P-120 Malakhit

The P-120 Malakhit is a Russian medium range anti-ship missile used by corvettes and submarines. Introduced in 1972, it remains in service but has been superseded by the SS-N-22 Sunburn.

The Echo class submarine required the submarine to spend 30 minutes or more on the surface when firing its P-5 Pyatyorka (SS-N-3A 'Shaddock') missiles. This made the submarine very vulnerable to enemy attack, so in 1963 the Soviets started work on a new missile that could be fired whilst submerged, and a submarine to carry it. These became the P-50 Malakhit and Charlie class submarine. The P-50 was replaced by the P-120 design during development.

However, problems in development meant that the twelve Charlie I submarines were built with the shorter-ranged P-70 Ametist (SS-N-7 'Starbright', an evolution of the SS-N-2C 'Styx') as a stopgap before the introduction of the P-120 Malakhit on the Charlie II.

The P-120 missile was later used as the basis for the SS-N-14 Silex rocket-propelled torpedo.

P-120 Malakhit
Class Missile
Type Surface to Surface
Manufacturer NPO Mashinostroyeniya
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1972
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Georgia 2008 2008 View
Russia (USSR) 1972 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
NPO Mashinostroyeniya 1972 View

The L band seeker and radar altimeter originally designed for the 'Siren' were first used on the 'Starbright' whilst the Soviets sorted out the P-120's troublesome engines. However the 'Siren' has space for datalink equipment, allowing mid-course guidance from the launch platform or something else. When fired from a submarine, the missile can be launched at a maximum depth of 50 meters.

The 'Siren' entered service on corvettes of the Soviet Navy on March 17, 1972. It would be installed on Nanuchka-class and Tarantul-class corvettes. About 500 missiles were produced.

It was not until November 1977 that it was accepted for use on submarines. The Charlie-II submarine carried eight missiles (of which two usually carried nuclear warheads) and were intended as a cheap alternative to the one-off Papa class submarine, which carried ten missiles. All have now been retired from service.

It saw action in 2008 in the hands of the Russian Black Sea Fleet during the action off Abkhazia, where it was used successfully against the Georgian Navy.

Type Anti-shipping missile
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
In service 1972–current
Used by Russia
Production history
Designer Zvezda
Manufacturer OKB-52 MAP (later NPO Mashinostroyeniye)
Weight 3,180 kg (7,010 lb)
Length 8.84 m (29.0 ft)
Diameter 76.2 cm (30.0 in)
Warhead HEF-SAP or 200 kt nuclear
Warhead weight total 840 kg (1,850 lb) HE 500 kg/1102 lb
Wingspan 2.1 m (6.9 ft)
Propellant Turbojet, solid fuel
Operational range Sub launched conventional warhead: 70 km nuclear warhead: 110 km

Ship launched conventional warhead 120 km nuclear warhead: 150(160) km
Speed Mach 0.9
Launch platform Nanuchka and Sarancha, Charlie-II and Papa classes

End notes