The Russian army has adopted a novel strategy to deploy their Iskander-M ballistic missile systems against Ukrainian positions. This approach involves firing multiple missiles at a given target simultaneously.
The technique entails subsequent strikes, strategically timed to optimally impact the Ukrainian forces. Reportedly, these attacks have been highly effective in surprising the Ukrainian troops and escalating casualties, particularly when the personnel gather at the impact zone.
Initially, Russian forces grappled with a shortage of 9K720 missiles for their Iskander-M systems. However, a substantial increase in production, ramped up to several times the pre-war rates, has ensured a readily available supply of missiles. This has paved the way for the implementation of new tactics that involve deploying more missiles.
The growing belief that the Ukrainian forces may be nearing the breaking point may have further incentivized this approach to maximize casualties, despite the additional expenditure it incurs for the Russian army.
With ground-based air defense systems such as the S-400, the Iskander-M is a sector where Russia maintains a robust production capacity advantage over its Western and East Asian competitors. This capacity has helped the defense sector not only keep pace with wartime expenditures but also to enhance numbers in service while continuing exports.
The system is invaluable for counteracting NATO forces asymmetrically, compensating for Russia’s somewhat limited air-to-surface strike capabilities due to its smaller air force and sparse number of fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
The launched missiles pose unique defense challenges. Not only can these missiles carry specialized penetrative warheads, but their semi-ballistic depressed trajectories featuring apogees of 50km and extensive in-flight maneuverability make them extremely hard to intercept.
The Iskander-M is fundamentally based on the Soviet OTR-23 Oka. Although decommissioned under American pressure after the Cold War, the enhanced Oka-U variant resembles the new Russian system closely in capabilities and appearance.
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