Ukraine makes major modification on Neptune missiles

Ukraine’s military is revamping its Neptune anti-ship cruise missile system to develop long-range weapons, according to Kyiv’s Deputy Defense Ministry Ivan Havryliuk.

According to a report from ArmyInform, the media outlet for Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), updates to the defense system to develop “the so-called ‘long Neptune'” are currently underway. The Neptune, which was developed just before the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, has previously been credited for Kyiv’s ability to target Moscow’s Black Sea fleet.

“This is a new modification of the missile for the Neptune complex,” Havryliuk told ArmyInform. “Active work is also underway together with the Ministry of Strategic Industries to strengthen the air defense system.”

Reports surfaced in April that the Ukrainian MoD was working to update the weaponry to be able to engage ground targets, according to the Ukrainian outlet The Drive, which cited an anonymous Kyiv military official. The new missiles, which can be launched from the same system, were reported to reach up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) in range and weigh up to 350 kilograms (771 pounds). In comparison, the Neptune anti-ship cruise missiles currently in use reach around 300 kilometers (186 miles) and weigh approximately 150 kilograms (330 pounds.)

Newsweek has reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for more information.

While Kyiv has reclaimed little Russian-occupied territory in nearly six months of fighting since the launch of its counteroffensive, its military has ramped up attacks on Russian infrastructure. According to Forbes, a land-attack version of the Neptune missiles was believed to be used to take out one of Moscow’s S-400 air-defense systems in August.

Kyiv has also successfully damaged the Kerch Strait Bridge and military hubs in the Crimea Peninsula that have played a major role in Russia’s ability to supply their troops engaged in fighting in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Havryliuk added in his interview with ArmyInform that Ukraine was working on “the modernization of the Buk and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems,” but said that further details could not be provided at this time. Business Insider reported last month that Ukrainian and U.S. officials were working together to adapt Soviet-era systems such as the Buk and S-300 to be able to launch American-made missiles.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told Radio NV in mid-November that officials were testing U.S.-provided missiles with an updated Buk system, according to a report from the Kyiv Post.

“We have good results of the combat use of Buk-M1 anti-aircraft missile systems on the training ground in the United States, which have been converted and adapted to American missiles,” Ihnat said.

Ukrainian soldiers work on an anti-aircraft missile system on November 28, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine. Kyiv is updating its Neptune anti-ship cruse missile system to be able to reach long-distance targets.
Kostya Liberov/ Libkos/Getty Images