Military authorities of Russia had always realized that making land-based and sea-based weapons unified is one of the most important tasks of effective armed forces arrangement.
Back in the end of 19th century, there was a pretty successful attempt made to create a 10-inch longrange gun unified for ships and land fortresses. In the second half of 20th century, missiles and rockets became the main weapon, but even they tended to be unified, especially in areas where weapons enabled completion of similar tasks, like in the air defense (AD).
In fact, the first Soviet Union sea-based anti-aircraft missile systems were based on land-based air defense systems. These were Volkhov-M M-2 AD system based on С-75 AD system of AD land forces and Volna М-1 AD system – a sea edition of С-125. But the Navy authorities were not quite satisfied with sea editions of land AD systems. Next systems – Osa-M AD systems – were manufactured, starting with initial design, in respect to the needs of the Navy, and it was required to make them unified with land Osa AD system. Sadly, the level of military and technical development didn't make it possible to complete this task at that time. Special features of sea AD systems were supposed to ensure firing on the move – a destroyer or cruiser must not stop to counter an air attack. Anyway, such features require stabilization of all radar antennas in three dimensions and powerful computer systems, comparing to at-halt firing, which would increase the system’s weight. Big weight of an AD system is not a problem for heavy and medium displacement ships – only couple of dozens of tons would be added to their weapons’ weight of hundreds and thousands tons. But such an increase in weight would turn out to be critical for land AD systems – Osa AD system had only target acquisition radar antennas stabilized, missiles had to be guided at halt. As a result, only 9М33 surface-toair missile was unified.
The same happened during development of the next-generation short-range AD system – land-based Tor and sea-based Kynzhal. Once again, using the same missile the systems appeared to be significantly different in arrangement and performance. To understand the difference in requirements to land and sea AD systems, these systems need to be compared. Tor AD system had one target channel, and Kynzhal AD system, accepted for service in the same year, had already four channels. On the one hand, a combat ship is a much more attractive target comparing to a tank or a multiple rocket launcher and must have more features to counter mass air attacks. On the other hand, cruisers and destroyers of the Navy could carry heavier systems, comparing to those installed on land-based chassis: whereas total weight of Tor system was 32 tons, only Kynzhal launcher took 42 tons of its carrier's displacement. The truth is that in the USSR Navy effective AD systems were installed on heavy and medium displacement ships only because of Kynzhal systems heavy weight, and small-size forces of the Navy had to use only artillery AD units or sea editions of MANPADS.
However, within 45–30 years since the first Osa and Tor systems were accepted in service, the situation changed greatly. On the one side, amount of combat ships in the Navy decreased, but their capabilities increased significantly. One cannot compare patrol ships of the 159A Project and their torpedo-artillery weapons to small missile-launching ships of the 21631 Project, carrying Caliber systems, – that much is the difference in their attack capabilities, after all, the latter have two times less displacement. Therefore, every unit in the Navy became much more important. And leaving even small ships undefended against air attacks wouldn't be wise. On the other side, today's development of short-range AD systems enables the industry to manufacture space-effective AD missile system suitable for low displacement ships, apart from cruisers and destroyers.
Today's Tor-family systems, starting with Tor-M2U, have four target channels. SAMs 9М338К were accepted for the latest Tor-M2 systems having 35% smaller diameter than SAMs 9М330-2 accepted for Kynzhal AD system, improving ammunition twice. Finally, development of radioelectronic components makes short-range AD systems capable to fire on the move. Thus, in 2015 Tor-M2U AD system destroyed airborne targets while moving at the speed of 25 km/h, and in 2016 the system performed successful training firings while moving at the speed of 45 km/h. Let us remind about a necessary requirement to a sea AD system capability to perform firing on the move.
To clear up performance of the Torfamily systems in the Navy there were Tor-M2U firing carried out in 2015 from a shoreline at targets flying over the water. The Tors destroyed targets properly that simulated modern air attack means. In September 2016, Tor-М2КМ AD system carried out successful firing from the Admiral Grigorovych frigate, moving in the open sea at the speed of 8 knots, at targets of different type, including targets simulated an anti-ship missile. There through, the Tor-family system performance in the Navy was proved.
Victor Visner, deputy general director for technical development of the IEMP Kupol, points out that “making unified weapons for operation in different conditions is an important task. The solution would greatly decrease cost of production and operation due to batch production enlargement, as well as to manipulate production facilities more effectively. Today we are already capable to perform major efforts in making sea and land short-range AD systems unified. Still, there will be some differences because of various operating conditions, but great options provided in the Tor system make it possible to manufacture nearly all the equipment unified, i.e. the differences would only be in matching the AD system with the ship and computer systems algorithms.” So, it is fair to say that domestic industry today is a footstep away to provide the Navy with effective, space saving and fairly low-cost air defense system. Soviet admirals’ dream is close to become true.