.Russia is marketing a new missile launching system called the Club-K, that hides a complete missile battery in a standard shipping container, thus converting any cargo ship, semi tractor-trailer truck, or rail car into a covert Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL).
Each shipping container can hold up to four cruise or ballistic missiles.
Such a system could enter ports undetected, and have such short flight times that any defense would be problematic. Identification of these systems would be difficult to say the least, since all shipping containers would be suspect.
With a few of these onboard, any merchant vessel could have the capability to wipe out an entire naval task force.
In this Reuters report, Robert Hewson, of Janes Defense Weekly, estimates the cost of the system at $10-20M.
One of the missiles on offer is a special anti-ship variant with a second stage which splits off after launch and accelerates to supersonic speeds of up to Mach 3. "It's a carrier-killer," said Hewson of Jane's. "If you are hit by one or two of them, the kinetic impact is vast...it's horrendous."
Here is the marketing video from the Russian company CONCERN MORINFORMSYSTEM-AGAT that developed the system. It dramatically showcases the whole concept, including the supersonic anti-ship variant. The plot involves a little peaceful tropical country (i.e. the Russian propaganda version of Venezuela) being threatened by a neighboring country that so happens to have F-16s and C-17 Globemasters (i.e. American-backed Columbia). Click the button with the four arrows to view in full HD.
As the Russian company says in Borat-style English on their website:
With the help of Club-K and Club-U Missile Systems almost every type of ship can be turned into missile ship by installing of either 40-foot standard marine container with universal launching module (Club-K), either one of three launching modules (inclined, vertical or elevating) – Club-U.And then there is this very interesting nugget from their site:
Our solid experience in the constructive mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign and Russian customers and partners enables us to manufacture products that completely satisfy the customer’s requirements, as well as to offer flexible terms for financing our contracts.
While they state that they will carefully control sales, I imagine that Iran will get their hands on one, re-engineer it, and make several hundred over the next few years. They have a history of doing that with Russian weapon systems.