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Iskander (missile)

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Iskander (missile)

9K720 Iskander
SS-26 Stone
Victory Day Parade rehearsal
Type Tactical ballistic missile
Place of origin Russia
Service history
In service 2006[1]
Used by Russian Ground Forces
Production history
Manufacturer KBM (Kolomna)
Weight 3,800 kg (8,400 lb) for Iskander-E[2]
Length 7.3 m (24 ft)
Diameter 0.92 m (3 ft 0 in)

Warhead 480 kg HE fragmentation, submunition, penetration, fuel-air explosive, EMP for Iskander-E.[4]

Engine Single-stage solid propellant
400 km (250 mi) for Iskander-M
280 km (170 mi) for Iskander-E
Speed 2100 m/s cruising (hypersonic)[3]
Inertial, optical homing, and possibly GLONASS for Iskander-M
Inertial and optical homing for Iskander-E
Accuracy 5–7 m (Iskander-M)
Mobile TEL

The 9K720 Iskander (NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is a mobile theater ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian Federation.


In 1996, the first launch of the Iskander was depicted on Russian television. The road-mobile Iskander was the second attempt to replace the Scud missile since the first attempt, the Oka, was eliminated under the INF Treaty. The Iskander appeared to have several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electro-magnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions.[1][5]

In September 2004, at a meeting with senior defense officials reporting to President Vladimir Putin on the drafting of a defense budget for 2005, then-Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke about the completion of static tests of a new tactical missile system called the Iskander. He said that in 2005, the system would go into quantity production and toward the end of that year, Russia would have a brigade armed with it.[1]

In March 2005, a source in the Russian defence industry told Interfax-AVN the development of new missiles with a range of 500–600 km, based on existing Iskander-E tactical missile systems, was a possibility. He said, however, that it "may take up to five or six years".[1]

In 2006, serial production of the Iskander-M Tactical Ballistic Missile System launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army.[1]


The Iskander ballistic missile is superior to its predecessor, the Oka. The Iskander-M system is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage guided missiles, model 9M723K1. Each one is controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with a nonseparable warhead. Each missile in the launch carrier vehicle can be independently targeted in a matter of seconds. The mobility of the Iskander launch platform makes a launch difficult to prevent.

Targets can be located not only by satellite and aircraft but also by a conventional intelligence center, by a soldier who directs artillery fire or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in the case of engaging mobile targets.[5] Another unique feature of Iskander-M (and Iskander-E)[6] is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission, including such as those from AWACS or UAV. The electro-optical guidance system provides a self-homing capability. The missile's on-board computer receives images of the target, then locks onto the target with its sight and descends towards it at supersonic speed.

Boost phase thrust vector control (TVC) is accomplished by graphite vanes similar in layout to the V-2 and Scud series tactical ballistic missiles. In flight, the missile follows a quasi-ballistic path, performing evasive maneuvers in the terminal phase of flight and releasing decoys in order to penetrate missile defense systems. The missile never leaves the atmosphere as it follows a relatively flat trajectory. The missile is controlled during the whole flight with gas-dynamic and aerodynamic control surfaces. Manufactured by technologies reducing radar cross section (so-called " stealth technology "): a small scattering surface, special coatings, small size projections.[7]

The Russian Iskander-M cruises at hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) at a height of 50 km. The Iskander-M weighs 4615 kg, carries a warhead of 710–800 kg, has a range of 400–480 km, and achieves a CEP (Circular error probable) of 5–7 meters. During flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories and can pull up to 20 to 30 G to evade anti-ballistic missiles. For example, in one of the trajectory modes it can dive at the target at 90 degrees at the rate of 700–800 m/s performing anti-ABM maneuvers.[3][8]

Iskander has achieved accuracy, range and reliability (ability to penetrate defences) that constitutes an alternative approach to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in the face of superior enemy fighters and air defenses. Training and competence requirements are much lower than for normal air force assets like a fighter bomber squadron utilizing guided bombs.

Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts.[9] It is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of small and area targets (both moving and stationary), such as hostile fire weapons, air and antimissile defense weapons, command posts and communications nodes and troops in concentration areas, among others. The system can therefore destroy both active military units and targets to degrade the enemy's capability to wage war.

In 2007, a new missile for the system (and launcher), the R-500 Iskander-K (K stands for krylataya or "winged") cruise missile, was test fired.[10]

Deployment and combat history

According to the Moscow Centre for Strategy and Technology Analysis, the Iskander-M system was combat-tested in the 2008 South Ossetia war with Georgia and it proved highly effective in destroying military targets and infrastructure.[11] Quoting unconfirmed reports, Moscow Defense Brief says that it was an Iskander missile that inflicted a high precision strike on the Georgian Separate Tank Battalion base in Gori, destroying 28 tanks. Russian officials have denied using of the Iskander missile against Georgia but official reports testify to the high effectiveness of the Iskander missiles, as one of the most devastating and accurate weapons in the Russian arsenal.[12] The Dutch government's investigation claims that a single, 5 mm fragment from an anti-personnel sub-munition, that was propelled by an Iskander missile, killed Dutch journalist Stan Storimans in Gori, which was home to various military targets and had been almost completely evacuated before the bombardment.[13]

In November 2008, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in his first state of the nation speech that Russia would deploy Iskander missiles to Russia's western district of Kaliningrad "to neutralize, if necessary, a NATO missile defense system."[14][15] However, on September 17, 2009, US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of the US missile defence project in Poland and the Czech Republic.[16] Following the announcement, on September 26, Medvedev stated in a press conference that he would in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.[17] According to the e-mails leaked by Wikileaks, there are a number of Iskander brigades operational. The leaked e-mail was dated 13 December 2009:[18]

On September 29, 2009, the Russian military announced plans to set up an extensive network of Iskander missiles throughout the country as part of the broader military reforms underway. According to General Vladimir Boldyrev, Iskander systems would be stationed in every defence district in Russia, with exception to Kaliningrad.[19] On November 23, 2011, President Dmitri Medvedev again said that Russia may deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region as part of Russia’s reaction to the United States’ missile shield plans.[20]

In June of 2013 it was revealed that Russia has deployed several Iskander-M ballistic missile systems in Armenia, which are currently stationed at undisclosed locations in the country.[21]


  • Iskander-M – version for Russian armed forces. Range: 400 km with a potential for extension to INF Treaty violation of the no-exceed-limit of 500 km.[22][22][23]
  • Iskander-E – export version, specially designed to meet MTCR restrictions. Range: ~280 km.


Possible future operators

  •  Iran has expressed interest in obtaining the system. In May 2009, the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, referring to selling the system to Iran, stated: "We will sacredly fulfill our agreements with Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and expect more activity in projects earmarked for joint implementation".[31]
  •  Libya has repeatedly expressed interest in replacing its SCUD-B missiles with Iskanders. According to files released by Wikileaks, the sale had been agreed upon with Russia but delayed for unknown reasons.[32]



  • Manufacturer: KB Mashynostroyeniya (KBM, Kolomna)
  • Launch range:
    • maximum: 500 km (Iskander-M, unofficial), 280 km (export version)
    • minimum: 50 km[33]
  • Accuracy:
    • 30–70 m (export version Iskander-E without homing system)
    • 5–7 m with terminal phase optoelectronic homing system (Iskander-M)[33]
  • time to launch: up to 4 min from highest readiness, up to 16 min from march[33]
  • Interval between launches: less than a minute[33]
  • Operating temperature range: -50 °C to +50 °C[33]
  • Burnout Velocity: ~2100 m/s
  • Number of missiles:
    • on 9P78E launcher: 2 (export version)[33]
    • on 9T250E transloader: 2
  • assigned service life: 10 years (Iskander-E)[33]
  • Crew: 3 (launcher truck)

System components

The full Iskander system includes[33]

  • missiles
  • transporter-erector-launcher vehicle (chassis of 8x8 MZKT-79306 ASTROLOG truck)[34]
  • Transporter and loader vehicle (chassis of 8x8 MZKT-79306 ASTROLOG truck)
  • Command and staff vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck)
  • Information preparation station vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck)
  • Maintenance and repair vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck)
  • Life support vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck)
  • Depot equipment set
  • set of equipment for TEL training class
  • set of equipment for CSV training class
  • Training posters
  • Training missile mock-up

Intended targets

The system is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of point and area targets, including:

  • hostile fire weapons (missile systems, multiple launch rocket systems, long-range artillery pieces)
  • air and missile defense weapons, especially stationary
  • fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft at airfields
  • command posts and communications nodes
  • troops in concentration areas
  • critical civilian[dubious ] infrastructure facilities

Comparable systems


  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links

  • Russian Surface To Surface Systems
  • SS-26 Stone @ Defense Update
  • Infographics
  • page on SS-26 Stone
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