Daring Operation Sees Ukraine Disarm A Billion-Dollar Russian Defense System

The military counter-intelligence service of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) partnered with the Ukrainian Navy to incapacitate the Russian Triumf air defense system near Yevpatoria.

by Faruk Imamovic
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Daring Operation Sees Ukraine Disarm A Billion-Dollar Russian Defense System
© Getty Images News/Andrew Burton

The military counter-intelligence service of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) partnered with the Ukrainian Navy to incapacitate the Russian Triumf air defense system near Yevpatoria. This highly sophisticated system, with a staggering price tag of 1.2 billion US dollars, fell victim to a meticulously planned operation involving drones and state-of-the-art Neptun missiles.

Precision Strikes Lead to System Collapse

The first phase of the operation saw the SSU deploying drones to target the defense system's most vital components: its radar and antennas, colloquially known as its "eyes". With these effectively blinded, Navy forces swiftly followed up, launching two Neptune cruise missiles to strike the S300/400 Triumf launch system.

Quoting the SSU leader, Vasyl Maliuk, Ukrainian Pravda reported, "The explosions now haunt and will continue to haunt Russians." True to his words, the echoes of the mission were felt the following morning. On September 14, occupied Yevpatoria in Crimea reverberated with explosions, prompting the Russian Ministry of Defense to declare a drone attack on Crimea.

They also reported an attempt to target the Black Sea Fleet patrol ship, Sergei Kotov, using unmanned surface vessels (USVs).

Neptun: Ukraine's Homegrown Powerhouse

But what's the story behind the Neptun missiles that played such a pivotal role in this mission? A product of Ukrainian engineering, the Neptun is an anti-ship missile system.

While it finds its lineage in the Soviet Kh-305 missile, significant enhancements have been made to its range and electronic systems. Introduced to the world in 2013, the Neptun underwent rigorous testing in 2016. By March 2021, it had been incorporated into the Ukrainian Navy's arsenal.

This missile, weighing in at about 870 kilograms, packs a punch with a 150-kilogram warhead. Its impressive range of 280 kilometers allows for strategic strikes, making it a formidable asset in naval warfare. With a focus on targeting warships and transport vessels up to 5,000 tons, the Neptun missile system underscores Ukraine's dedication to bolstering its defense capabilities.

This operation, while successful, underscores the volatile nature of the region and serves as a testament to the evolving dynamics of modern warfare, where unmanned vehicles and precision strikes can level the playing field, even against adversaries with deep pockets.

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