New Russian weapon system hides missiles in shipping container

Published 28 April 2010

In what defense analysts describe as a “game changer,” a Russian defense manufacturer is marketing a weapon-in-a-box system for about $15 million; the system consists of four cruise missile inside a normal shipping cargo container that may be carried on a cargo ship; when required, the container’s roof opens, allowing the operator the launch the missile; the system gives any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier

Last October we reported that Israel had stolen a march on the United States in the matter of multipack unmanned cruise missile-in-a-box packages. The Israeli Aircraft Industry (IAI) announced in late September that its Jumper robotic missile pack was ready for sale, while the rival U.S. Netfires system is still in development (“Israeli Company Shows Unmanned Smart-Missile Pack,” 24 October 2009 HSNW).

The idea behind this ready-to-use, weapon-in-a-box is simple. A large box contains several vertically launched missiles and its own communications and power. It is generally light enough to be driven about by a Humvee or a similar vehicle, parachuted down from a transport plane, dropped off by helicopter, tied down on the deck of a ship or barge, etc. It needs no crew in operation.

Once the box is in place, it awaits orders. A soldier far off, or an aircraft or UAV, can mark a target using map coordinates— and light it up with a laser pointer for extra precision if required. As soon as firing authority is given— by a remote command post, or by the commander on the ground — a missile is launched out of the box and flies to the designated coordinates using GPS satellite navigation and inertial navigation. On arrival, it descends from the sky and strikes as precisely as a smart bomb — even hitting moving targets if laser pointing is available.

The ready-to-use, weapon-in-a-box solves many problems. Keeping aircraft overhead — even unmanned ones— costs a lot of money and ties up a lot of people. Having a battery of guns or normal bombardment rockets to hand is even worse: more people, on the ground this time, and the ammo and fuel have to be shipped all the way into the field.
With systems like Jumper or the American Netfires/Non Line of Sight Launch System (NLOS-LS), there may not be a need for mortar platoons, artillery regiments, and strike air nearly so much. With soldiers packing a targeting laser able to knock out tanks, there may not be a need for too many combat soldiers, either.

Now it appears that Russia has entered the ready-to-use, weapon-in-a-box market. Reuters reports from Moscow that a Russian company is marketing a new cruise missile system which can be hidden inside a shipping container, potentially giving any merchant vessel the capability to wipe out an aircraft carrier. The Club-K was put on the market at the