MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles that Kiev has received for what Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov claims to be coastal defense pose a serious threat to Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and its shores, Head of the Bureau of Military and Political Analysis Alexander Mikhailov told TASS on Thursday.
"The Harpoon missile is quite a dangerous weapon, even though these missiles are not new, are subsonic and fly at a speed of Mach 0.85. Harpoon anti-ship missile systems based on the coast of the Black Sea can be a cause of our concern because they are capable under certain circumstances of breaching even well-organized air and anti-missile defenses. A simultaneous strike by several missiles of this type can lead to the loss of ships. To my mind, this already means crossing red lines," the expert said.
Measures must be taken to prevent a scenario, in which the Russian infrastructure and the Navy can be threatened by launchers armed with Harpoon missiles capable of striking targets at a distance of 280 km, he pointed out.
Harpoon as a direct threat and a provocation
As the expert pointed out, "Harpoon missile systems can target Russian naval ships and civilian vessels operating in the Black and Azov Seas."
"This is already a direct threat to the Crimean Bridge and the peninsula’s residents. This is yet another signal that the country’s territories close to the Black Sea coastline must be promptly taken under control," Mikhailov added.
By supplying Harpoons to Ukraine, NATO countries are trying to deal a blow on the Russian Navy, thus provoking Russia to strike decision-making centers in Kiev and Lvov, the expert said.
The RGM-84 Harpoon cruise missile is standardized and fits into various NATO launchers, including Mk 41 vertical launching systems, the expert specified.
"At the same time, the operational range of the supplied missiles is yet unclear. The missile’s first versions flew to 40-50 km. The latest versions have a strike range of 280 km," he said.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov said earlier on Thursday that the costal defense line had been bolstered by "highly efficient Harpoon complexes." US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in late May that Denmark planned to supply a launcher and Harpoon missiles to Kiev.