3M-54 Kalibr: How Russia’s Most Advanced Cruise Missile Compares to the Tomahawk

Russia has used its Kalibr missile in Ukraine several times... But, are they more accurate than the US Military's Tomahawk?
Anti-submarine missile

The Tomahawk and the Kalibr are both powerful cruise missiles that can cause substantial damage when they hit their intended target. 

They have been in service for years with proven efficiency, instilling fear in the enemy troops. They are both used by military forces worldwide, and they are very useful weapons. So, which one is more deadly?

The upgraded Russian Kalibr cruise missile

Submarine-launched Kalibr anti-ship missile
Submarine launched anti-ship missile by Vitalykuzmin.net. Licensed under CC by 4.0

The Kalibr is a Russian cruise missile that entered service in 1994. It is a powerful weapon that can be used against land and sea targets with a range of up to 2500 kilometers (1550 miles) – and it can also carry a nuclear warhead.

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There are multiple variations of the Kalibr missile family. They vary in range, launch platform, and speed, among other features. But all of them are equipped with either a 990-pound (449 kilograms) warhead or a nuclear payload.

Kalibr at war

This missile has been used by the Russian military in a number of conflicts, including the War in Syria.

Actually, In 2015, Kalibr cruise missiles were launched from a Russian navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, and they easily hit targets in Syria.

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The Kalibr has also been extensively used by the Russian military in Ukraine to destroy the Western weapons supplies and artillery, destroying huge amounts of military equipment. 

The American Tomahawk cruise missile

Tomahawk cruise missil
Tomahawk cruise missile by nara.getarchive.net. Pubic Domain

The Tomahawk is an American cruise missile that was first developed in the 1980s. It’s a powerful weapon that can be used against land and sea targets at a range of up to 1,553 miles (2,500 kilometers)… and like the Kalibr, it can carry a nuclear warhead as well.

The advantage of the Tomahawk missile is that it’s fully capable of taking reconnaissance images after achieving a specified area. Then, it sends images to headquarters.

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In addition, with the Block V upgrade, the Tomahawk has expanded its core capabilities. The improvements include a powerful new seeker that reaches surface targets, enhanced penetrating power, reduced susceptibility to jamming, and a navigation system that reaches targets under downed GPS conditions.

The Tomahawk missile at war

The Tomahawk has been used by the American military in several conflicts, including the War in Afghanistan. In 2001, Tomahawk missiles were launched from American ships in the Arabian Sea, and they hit targets in Afghanistan.

The Tomahawk has also been used by the American military in Iraq, where Tomahawk missiles were launched from American ships in the Persian Gulf, and they hit targets in Iraq.

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Which cruise missile is more powerful: the American Tomahawk or the Russian Kalibr?

Valiant Shield 2018
Valiant Shield 2018 by William Collins III. Public Domain

Tomahawk specs

  • Status: In service since 1983–present
  • Unit cost: $1.87M (Block IV) / $2M (Block V)
  • Mass: 3,500 pounds (1,600 kilograms) with booster
  • Length: 20 feet 6 inches (6.25 meters ) with booster
  • Maximum operational range: 1,553 miles; 2,500 kilometers (Block II TLAM-A) 
  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.74 (567.7 mph; 913.6 km/h)

Kalibr specs

  • Status: In service since 1994
  • Mass: up to 2,300 kilograms (5070 pounds)
  • Length: up to 8.9 meters (29 feet)
  • Maximum operational range: up to 2,500 km (1553 miles)
  • Maximum speed: 2.9 Mach

Both missiles are great deterrents and powerful weapons. The Kalibr is much faster than the Tomahawk with a top speed of Mach 2.9. Additionally, it’s cheaper so it can be mass-produced, and it has great destructive power.

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On the other hand, the Tomahawk is more accurate and is definitely more technologically advanced. The Kalibr is susceptible to jamming and doesn’t have the sophisticated interactive data link technologies of the contemporary Tomahawk.

So, which one is more powerful?

The Tomahawk is more precise and it can even work as a reconnaissance unmanned aircraft, but the Kalibr is faster and cheaper. As a result, both have advantages and disadvantages in real war scenarios.

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The Tomahawk is more sophisticated while the Kalibr does the job at a cheaper price

The Kalibr and Tomahawk are exceptionally effective missiles and both wreak havoc where they hit… and it’s hard to say which one is better since they have advantages and disadvantages.

The Tomahawk boasts over 30 years of service and has been regularly modernized to be a top weapon, but the Kalibr has been really destructive in Syria and Ukraine.

So, the Tomahawk offers an unrivaled accuracy while the Kalibr delivers an outstanding speed and cost-effective destruction power.


Feature image credit: Anti-submarine missile by Vitalykuzmin.net. Licensed under CC by 4.0

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