Russian Su-30SM With Kh-31 Supersonic Missiles “Harassed” Dutch Frigate In Black Sea

Su-30SM Kh-31
A Su-30SM with two Kh-31 missiles flying close to Zr.Ms. Evertsen in the Black Sea (Image credit: Dutch MOD). In the box the Kh-31 missile (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)

The Dutch MOD said the Russian jets carried out mock attacks on HNLMS Evertsen frigate in the Black Sea last week. Photos show at least one of the Su-30SM aircraft carried Kh-31 missiles.

Russian aircraft “repeatedly harassed” Royal Netherlands Navy frigate Zr.Ms. Evertsen (HNLMS Evertsen) in the Black Sea, the Dutch MOD claimed today. The Dutch frigate, that is part of the British HMS Queen Elizabeth Strike Group, was sailing some 70 nautical miles south-east of Crimea when armed Russian aircraft carried out mock attacks on Evertsen on Jun. 24, 2021.

The incident occurred the day after HMS Defender, a Type 45 destroyer also part of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, was buzzed by Russian jets near Crimea: according to Moscow, a Russian Coast Guard patrol ship fired twice at the British vessel as it entered Russian territorial waters while a Russian Navy Su-24M jet dropped four bombs near the destroyer or “in its path”; according to the British MOD, the destroyer was conducting “innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law” and “no shots were directed at HMS Defender” and no bombs were dropped in her path either.

While the British MOD downplayed the Jun. 23 incident involving HMS Defender, the Dutch MOD called the Jun. 24 incident involving HNLMS Evertsen “irresponsible”.

“The planes repeatedly harassed the Everts between about 3.30 pm and 8.30 pm local time. They flew dangerously low and close by, performing mock attacks. The fighters were armed with bombs and so-called air-to-surface missiles […]. After hours of intimidation, disruptions to electronic equipment of the Evertsen also took place,” says an official note of the Dutch MOD.

“The Russian actions violated the right to the free use of the sea. In addition, they go against mutual agreements, as laid down in the INCSEA treaty. The agreement must prevent unsafe situations at sea.”

Minister Ank Bijleveld-Schouten calls the Russian actions “irresponsible”. “Sr.Ms. Evertsen has every right to sail there. There is no justification whatsoever for this kind of aggressive action, which also unnecessarily increases the risk of accidents. The Netherlands will address Russia about this.”

By the way, yesterday we reported about an F-35B flying over a Russian Group in the east Mediterranean Sea here.

Images released by the Dutch MOD show Russian Naval Aviation Su-30SM flying close and low over Zr. Ms. Evertsen. At least one of the multirole aircraft appears to carry two Kh-31 missiles (NATO reporting name: AS-17 Krypton).

The Kh-31 is a Mach 3 anti-radar and anti-shipping missile, that has been produced since the 1980s. Several variants of the missile are available, with different warheads. According to “Russia’s Air Launched Weapons” by Piotr Butowski, “the most interesting element of the Kh-31 design is an integral rocket-ramjet propulsion system, the 31DPK (izdeliye 52), developed by the Soyuz engine design bureau in Turayevo outside Moscow and combining a solid-propellant 31DT-1 rocket booster made by Kartukov Iskra and a 31DP ramjet made by Soyuz. The  Kh-31 is accelerated to Mach 1.8 by means of the 31DT-1; when the solid fuel is expended, the engine is ejected and the inside of the missile body is transformed into a combustion chamber for the 31DP ramjet, which accelerates the missile to Mach 3.5 at an altitude of 16,000m (52,493ft), or Mach 1.8 at sea level.”

The Kh-31A (AS-17B) is the anti-shipping derivative of the missile that entered production in 1990. With an active radar seeker, it works in both lock-on before and after launch modes and also has a radio altimeter for precise low-altitude flight over water. Its maximum range is 50 km and the minimum launch distance is 7.5 km. The upgraded Kh-31AM is believed to have an extended range (120-160 km).

H/T @DutchSpace for the heads-up!

Russian Kh-31-missile (NATO-code: AS-17 Krypton) attached to the left wing of a russian fighter aircraft, displayed at the MAKS Airshow 2003. (Image credit: Panther/Wiki)
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.