Russia is pushing back against reports that several of its SS-N-30A land attack cruise missiles (LACM) failed over Iran during a 26 missile launch from the Caspian Sea to targets in Western Syria, according to Kremlin controlled media.
According to a Thursday reports from CNN and Defense News, four of the SS-N-30As — also called Kalibr NK or 3M-14T — fell over Iran and may have hurt or killed civilians. Both Russia and Iran have denied the reports.
“Unlike CNN, we don’t report quoting anonymous sources, but we show launches of our missiles and the targets they hit in real-time mode,” Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, according to state-controlled Sputnik.
“No matter how unpleasant and unexpected it is for our colleagues in the Pentagon and Langley, our strike yesterday with precision-guided weapons at ISIS infrastructure in Syria hit its targets.”
Likewise, the Iranian Defense Ministry has denied claims from anonymous Pentagon sources that the weapons failed over Iran chalking up the reports to western, “psychological warfare.”
Given the likely flight profile of the SS-N-30As — through Iran and Iraq — Iranian officials at least had some warning of the strike and most likely deconflicted their airspace to make way for the missiles.
In response, Russia has posted some videos of the targets allegedly struck by the missiles, but time and location information on the videos were not included.
Russian officials have proved to be less than reliable in their claims surrounding their involvement in Syria. For example, initially the Russian Navy claimed e deployment of elements of the Black Sea fleet to the Eastern Mediterranean had nothing to do with the Syrian conflict, when in fact the ships were sortied to create an air defense bubble around Russian forces in eastern Syria.
Wednesday’s more than 900 mile missile strike — originating from four Russian combatants in the Caspian Sea — was an unexpected show of military technology acumen and occurred without any warning to the U.S. led collation conducting airstrikes over Syria.
All at once the Caspian Sea strike showed both the ability of some of its platforms to conduct long range land attack strikes like the U.S. and the limitations of its older ships.
The Black Sea surface action group off of Syria’s west coast was much closer to the targets but do not have the capability to launch the same level of LACMs.
While Russia claims the all the targets were Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the State Department said this week that 90 percent of Russian targets were not related to ISIS.