For many years the Russian naval forces are using the Club cruise missiles on their ships and submarines. It was and still is one of the most feared weapons by the naval forces of the NATO countries, but today, it became their nightmare.
After years of service on the regular launching platforms, the new variant of Club missile system has been packed into classic shipping containers and the new star was born. The four missiles in one container represent a force to be counted as it is capable to wreak havoc amongst the enemy ships.
Of course, this modification named the Club-K is somewhat different to the regular military issue used in the Russian coastal and naval units but it is still potent enough to raise concerns with the possible attackers.
The entire Club-K system contains of four missiles (versions 3M54KE, 3M54KE1, Kh35UE for naval targets and 3M14KE and Kh35UE for land targets), a fire control system, combat management, communications and navigation system, and a life support/power supply system. It is all packed in a standard shipping container so it is absolutely impossible to detect its deployment until it starts preparing for launch.
The operational range of up to 300 km gives a Club-K the ability to attack the targets well out of the visual range and to provide the accuracy, it can use any type of guidance available to the user. So, the radar stations, satellite link or anything that is at the disposal can be interlinked with the system to provide guidance.
During the flight the missiles skim on top of the water/land on the height usually not higher than 5 m which makes them almost impossible to intercept. The ability to make sharp turns provides the additional protection against the air-defense fire but the final stage of the slight is what makes this missile a true nightmare for the opponents. Namely, in the final stage of the flight, the missile jumps into the supersonic mode (around Mach 2.9) and that prevents the ship air defense systems like Phalanx to effectively intercept it.
To make things even worse for the attacker, the system can avoid the radar radiation, making the turn around the radar stations and it usually uses the multi-vector attack tactics. This means that the single target is attacked with several missiles, all approaching at the same moment from the different sides.
The same stands for the land targets and the same tactics are used in those cases, but the warhead of the missiles used for land attacks is heavier and it has the shorter range. Still, it is just ideal for attacking the enemy airports, headquarters or strategically important targets.
The US were furious when the Russia offered the Club-K for export and that says enough about what the potential adversaries think of it.
The container with Club-K missile system can be loaded on any universal platform for its shipping and that allows any freighter ship, train or a hauler to be converted into the weapon. It is virtually impossible to track the when it is dispatched widely on various platforms and that gives an element of surprise and prevents the attacker from dealing the preemptive strike on the launchers. This also allows the merchant fleet to be converted in almost battle cruisers. Naturally, these systems lack many things to be considered as the open threat to anyone, but they are potent enough to counter the invading forces and that is its strongest point.
All in all, the Club-K system gives a headache to invading forces with a very good reason. It is almost impossible to track and once it starts firing, it is very hard to defend against it.