Russia is overhauling its navy by expanding deployment of non-nuclear cruise missiles that can hit targets at land and sea by employing supersonic speed and evasive maneuvers, a U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence analysis concluded. The military buildup could "present continuing challenges to U.S. and allied naval forces," the intelligence report noted.
The KALIBR-class missiles that will be installed on vessels such as corvettes, or small warships, are “profoundly changing its ability to deter, threaten or destroy adversary targets,” the U.S. agency, known as ONI, said in a report posted on its website. “With the use of the land attack missile, all platforms have a significant ability to hold distant fixed ground targets at risk using conventional warheads.”
Russia's navy is already known for having the world's quietest submarines. The missiles have ranges of as much as 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles), Bloomberg reported Thursday. “Placing a priority on strategic deterrence and defense, Russia’s recapitalization of its submarine forces began with its strategic ballistic missile submarines,” ONI said. “Construction of general-purpose nuclear and non-nuclear submarines was second in importance.”
The U.S. has taken steps to keep up with Russia's military makeover. Congress' 2015 spending plan includes funding for the Navy to upgrade its ability to detect Russian submarines. The Navy is also exploring the use of an “undersea sensor system” that “addresses emergent real-world threats,” a Defense Department budget document showed.
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have grown increasingly tense in recent years as both sides have worked to bolster global influence in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In September, Russia began conducting airstrikes in Syria, prompting outrage from the U.S. over "indiscriminate attacks" that reportedly have injured or killed hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 100,000 residents. "We've seen a marked and troubling increase in reports of these civilian casualties since Russia commenced its air campaign," a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said this week.