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Russia enhances Oniks missiles with new active homing heads for Increased precision against Ukrainian targets.

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by Tass on March 27, 2024, the Russian Defense Industry has upgraded the supersonic anti-ship Oniks missiles, part of the Bastion coastal defense missile systems, with new active homing heads.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Russian Oniks missile. (Picture source: gagadget)

Originally designed to target naval vessels, the Onyx missiles have been enhanced with active homing heads, enabling them to precisely strike enemy ground facilities. Additionally, efforts are being made to protect the Onyx missiles from Ukrainian electronic warfare countermeasures.

Context of the war in Ukraine

Primarily deployed from the K-300P Bastion-P mobile coastal defense systems, which Russia stationed in Crimea post-2014 annexation, these missiles have been used in attacks against southern coastal cities in Ukraine, including Odesa.

Reports suggest that Ukraine has had some success in jamming or otherwise disrupting the guidance systems of the Oniks missiles, reducing their effectiveness in certain instances.

P-800 Oniks

The P-800 Oniks, also known as SS-N-26 Strobile by NATO, is a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya in Russia. The missile, which can be launched from air, ship, and submarine platforms, is known for its over-the-horizon firing capability, autonomous operation ("fire and forget"), and ability to fly at high supersonic speeds throughout all phases of its flight. It's designed to operate under electronic countermeasures and can execute low-profile sea-skimming trajectories as well as high-low flight paths​​.

The Oniks missile uses a solid rocket booster for initial thrust, transitioning to a self-sustaining ramjet cycle for cruise flight. This missile system is fully harmonized across a wide range of platforms, including surface ships, submarines, and land-based launchers, underscoring its versatility in deployment​​.

Key technical specifications of the P-800 Oniks include a length of 8.9 meters, a diameter of 0.7 meters, and a wingspan of 1.7 meters. It weighs approximately 3,100 kg, can achieve speeds of up to Mach 2.6 at altitude and Mach 2 at the surface.

Its operational range varies between 120 km for low-altitude trajectories to up to 600 km for the Russian ship/submarine deployed non-export model. The missile is equipped with a radar homing head that operates in all weather conditions.

The Oniks missile is operational in several countries, including Russia, Indonesia, Syria, and Vietnam. Its development began in the 1990s, and it entered service in the early 2000s.

There are several variants of the missile, including the P-800 Yakhont (export version), P-800 Bolid (submarine-launched version), and the BrahMos missile, co-developed with India​.

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