Home Europe In a first, German corvettes strike land targets with RBS15 Mk3 missiles

In a first, German corvettes strike land targets with RBS15 Mk3 missiles

German K130 corvette launching an RBS15 Mk3 missile
Photo: German Navy

The German Navy has demonstrated a new use for its RBS15 Mk3 anti-ship missile hitting a land target with it for the first time during trials in Norway last month.

The heavy guided missile has been in service with the German naval forces since 2008 on board the K130 corvettes, which are also referred to as the Braunschweig-class. The ships of the class previously only fired the RBS15 at targets at sea.

K130 corvette FGS Oldenburg has now proven that the navy can use a precision distance weapon “against targets relatively far behind the coast,” the test director of the Missile Firing exercise 2022, Commander Nikolaus Hey, explained. “This step now officially enables the corvettes to engage targets from 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, in shallow and narrow waters. The Oldenburg demonstrated this with the May 18 firing, sailing deep into the northern Norwegian fjords to launch the missiles.

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, and 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 FGS 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.

RBS15 missile
A K130 corvette launching an RBS15 missile. Photo: Diehl Defence

Developed and delivered jointly by Germany’s Diehl Defence and Sweden’s Saab, RBS Mk3 is a new-generation, long-range guided missile that can attack land targets thanks to its active radar seeker and a combination of inertial and GPS-based navigation.