TechRussia's Ch-32 missiles to get cluster munition upgrade, raising accuracy and humanitarian concerns

Russia's Ch‑32 missiles to get cluster munition upgrade, raising accuracy and humanitarian concerns

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1:06 PM EST, January 4, 2024

As Defense Express has noted, fitting the Ch-32 missiles with cluster munitions might be an effort to address issues with the missile's target accuracy. The Ch-32 is essentially an anti-ship missile with active radar-guided warheads, designed to strike large, reflective targets, such as ships. The problem, however, arises when attempting to hit land targets. The shooter can't be certain of the missile's precise impact and the potential extent of the damage. By installing cluster munitions, the notoriously inaccurate Ch-32 is made more effective as its coverage expands with numerous sub-munitions.

According to documents referenced by Defense Express, the Russian Ministry of Defense ordered the modernization of the Ch-32 missiles with a cluster system as early as October 2023. It remains uncertain when the project will be completed and when the first Ch-32 missile equipped with cluster munitions will be launched by the Russians.

Clusters munitions, which have long been a subject of debates among humanitarian organizations, pose a significant risk. Human Rights Watch even calls for a ban on their use. The operation of cluster munitions involves the release of submunitions or sub-ammo towards the end of the missile's flight, scattering over large areas as small bombs or mines. This poses a threat to civilians, given the risk of unexploded ordnance and the potential for a submunition to inadvertently drift into a non-combat area.

Regarding the Ch-32 missiles, the Russians announced last year plans to upgrade all existing Tu-22M3 bombers to make them compatible with carrying these missiles. The Ch-32 missiles, which have been in service since 2016, can achieve a maximum speed of approximately Mach 4.6. They can reach a target up to about 621 miles away from the launch site and are resistant to electronic warfare systems, including signal jamming.

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