The soviet-era anti-ship missile system still hasn’t lost lustre and secures the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea. Recently, video footage of Utes coastal-defense anti-ship missile system was posted online on October 14, 2020, by TV Zvezda, the official television channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The supplementary report accessed by The Drive said that the missile firing exercise was conducted after Kavkaz-2020, a multinational military exercise hosted by Moscow which took place in late September.
The report reveals that the joint missile exercise took place on the Russian Navy’s frigate Admiral Grigorovich, the lead ship of its class, and Sevastopol’s Utes battery.
It further stated that a 3M44 Progress anti-ship missile was launched from the Utes battery and was then successfully intercepted by the frigate’s air defence systems from a distance of more than 6.2 miles.
It demonstrates the Progress missile leaving from the right-side of the twin-tube launcher and then disappearing back into the bunker, secured by metal doors.
The Navy range secured the water of Sevastopol where the exercise took place. During the exercise, more than ten warships and other vessels from the Black Sea fleet patrolled the area restricting any trespassers.
According to a Russian account that reveals the historic importance of Utes, meaning Cliff, claimed as the world’s first coastal underground anti-ship missile system installed in the high in the mountains near Balaklava.
Balaklava, code-named ‘Object 100’, had two identical underground complexes and launch sites located 6 km apart from each other. The military builders were led by the chief engineer of the Black Sea Fleet’s construction department, Colonel A. Gelovani, the future deputy minister of defence, Marshal of the Engineering Troops, noted the Russian account.
After the completion of Object 100 in 1956, it was commissioned in service in the following year as Soviet Navy’s first coastal missile unit. In 1961, it was decided to rearm the Utes system with P-35B missile, which was also used in a road-mobile coastal defence system, the Redut, replacing the Sopka missiles.
The Utes complex went online in April 1973 and also involved the installation of a new radar, identification-friend-or-foe system, as well as an updated control centre, launchers, and various new ground equipment, noted The Drive.
“The liquid-fueled P-35B missiles could be prepared below ground with their wings folded, before being raised to their firing position by elevating the launchers. These would then return below ground for reloading,” said the report.
In 1982, third-generation missiles 3M44 “Progress” was introduced in the complex. Due to the large firing range, the battery of the Utes complex with external target designation could cover the coastline several hundred kilometers in length. A powerful high-explosive or nuclear warhead (350 kt) makes it possible to disable a ship of any class with one missile.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Soviet Black Sea Fleet was divided between Russia and Ukraine and Object 100 was transferred to Ukraine. However, Ukraine didn’t put the system in service.
After the occupation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the Utes was installed again in service. Reportedly, Moscow is deploying modern coastal defences including K-300P Bastion-P mobile system through the Black Sea Fleet.
It uses a ramjet engine and can reach a maximum speed of 2.5 Mach. Moreover, due to its ability to receive targeting data from various sources, including unmanned aerial vehicles, it is much more difficult to target than the Utes.