Russia has evidently opted to proceed with sales of the SS-NX-26/Yakhont ASCM to the Syrians. The intent was voiced by Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over the weekend.

“The contract,” he told journalists in Vladivostok, “is in progress.” The minister added his country was also bent on carrying through on promises to deliver several Bastion anti-ship missile systems to Syria.

SS-NX-26/Yakhont Ranges (Syria - red) (Lebanon - yellow)

SSC-5 Bastion CDCM launcher

Anti-ship ballistic missiles may be the newest, sexy thing on the anti-access/area denial (A2AD) block, but the simple fact of the matter is that ASCMs far outnumber ASBMs and constitute a significant challenge to all surface ships.  The SS-NX-26 is part of a new generation of fast, smart ASCMs designed to penetrate the latest air defense systems. Designed for launch from air- (above with the Su-33), surface and subsurface platforms, the SS-NX-26 can fly a hi-lo profile for max range (300 km) or a lo-lo profile (120km), also supersonically (2.5 Mach), to avoid detection by the target, maximizing surprise in delivering its 300 kg warhead.  It also is used in the SSC-5 Bastion coastal defense cruise missile system, reportedly also part of the deal.

The Israelis – and the Israeli Navy in particular (no stranger to ASCM threats) have not surprisingly demurred on Russia’s offering to regional stability:

Security officials warned that the Russian cruise missiles “are potentially dangerous weapons and they may come fall into the hands of Hezbollah, just as other weapons systems came from Syria.”

Not like they haven’t seen the Syrians do this with other systems.  Still, all indications would seem to point to Syria retaining control of the missiles, especially as they would have the necessary over-the-horizon targeting capability to employ the missiles at their full range (e.g., drones, MARPAT, etc.). In light of their experience with (presumably) Iranian-supplied C-802 cruise missiles off the Lebanese coast are that the Israeli navy’s freedom of operation will be further limited while ratcheting up the demand signal for detection and intercept assets — and another spiral in the region’s on-going arms race

Worth noting is that the SS-NX-26/Yakhont forms the basis of the joint Russo-India BrahMOS cruise missile – which is also being developed by the Indians in a LACM (land attack cruise missile) version.   And nothing good could come of that if Syria goes down that path…