The Kursk submarine still has 22 “Granit” – SSN19 (NATO classification – “Shipwreck”) secret, supersonic long-range cruise missiles for strikes against surface forces on board.
It is precisely for this reason that Russian naval ships are on round-the-clock patrol duty in the area of the stricken Kursk. The coordinates for the center of patrol area are 37 degrees 35 minutes E. longitude, 69 degrees 40 minutes N. latitude. The Kursk lies at this spot at a depth of about 100 meters.
Strana.Ru has learned from Navy Central Command that there was a change of patrol ships at the site of the accident a few days ago. The heavy cruiser Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) has replaced the large anti-submarine ship Admiral Kharlamov.
The Mashinostroyeniye Company built the submarine’s main weapon – the “Shipwreck” long-range, supersonic missile. The missile is considered a top-secret weapon.
Naval ships of the “Antei” class (project 949A) appeared back in the times of the Soviet Navy, Mashinostroyeniye General Director Gerbert Yefremov explained to our correspondent. Such ships were designed to counterbalance American aircraft carrier forces and all groups of striking ships at sea.
The idea of a so-called “asymmetrical” response materialized at the beginning of the 1980s. Essentially, the idea was based on creating a powerful group of nuclear-powered strike submarines armed with long-range supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles. The Granit missile was built at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. The project was carried out by the Reutovo branch of Mashinostroyeniye under Academician Vladimir Chelomeyev.
The “Shipwreck” can be fired both from surface vessels and submarines. It has a range of over 500 kilometers. Its firing weight is 7 tons and it has a length of 10 meters. Its velocity is 2.5 mach (2,800 km/hr). The Granit is capable of carrying different types of warheads.
However, it is not only the excellent flight characteristics of the missile and the homing device's countermeasures that enable the “Shipwreck” to preserve its unique combat capabilities, Yefremov points out.
The missile’s chief merit is its unique guidance system. It is based on “artificially intelligent” electronic systems that enable the missile to strike a single vessel, according to the “one ship – one missile” principle. The missile itself selects and classifies the targets by their “importance.” It chooses the tactic of attack and plans how it is to be carried out. The missile’s onboard computer is loaded with data on modern classes of ships to exclude errors in choosing its maneuvers to hit the selected target.
The missile’s computer also holds purely tactical data, for instance, on the type of ship formation. This data enables it to identify what lies ahead – a convoy, an aircraft group or a landing assault force – and to attack the main targets. The onboard computer also holds data for countering the enemy’s radio jamming signals, as well as tactical means for escaping air fire.
After the missiles are launched in a volley, the designers explain, they decide by themselves which one will attack which target, and what kind of maneuvers must be carried out in accordance with mathematical algorithms in the behavior program.
The missile also has capabilities for outwitting attacking missile-interceptors. After the main target in the group of ships is knocked out, the remaining missiles attack other ships in the formation, excluding the possibility of one and the same target being hit by two missiles.
Last year (1999), the Kursk was on a patrol mission in the Mediterranean. And as the story was told at Russia's chief naval headquarters, the US 6th Fleet Command was compelled to dispatch everything it could to track down the Kursk, but they came up with nothing.
Finally, a huge circle 500 km. in diameter was drawn on the maps and US naval ships were strictly forbidden to enter this circle. By its presence alone, the Kursk paralyzed the whole US fleet, and compelled it to think about its security.
"There is every reason to suppose that the US Navy will not pass up a chance to get its hands on any information about our missile for creating a defense system against it,” Yefremov points out. “And here, there is no need to nurse any illusions about various international treaties, or laws of ethics.”
But even if such a system appears, Granit will still remain a most powerful weapon against any well-defended adversary. Even if a missile interceptor hits, Granit will be able to retain its initial velocity because of its huge mass and speed. As a result, it can reach its target. The impact of such a strike will be such that even without its warhead, the missile will be able to snap a destroyer-class vessel in half.
Today, Mashinostroyeniye is working on a program to support Granit’s high combat efficiency throughout its entire service life. This concerns both its flight characteristics and its “intellectual” capabilities. All this work does not require large investments, and this means that the Russian Navy will still have decisive “arguments” in any sea battle.
The technical capabilities that have already been put into Granit form the basis for the concept of building a new type of anti-ship missile, the “Yakhont.”