Forced diplomacy: why NATO is afraid of Russian Iskander missile system

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MOSCOW, (BM) – The Russian missile arsenal has no analogues in the world in terms of the number of products, writes The National Interest. “Moscow inherited an extensive collection of missiles from the Soviet Union, and despite the fact that the Russian missile arsenal is somewhat outdated, it forms the basis for Moscow’s strategic actions,” American journalists note.

According to the authors of the article, under the term A2/AD, this implies “anti-access/area denial, A2/AD” in local conflicts, which means that the combined armed forces of NATO cannot be Move within range of A2/AD restricted area systems without risk of unacceptable damage. According to National Interest magazine, OTMS (Operational Tactical Missile System) Iskander is the most dangerous weapon of the Russian Armed Forces. This complex has a very low non-nuclear use barrier, and the long range of missiles and their ability to overcome missile defense can immediately lead to enormous damage to the NATO air forces in the event of Iskander attacks on airfields, ammunition depots and materiel and the like.

In addition, the use of the Russian missile arsenal extends to the “delivery of strategic nuclear weapons across the continents.”

Although much has been done by the collective West to deter Moscow with the help of strategic nuclear forces, Russian short-range ballistic missiles were “somewhat missed.”

The SS-26 Iskander missile has a range of 400 to 500 km. Iskander can use a very wide range of warheads. The main ones are the following:

  • to defeat areal targets and entrenched equipment, a fragmentation warhead cassette is used with 54 explosive elements detonated in the air to destroy people and equipment in the trenches from above;
  • a concrete-piercing warhead is used to defeat the bunkers;
  • To destroy point targets, a high-explosive fragmentation warhead is usually used. The remaining combat units can be used for specific (atypical) tasks. In addition, the OTMS can be equipped with a special (nuclear) warhead with a capacity of up to 50 kilotons.

The Iskander export models, writes National Interest, have a lower firing range – about 280 km. For foreign customers, a simplified version of the Iskander-M missile called Iskander-E is offered.

The simplification of the complex concerns the reduction of firing range and delivery options do not include cluster warheads with self-aiming elements. The reduction of the OTMS range in the export version is due to the fact that the export of missiles with a range of more than 300 km is prohibited by international treaties.

“It’s also a pretty accurate weapon,” National Interest points out. The guidance system of the Iskander is mixed: inertial in the initial and middle parts of the flight and optical in the final part of the flight, which ensures high accuracy of the missile’s hitting the target. Miss – no more than 5-7 m. It is possible to use GLONASS in addition to the inertial guidance system. There are several modifications of the rocket, differing in warhead and telemetry. Missiles in flight can receive remotely new target coordinates by radio, which allows them to hit moving targets (including ships).

The optical homing head (OHH) produced by NPP Radar mms is infrared. It allows you to find the target of defeat by landmarks on the terrain, even on a moonless night. The advantage of an optical seeker is its stability against the use of electronic warfare by the enemy to suppress satellite navigation signals or radio commands.

The Iskander complex has a transport-loading machine (TLM), which is designed to transport two additional missiles. To install products on a self-propelled launcher, the TLM is equipped with a loading crane.

OTMS Iskander is deployed both in the main territory of Russia and in Kaliningrad, an important Russian exclave near Poland and the Baltic Sea, writes National Interest. From this region, Iskander can hit targets in Poland, some regions of eastern Germany, southern Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, Belarus and a large part of the Baltic Sea.

Kaliningrad’s Iskanders are “an excellent example of Russian compulsory diplomacy”, writes National Interest. From this exclave, Russia can hit targets in most of the Baltic Sea, threatening an important route for the delivery of troops and materiel, and also destroy many of NATO’s joint forces.

The publication also appreciated the export capabilities of Iskander. Several countries at different times showed interest in acquiring the system (Syria, Iran and the United Arab Emirates in 2005, India, Kuwait, South Korea, Syria, Malaysia and again the UAE in 2008, Saudi Arabia in 2015). However, so far, Armenia and Algeria remain the only buyers of OTMS. The contracts were executed in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

In combination with a clear Russian A2/AD strategy, especially in the Baltic region with the deployment of OTMS in the Kaliningrad exclave, the Iskander is a very effective weapon.

“I would remind you that at present there are several modifications of OTMS Iskander,” said Konstantin Makienko, deputy director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, in an interview with Gazeta.Ru.

The expert clarified that these include, firstly, Iskander-M – an option for the Russian Armed Forces with two 9M723 quasi-ballistic missiles on a launcher, the firing range of the system is up to 500 km; secondly, Iskander-K is an option using two R-500 cruise missiles with a firing range of up to 500 km.

The flight height of the rocket is about 7 m when reaching the target and the product is automatically adjusted all the time of the flight and automatically envelops the terrain; finally, it is an export version of OTMS – Iskander-E.

As the source said, the last missile brigade in the Russian Armed Forces received the Iskander at the end of November 2019. The 448th missile brigade deployed in Kursk of the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District completed the rearmament from the 9K79-1 Tochka-U tactical missile systems to the 9K720 Iskander-M new tactical missile systems.

Until recently, the 448th missile brigade remained the last of 13 missile brigades of the Armed Forces of Russia, equipped with outdated Tochka-U air defense missile systems. Thus, the rearmament of this brigade marks the final withdrawal of the Tochka-U OTMS from the armament of the linear units of the Russian Armed Forces (although the operation of the Tochka-U will probably continue for some time by parts of the 60th training center for the combat use of missile forces and land artillery Russian troops in Kapustin Yar).

The remaining 12 missile brigades received brigade kits of Iskander-M OTMS from 2010 to 2019 (nine brigades were rearmament with the Tochka-U OTRK and three brigades — the 3rd, 12th and 464th — were additionally formed) .

The 448th Missile Brigade in Kursk received the second of two additional brigade kits of the OTMS 9K720 Iskander-M under a contract concluded in August 2017 by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with JSC Scientific and Production Corporation Mechanical Engineering Bureau.

The first brigade kit of OTMS Iskander-M under this contract was earlier delivered at the beginning of 2019 to staff the newly formed 464th missile brigade of the 8th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Southern Military District with deployment in Znamensk (Astrakhan Region, the same Kapustin Yar training ground )

Among the distinguishing qualities of the Iskander OTMS, experts distinguish mobility, short deployment time, as well as maneuverability and accuracy of missile guidance on the target. The completion of the rearmament by the Iskanders will significantly increase the combat potential of the Russian army.


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