U.S. admiral says". The Washington Times.
  5. Perrett, Bradley; Sweetman, Bill (January 27, 2014). "U.S. Navy Sees Chinese HGV As Part Of Wider Threat". Penton. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  6. "Chinese Anti-ship Missiles Could Be Countered By U.S Ship Based Lasers." Defense World, 4 July 2012.
  7. Harry Kazianis. "". The Diplomat. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
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