Russia’s TASS news agency reported on Thursday, March 28 that it intends to upgrade the Oniks missile with new active homing devices, which it says will allow Moscow’s military to take on Ukrainian ground targets with greater precision, according to a source in Russia’s defense industry.

The P-800 Oniks supersonic anti-ship cruise missile (NATO: SS-N-26 Strobile) was designed in the 1980s, developed by NPO Mashinostroyeniya and the Reutov-based Tactical Missiles Corporation in the 1990s before being accepted into service in 2002. Russian forces have used the missile to attack ground targets both during its war with Ukraine and on operations in Syria.

TASS also cited a different source who said that “simultaneously, work was underway to make Oniks missiles invulnerable to Ukrainian electronic warfare equipment.”

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It is a ramjet-powered missile with a maximum range of 600 – 800 kilometers (370 -500 miles), depending on the version used, at a speed of around Mach 2.5 (3,000 kph or nearly 2,000 mph). It has a large 300-kilogram (660-pound) semi-armor piercing high explosive warhead and is steered to its target using a combined inertial guidance and active radar homing-passive radar seeker head.

It was originally designed to attack enemy shipping, fired by naval ships, aircraft, or the K-300P Bastion-P (NATO: SS-C-5 Stooge) mobile coastal defense missile system.

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In May 2022 Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it had used a number of Oniks missiles to attack what it claimed was Ukrainian military equipment near Odesa.

Since then they have been fired against Black Sea grain storage and as part of a 19 missile attack on the Odesa region, that killed three and injured 19, and damaged over 40 buildings including the city’s Transfiguration Cathedral on July 23, 2023.

This new upgrade will capitalize on the work that Russia and India have been cooperating on for several years to produce a modernized version of Oniks known as BrahMos. This is for a contract worth around $2.4 billion for the delivery of 220 ship-launched missiles.

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Kyiv Post has been unable to independently verify the TASS report at the time of writing.

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