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Russian Navy strengthens its coastal missile brigades with BAL and BASTION systems

The Russian Navy launched a large-scale campaign to reinforce coastal missile brigades. Due to the creation of new missile squadrons and rearming with Bastion and Bal launchers the brigades will be able both of defending the coast and destroying ground objects. The units are armed with the latest reconnaissance drones for completely automatic target search. Experts believe the reinforced brigades will create a defense line along the Russian coast which will be bar all adversary warships, the Izvestia daily reported.

Russia Pacific Fleet BAL coastal missile systemFile Picture: 3K60 BAL (NATO reporting name: SS-C-6 Sennight) Coastal Missile System of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet Coastal Troops seen during its first test launch in Primorye territory.

The main Navy command said the fleet would annually receive four sets of mobile coastal Bal and Bastion launchers in 2017-2020. Outdated Redut and Rubezh weapons will be decommissioned in the same period. At present all Russian fleets have Bal and Bastion launchers. All coastal artillery and missile forces will be fully rearmed by 2021. Besides, new squadrons are being formed and coastal missile regiments developed into full-fledged brigades.

Massive supplies of the new weapons began in 2015. The 72nd separate coastal missile brigade of the Pacific fleet was one of the first to receive them. In November 2016, a Bastion battery was deployed on Iturup Island and a Bal battery on Kunashir. A coast guard division is likely to be formed in Chukotka in 2018.

The 27th coastal brigade is deployed in Kaliningrad region on the Baltic Sea. The emergence of the new launchers in the region, specifically the Bastion, caused major concern of neighboring NATO members.

In 2016, two sets of Bastion were supplied to the 536th brigade of the Northern fleet deployed on the Kola Peninsula followed by Bal in the autumn of the same year. New missile squadrons are likely to be deployed on the islands of the Arctic Ocean.

Russia Pacific Fleet Fires First Bastion Missile System 23K55 Bastion coastal defense mobile anti-ship missile systems (NATO reporting name: SSC-5 Stooge) of the Russian Pacific Fleet’s missile and artillery brigade. File Picture: Russian Pacific Fleet press service

The Black Sea fleet has two coastal missile brigades. One of them defends Crimea and Sevastopol and the other - Krasnodar region and the naval base in Novorossiisk. In the autumn of 2016, a squadron of Bastions was redeployed from Crimea to Syria to strike at ground objects of terrorists. The 15th coastal missile brigade, which is being formed, is likely to be deployed near Anapa in the near future and comprise at least two squadrons of Bastions.

Expert Dmitry Boltenkov said the capabilities of the coastal defense would grow several-fold in the near future. "Initially, a standard coastal brigade comprised one Rubezh and one Redut squadrons. The weapons are being decommissioned and replaced by Bastions and Bals. They are supplied to the troops in much bigger numbers than one-to-one ratio. For example, the 520th brigade in Kamchatka already has two Bastion squadrons and is waiting for several other ones," he said.

The reinforced brigades will have three-five Bastion and one-two Bal squadrons. "They can deliver a massive strike with Onix missiles of the Bastion complex at warships of potential adversary and definitely break through any naval air defense. The remaining warships which will come close to our coast will be destroyed by Uran missiles of the Bal complex. If necessary, missiles can be fired at ground targets or to support marines on the littoral theater of warfare," the expert said.

Coastal missile brigades have to control territorial waters and straits, defend naval bases and other coastal facilities. The Bastion has a firing range of up to 500 km and is an operational and tactical weapon. It fires Onix supersonic missiles to destroy convoys, landing and aircraft carrying groups. Bal is a tactical complex armed with subsonic Kh-35 missiles with a range of up to 130 km. Its main mission is to defend the coast at potentially dangerous landing directions, the Izvestia said.

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