Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Russia sends ship-killer missiles to Syria

Russia, a key backer of the beleaguered regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, is reported to have delivered supersonic Yakhont SS-N-26 anti-ship cruise missiles to Damascus despite calls for a U.N. arms embargo on the regime.

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified military source in Moscow as saying the 2007 contract, which reportedly involved at least two coastal-defense Bastion anti-ship systems with 72 Yakhonts, "was completely fulfilled, almost ahead of time."

The contract is worth an estimated $300 million.

Interfax noted that "this weapon allows coverage of the entire coastline of Syria from possible attacks from the sea."

It isn't known when the delivery was made. But Syria's acquisition of the Yakhont, which Russia calls the P-800, has caused considerable alarm in Israel.

The SS-N-26, with a range of 190 miles and a maximum speed of 1,900 miles an hour, carries a warhead of 440 pounds of high explosive, enough to sink a large warship.

The weapon's nearest U.S. counterparts, Raytheon's BGM-109 Tomahawk and Boeing's AGM-84 Harpoon, are subsonic. The best French equivalent, MBDA's MM-40 Exocet, only has a range of 45 miles.