Russian Navy cruise missile firings expected in the White Sea & Barents Sea, 5 – 9 October 2020

Russian maritime authorities issued a pair of closure areas (PRIPs) for the White Sea & southern Barents Sea between the 5 – 9 October 2020, 2300Z-1700Z daily.  The White Sea closure area, ARKH PRIP 48/20, is designated for missile firing and comprises a large part of the southern/central White sea from Divina Bay to the southern Kandalskha Gulf and eastwards through to the central area of the Gorlo Strait.  

ARKH PRIP 48/20 for the White Sea, 5-9 October 2020

ARKH PRIP 48/20 will highly likely be used for a Kalibr family missile launch either by SKR-431 Admiral Kasatanov or the lead vessel of the Project 22350 class SKR-454 Admrial Gorshkov.  However, it is interesting to note that Admiral Gorshkov is scheduled to conduct missile testing of the 3M22 Tsirkon (NATO: SS-N-33) hypersonic cruise missile which is expected to arm this class of vessel into the future.  Admiral Gorshkov was imaged alongside a missile loading pier in the White Sea Naval base of Severodvinsk on 1 October 2020 and remains in port as of 4 October.  Therefore, it is a realistic possibility ARKH PRIP 48/20 could be used to support Tsirkon testing. 

The second missile firing closure area, MURM PRIP 248 is located in the southern Barents Sea between Dalniye Zelentsy and Lumbovka.  Timings for this area are exactly the same as ARKH PRIP 48/20.  Whilst it is possible this area may be connected with the White Sea area PRIP, the lack of connecting closure area suggests MURM PRIP 248 may be unrelated.  Nevertheless, both areas are analogous to missile firing activity on 29 September 2020. 

MURM PRIP 248/20, for the southern Barents Sea, 5 - 9 October 2020

Backgound

ARKH PRIP 48/20 is a much-truncated version of ARKH PRIP 45/20 (red) & MURM PRIP 242 AREA B (Cheskaya Bay) (yellow) which were open from 28 September to 2 October 2020.  On that occasion, the closure areas were used by the recently commissioned Russian Navy Northern Fleet subordinate Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov class frigate SKR-431 Admiral Kasatanov to launch a Kalibr family (3M14, NATO: SS-N-30A) cruise missile on 29 September 2020.  Russian Press reporting on the activity can be found here and here 

ARKH PRIP 45/20 & MURM PRIP 242 
28 September - 2 October 2020

MURM PRIP AREA B (Cheskaya Bay) was likely a "range extension" of the White Sea closure and at least two auxiliary vessels repositioned from the White Sea to carry out likely range security in the area between the 28 - 29 September 2020.  However, AREA A between Dalyniye Zelentsy and Lumbovka, is a mystery as it was apparently not used during the Kasatanov firing. 

Update, 7 October 2020

On 7 October 2020, Russian Press reporting indicated that Project 22350 class SKR-454 Admrial Gorshkov had carried out the first launch of a 3M22 Tsirkon hypersonic missile in the White Sea which hit a target 450km away in the Barents Sea.  Subsequent analysis of NOTAM reports indicated that ARKH PRIP 48/20 & MURM PRIP 248 were linked by an air corridor closure.  The distance between both PRIPs is within the 450km range.  Russian press reporting and a video of the launch can be seen HERE and HERE 

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