Moscow admits Moskva sank; Norwegian AGM-119 Penguin missile suspected

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The Russian Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported that the cruiser Moskva sank while it was being towed in a storm after a fire that led to explosions.

“During the towing of the cruiser Moskva to the port of destination, due to damage to the hull received during the fire from the detonation of ammunition, the ship lost stability (the ability of the ship to withstand external forces causing it to roll and then return to a state of equilibrium – Ed.). In the conditions of stormy seas, the ship sank,” the statement said.

In addition, the Ministry of Defense noted that, as previously reported, the crew of the cruiser was shifted to nearby ships of the Black Sea Fleet.

Earlier, the Russian MoD reported said that the cruiser remained buoyant after the fire. It was also noted that the main missile armament was not damaged as a result of the explosion.

“Explosions of ammunition have been stopped. The cruiser “Moskva” remains buoyant. The main missile armament was not damaged,” the ministry said.

But, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the ship was seriously damaged.

Earlier, the Pentagon press secretary, John Kirby, said that the Moskva cruiser was afloat and reached Sevastopol on its own. 

Lithuanian version

On Thursday, Lithuania’s Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas wrote on his Facebook page, “At 1.14 a.m., the cruiser lay on its side, and after half an hour, all the electricity went out. From 2 a.m., the Turkish ship evacuated 54 sailors from the cruiser, and at about 3 a.m., Turkiye and Romania reported that the ship had completely sunk. The related loss of Russian personnel is still unknown, although there were 485 crew on board (66 of them officers).”

Ukraine Says it hit Moskva

The Ukrainian authorities, of course, are celebrating the great victory, vying with each other, claiming that the cruiser was hit by their forces, but the versions diverge. Some say that Moskva was attacked from the shore by a Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missile. Others claimed that the strike was from a Bayraktar TB2 drone with a radar-guided missile.

Was it Penguin mk2 mod two anti-ship missiles?

Russian media, Komsomolskaya Pravda, speculates that Moskva could have been hit by Norwegian AGM-119 Penguin missiles of the Mk-2 modification. 

The Penguin Mk2 ship systems include guided missiles, fire control systems and automatic missile testing, transport and launch containers and launchers. 

As per the Russian media, Ukraine long possessed Western missiles that could reach Moskva. On January 19, 2021, a US C-40 Clipper military transport aircraft (painted to look like civil aircraft) secretly delivered a batch of containers with special cargo to Odesa. At the time of unloading, active jamming systems were used.

Earlier, Russian experts believed that Penguin was one of the main contenders for missile models that the United States could transfer to Ukraine. They were the easiest to use, although, in terms of characteristics, they are not quite top-notch. The cost is about a million dollars per unit. 


The Penguin short-range anti-ship missile was created specifically for operation in coastal skerry areas and was supposed to provide reliable target selection against the backdrop of a rugged coastline. This could explain the Ukrainian claim that the missile was fired from Snake Island.

Probably, because of the proximity to the water and resemblance to the bird led to its naming as “Penguin.”

Penguin was developed in the early 1970s by the Norwegian firm Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace, with financial support from the U.S. Navy. The basic version, the Mk1, entered service with the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1972. Three years later, a modernized version of the missile with an increased firing range, the Mk2, was developed. 


The Penguin family of missiles includes a number of modifications designed for use from various carriers, which are in service with the U.S. Navy, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Australia, Turkey, Brazil and a number of other countries. 

The latest in the family is the Mk3 and Mk2 mod7 variants, which have increased combat effectiveness, firing range and control systems. Probably, they were transferred to Ukraine. 

Norwegian AGM-119 Penguin missile
Norwegian AGM-119 Penguin missile. Image: Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace

Modification Mk2 mod7 is the most modern, and it received the designation AGM-119B. The missile is equipped with a warhead weighing 120 kg. Designed to fire from surface ships and helicopters, it features a two-stage engine and a folding wing. It is used on U.S. Navy SH-60B Seahawk helicopters, as well as on Greek Navy helicopters. 

The operational range is 34+ km (MK2) and 55+ km (MK3).


Missiles Penguin Mk2 mod7 have an aerodynamic “canard” and a modular design. The nose compartment contains an autonomous noise-proof infrared homing head, a radio altimeter, an autopilot and navigation control system servos. The navigation system platform is located in the gimbal suspension, and the onboard computer and power source are also located there. A warhead and a delayed contact fuse are placed in the central compartment. In the tail compartment, there is a single-chamber solid-propellant engine and a safety actuator. A cruciform wing with ailerons is attached to the surface of the compartment.


The combat use of Penguin missiles is based on the “fire and forget” principle. Depending on the location of the target, the missile can, according to a given program, change the direction of flight by 360 degrees. After launch, the rocket descends to a pre-selected and controlled height, and control is carried out using an inertial navigation system. Upon reaching the programmed range to the target, the missile goes to a low or extremely low altitude. Then, after turning on the homing head to improve the search and capture of the target, the flight altitude increases again.

The control system allows the user to operate outside the line of sight of the target. The missile can move along a complex pre-programmed trajectory, go around obstacles on the ground and attack the target in the most vulnerable sectors. The infrared homing head is characterized by high resolution and selectivity and can be used to hit a wide range of targets in conditions of intense countermeasures. The range for capturing a medium-sized target is about 1000 m, and the field of view is 45 °.

The launch is controlled by one operator using a remote control located in the control room of the ship.

Britain to supply Harpoon

On April 9, British Prime Minister Boris Jones announced the supply of weapons to Ukraine, which includes the anti-ship missile Harpoon. As per speculation, the Harpoon modification to be supplied has a maximum firing range of 90 to 220 kilometres.


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