German Navy First Firing of a RBS15 Mk3 at Land Target

The Navy fired RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missiles at a land target for the first time on May 18 in Norway.

The heavy guided missile has been in service with the German naval forces since 2008, together with its weapon platform, the class 130 corvettes. In previous missile launches, ships had only fired the RBS15 at targets at sea.

The corvette “Oldenburg” provided evidence that “the Navy is now able to use a precision distance weapon against targets relatively far behind the coast”, as the Test Director of the Missile Firing Exercise 2022, Frigate Commander Nikolaus Hey, explains. “This step now officially enables the corvettes to attack targets from the sea in a wide strip of land.”

The maneuverable corvettes with their relatively shallow draft are better suited than any other ship in the Navy for such operations in the offshore operations area, i.e. in shallow and narrow waters. The “Oldenburg” demonstrated this in this shooting by driving deep into the northern Norwegian fjords to launch the missiles. From a well concealed position she fired the RBS15.

The RBS15 Mk3 belongs to the class of heavy anti-ship missiles, defined by the comparatively large weight of its warhead. It can use it to destroy targets on land, such as stationary military infrastructure, but it can also be used against mobile missile launch vehicles, for example, if their exact position is known. As a rule, the target data does not come from the corvettes’ own sensors, but rather from various third-party sources.

“The entire flight route required the guided missiles to take various, extremely demanding routes, both over sea and over land,” explains Hey. The route made good use of the RBS15’s range of more than 200 kilometers, the missiles hit several snags on their route and changed their flight altitude again and again. This basically serves to hide the exact launch site, and thus the position of the corvette, from a possible opponent.

“The missile did exactly what it was supposed to do, what it was designed for,” says the first officer on watch on the “Oldenburg”, Lieutenant Till Niemann, who was satisfied with the entire shooting process. The strictly prescribed detailed procedure of the launch was not new to the crew of the ship, since the procedure was in principle the same as for a target at sea.

While not in a specific battle scenario, the crew had gone to battle stations to fire the RBS15. On the one hand, this serves to ensure the safety of the ship and crew in the event of an accident, and on the other hand, the realistic use of the weapon system. For Niemann, the Missile Firing Exercise was a success. “We were not only able to train our crew and prove the efficiency of our corvettes,” he says, “but we also bring this experience to the 1st Corvette Squadron and thus to the entire Navy.”

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