| 9K720 Iskander |
|Type||Short-range ballistic missile|
|Place of origin||Russia|
|Used by||Russian Ground Forces|
Armenian Armed Forces
Algerian People's National Army
Armed Forces of Belarus
Syrian Civil War
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine
|Manufacturer||Votkinsk Plant State Production Association (Votkinsk) – missiles|
Production Association Barricades (Volgograd) – ground equipment
KBM (Kolomna) – developer of the system
|Unit cost||$3 million |
|Mass||3,800 kg (8,400 lb)|
|Length||7.3 m (24 ft)|
|Diameter||0.92 m (3 ft 0 in)|
|Warhead||480–700 kg (1,060–1,540 lb) thermonuclear weapon, high-explosive fragmentation, submunition, penetration, fuel–air explosive, EMP|
|Engine||Single-stage solid propellant|
|400–500 km (250–310 mi) for Iskander-M|
|Maximum speed||2,000 m/s (Mach 5.9) burn-out velocity (hypersonic)|
|Inertial guidance, optical DSMAC (Iskander-M), TERCOM (Iskander-K), use of GPS / GLONASS in addition to the inertial guidance system |
Inertial, use of GPS / GLONASS and optical DSMAC terminal homing
|Accuracy||1–30 m (9K720)|
5–7 m (Iskander-M)
The 9K720 Iskander (Russian: «Искандер»; NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian military. They travel at a terminal hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) and can reach an altitude of 50 km as they range up to 500 km. The missile systems (Искандер-М) were intended to replace by 2020 the supposedly-obsolete OTR-21 Tochka systems in the Russian military.
The Iskander has several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel–air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, a high-explosive fragmentation warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electromagnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. The missile can also carry nuclear warheads. In September 2017, the KB Mashinostroyeniya (KBM) general designer Valery M. Kashin said that there were at least seven types of missiles (and "perhaps more") for Iskander, including one cruise missile.
The road-mobile Iskander[note 1] was the second attempt by Russia to replace the Scud missile. The first attempt, the OTR-23 Oka, was eliminated under the INF Treaty. The design work on Iskander was begun in December 1988, initially directed by the KBM rocket weaponry designer Sergey Nepobedimy, and was not significantly affected by the dissolution of the USSR in 1991.
The first successful launch occurred in 1996.
In September 2004, at a meeting with senior defense officials reporting to President Vladimir Putin on the drafting of a defense budget for 2005, the Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke about the completion of static tests of a new tactical missile system called the Iskander. He said that the system would go into quantity production in 2005 and toward the end of that year, Russia would have a brigade armed with it. 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".
In 2006, serial production of the Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile system was launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army. The production cost of the missile system was reported in 2014 to have been slashed by a third by cutting the 20% markup applied by the missile manufacturer at each stage of the components supply chain from a cumulative 810% to markup of 21% applied only to the finished product.
There was a report by GosNIIP, the design bureau that builds guidance for cruise missiles, that Russia completed state acceptance trials of the "ground-based 9M728/9M729 missiles and their modernized version."
In November 2016, the Russian military announced that the modernization of the Iskander-M system was underway. A number of countries were reported to have shown interest in purchasing the export version of Iskander, but such possibility was only announced in early February 2017.
The United States has argued that the 9M728/9M729 (SSC-X-7/SSC-X-8) cruise missiles used by Iskander-K violates the INF Treaty because their estimated range is beyond 500 km.
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 an inseparable 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 an artillery observer, or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in the case of engaging mobile targets. Another unique feature of Iskander-M  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. According to some rumors, 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 (American officials have confirmed the use of decoys in at least some versions). 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. It uses small fins to reduce its radar signature.
The Russian Iskander-M travels at a hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) and an altitude of 50 km. The Iskander-M weighs 4,615 kg, carries a warhead of 710–800 kg, has a range of 500 km and achieves a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–7 meters (when coupled with optical homing head; 30–70 m in autonomous application).
Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts. It is intended to use conventional or thermonuclear weapon warheads for the engagement of small and area targets (both moving and stationary), such as hostile fire weapons, air and anti-missile defenses, command posts and communications nodes and troops in concentration areas, among others. According to Russian claims, the area of destruction from a single warhead is 25,000 square meters, or about two football fields and the accuracy of the missile allows it to hit targets the size of a small window from a range of several tens of kilometers.
In 2007, a new missile for the system (and launcher) was test fired, the R-500when?] "Iskander-M" system, outfitted with cruise and ballistic missiles, is being delivered to the military. In 2013, army missile brigades first received missiles equipped with a new control system. As of 2018, the Iskander missile complex can now strike static sea targets.cruise missile, with a range of applications up to 2000 km or more. Presently,[
In 2020 it was said that the MAZ was the primary supplier for the chassis of the launchers for the Iskander-M because the domestic Russian products are of comparatively low quality.
The system can be transported by various vehicles, including airplanes.
When nuclear armed, the warhead is estimated to have a yield of 5 to 50 kilotonnes of TNT (21 to 209 TJ) (Iskander-M).
The first documented use of the Iskander was in the Russo-Georgian War in which Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was killed on 12 August 2008 in Gori. An investigation by the Dutch government revealed that a single, 5 mm fragment from an anti-personnel sub-munition, carried by an Iskander missile, killed the Dutch journalist.
In September 2009, the Russian military announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles in all the military districts of Russia "in a short time".
According to the Stratfor report in 2010 there were five Iskander brigades stationed and operational in Russia, namely the 26th Rocket Brigade in the town of Luga, Leningrad Oblast, south of St. Petersburg; 92nd Rocket Brigade at Kamenka, near Penza in the Volga region; 103rd Rocket Brigade at Ulan-Ude, north of Mongolia; 107th Rocket Brigade at Semistochni, in the Far East; and the 114th Rocket Brigade at Znamensk, in the northern Caucasus.
In June 2013, it was revealed that Russia had deployed several Iskander-M ballistic missile systems in Armenia at undisclosed locations. In 2016, it was reported by media that Armenia had received a divizion of Iskander missiles.
In November 2014, US General Breedlove stated that Russian forces "capable of being nuclear" had been moved into Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula which the Russian Federation had annexed in March, and the following month Ukrainian Armed Forces announced that Russia had deployed a nuclear-capable Iskander division in the territory. Russian Foreign Ministry officials declared the right to deploy nuclear weapons in the peninsula, which is generally recognized as part of Ukraine, in December 2014 and June 2015.
In March 2016, at least one Iskander system was reportedly deployed at Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria. In January 2017 an Israeli company claimed satellite photography confirmed the Syrian deployment.
According to a Fox News report in early February 2017, four Iskander missiles had been fired at opposition targets in the Idlib province in Syria.
During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russia launched several Iskander missiles over their border into Ukraine as part of their assault. Here, these missiles demonstrated a previously unknown capability that employed decoys to confuse air defense systems. It is believed this technology was kept a closely guarded secret, and not included on Iskander missiles exported outside of Russia. Up from 23 April 2022, Russia deployed more units equipped with Iskander-M to the Belgorod Oblast as close as 60 km from the border of Ukraine. Ukraine said in March 2023 that it is unable to shoot down Iskander-M missiles, however, on May 29th, Ukraine claimed to have destroyed 11 Iskander missiles
In November 2008, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in his first annual address to the Federal Assembly of Russia announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia's westernmost territory on the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, if the U.S. went ahead with its European Ballistic Missile Defense System. On 17 September 2009, US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of the U.S. missile defense project in Poland and the Czech Republic. The following day, Moscow indicated it might in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad; a few days later, the decision not to deploy was confirmed by Medvedev.
According to Russian unofficial media reports, Russia deployed Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast as part of military exercises in March 2015.
On 8 October 2016, the Russian military confirmed that they had moved Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad Oblast, adding the move was part of routine drills and had happened previously multiple times and would happen in future. A few days after, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Russian State Duma Vladimir Shamanov commented that the transfer of missile systems Iskander-M into the Kaliningrad region had been effected to counter potential threats from the U.S. missile defense facilities that had been stationed in Europe as well as those that might be stationed subsequently.
In early February 2018, Shamanov confirmed that Russia had deployed an unidentified number of Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad region. Days prior, the local military commanders said that the "park zones" for Iskander missiles deployment had been completed in the Kaliningrad region, as well as in North Ossetia.
Armenia reportedly used its Iskander missiles against Azerbaijani forces during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. According to unconfirmed claims by ex-president of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, the missiles were fired on the town of Shushi after its capture by Azerbaijani forces in the last days of the war. Responding to these claims, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan neither confirmed nor denied the claim that an Iskander was fired on Shushi, but implied that the missiles that were launched did not explode or only exploded "by 10 percent." The Armenian prime minister's claims were rejected by a number of Russian lawmakers and military experts as well as by ex-defense minister of Armenia Seyran Ohanyan (under whom the missiles were acquired by Armenia). The Russian Ministry of Defence released a statement claiming that the Iskander missiles were not used at all during the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Another claim was made by an anonymous Azerbaijani official that Armenian forces fired an Iskander missile at Azerbaijan's capital Baku in the last days of the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, but it was shot down by an Israeli-made Barak 8. On March 15, employees of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action, who were demining and clearing the territories from mines and shells in Shushi, discovered the wreckage of an Iskander-M missile with identification number 9M723.
Currently there are seven different types of ballistic and cruise missiles for both variants of the Iskander missile system.
Variant for the Russian Armed Forces with two 9M723 quasi-ballistic missiles with published range 415 km. Speed Mach 6–7, flight altitude up to 6–50 km, nuclear capable missile, controlled at all stages, not ballistic flight path. Immediately after the launch and upon approach to the target, the missile can perform intensive maneuvering to evade anti-ballistic missiles.
"K" for Krylataya ("Winged"). Variant intended to carry various types of cruise missiles (Russian: крылатая ракета; literally winged rocket). At present, it includes:
"E" for Eksport. The director of the state corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov commented that the Iskander missile complex is a serious offensive weapon capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. This ballistic missile system is in the military list of products prohibited for export. Iskander missile complexes cannot be exported.
In 2016, Armenia, a Russian ally and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) became the first foreign country to operate the system. Iskander-E has a maximum range up to 280 km, to comply with Missile Technology Control Regime restrictions for export, and is fitted with a simplified inertial guidance system. It flies on a flattened trajectory under 50 km altitude, allowing aerodynamic steering using tail fins, permitting a less predictable flight path and accurate delivery. The system can also use missiles carrying warheads with cluster munitions.
The full Iskander system includes
The system is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of point and area targets, including:
It is also capable of striking strongly protected targets, such as bunkers or hardened aircraft shelters
Russian Armed Forces Iskander-K TEL 9P78-1 raising two containers for 9M728 missiles, military-technical forum Army-2022, Alabino range, Moscow region, Russia
At the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade
With "V" marking for use in Ukraine
Rehearsal of 2018 Victory day parade in Moscow
Rehearsal of 2018 Victory day parade in Moscow
SKSHU "Vostok-2014". Day two: missile launch of the Iskander-M OTRK by the 107th missile brigade for a training target
SKSHU "Vostok-2014". Day two: missile launch of the Iskander-M OTRK by the 107th missile brigade for a training target
9P78-1 TEL for Iskander-M system in Alabino during rehearsals for the 2015 Moscow Victory Day Parade
A camouflaged Iskander-M complex during an exercise in Transbaikalia, June 2021
A Russian Iskander-M mobile theater ballistic missile system (NATO reporting name: SS-26 Stone), 27 April 2010
A Russian OTRK Iskander system during the 2010 Victory day parade in Moscow
Transporter erector launcher "Iskander-E" with two missiles and "Tochka-U" launcher (lhs background) at the display of military equipment exhibition dedicated to the anniversary of victory in the Battle of Stalingrad, in Volgograd 2 February 2008
A launcher 9P78-1 of Russian missile system 9K720 Iskander in foreground and a transloader 9T250 in the background shown at Army-2016
9T250-1 Transport Loader for Iskander-M system, view from above, at the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow
Iskander-M short-range ballistic missiles are releasing a previously unknown decoy designed to evade air-defense systems, an American official said.
Оперативно-тактический ракетный комплекс (ОТРК) "Искандер-М" работает со снайперской точностью, его ракета способна попасть в цель величиной с форточку с расстояния в несколько десятков километров.