The Novator Design Bureau developed the Club anti-sub/ship cruise missile system [sometimes referred to as the Klub, Biryuza and Alpha/Alfa]. There is some confusion as to whether the SS-N-27 designation applies to this missile, or to the P-900 Alfa [industrial code 3M-51 ] , although the best evidence suggests that the 3M-54 Alfa is the SS-N-27, rather than the 3M-51 Alfa.
The Club missile system is designed to destroy submarine and surface vessels and also engage static/slow-moving targets, whose co-ordinates are known in advance, even if these targets are protected by active defences and electronic countermeasures.
There are two 'known' modifications of the system; Club-S (for submarines) and Club-N (for surface vessels). The Club-N can be installed in vertical launch cells or in angled missile boxes. Both systems are based on common hardware, the only difference being the design of the missile launchers and missile transport-launching containers.
Five types of missiles - 3M-54E, 3M-54E1, 3M-14E, 91RE1 and 91RE2 - have been developed for the Club ASCM. The Club-S can be armed with a 3M-54E or 3M-54E1 anti-ship missile, 3M-14E submarine-to-coast missile or a 91RE1 anti-submarine torpedo. The Club-N can be armed with a 3M-54E or 3M-54E1 anti-ship missile, 3M-14E submarine-to-coast missile or a 91RE2 anti-submarine torpedo.
The missile is 6.2 meters long, which is the same as the length of the standard torpedo tubes used by Western navies. It is designed according to the double-stage cruise scheme. The first solid-fuel stage ensures the missile's launch from a universal vertical launcher of a surface craft or from a submarine torpedo tube with a diameter of 0.533 meters.
The 3M-54E missile has a range of 300 km. For the majority of its trajectory it flies at a high subsonic speed. The first stage drops off when the missile reaches the prescribed altitude and its second stage sustainer engine goes into action. This is the time when the missile's wing and tail assembly unfold. The altitude of its flight goes down to 10-15 metres above the sea surface and the missile heads towards the target in accordance with the target designations, fed before the start into the memory of its board guidance system. The targeting on the cruise sector of the trajectory is effected by an inertia navigation system. The end sector of the missile's flight with the homing head active proceeds only five metres above the water surface. At 60 km from its target the third, solid-fuel stage separates from the missile, accelerates to supersonic speed and overcomes the defence zone of the target vessel.
In spite of its relatively small launch weight of 1,570 kilograms, the missile has a range of 300 kilometres and a powerful 450-kilogram warhead, which can blow up very large surface craft. The missile's moderate weight allows even warships with a small displacement to take aboard quite a few of such deadly weapons.
India is making substantial purchases of the Novator 3M-54 Alfa missile to equip Kilo class submarines and its new frigates. The first two Indian 877YeKM submarines (Kilo class, according to NATO classification) will be armed with the latest Russian 3M-54E antiship cruise missiles. These missiles will also be fitted onto three frigates which are being built to order for the Indian navy at the Baltic shipyard in St Petersburg. Each of the frigates will carry eight antiship missiles which will be launched from vertical launch containers on the bow of the ship.
It is believed that an air-launched variant will be purchased to arm the Tu-142s currently in service and the six to eight additional aircraft being sought by the Navy. If an air-launched version of the Alfa is procured, it is anticipated that India's Tu-22M3s will eventually be equipped to fire them.
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