9K720 Iskander

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9K720 Iskander
SS-26 Stone
Moscow Victory Parade 2010 - Training on May 4 - img15.jpg
Russian Iskander missiles on the 9P78-1 Transporter erector launcher at the 2010 Moscow Victory Day Parade rehearsal
Type Short-range ballistic missile
Place of origin Russia
Service history
In service 2006–present[1]
Used by

Russian Ground Forces

Armenian Armed Forces
Production history
Manufacturer Votkinsk Plant State Production Association (Votkinsk) - missiles
Production Association Barricades (Volgograd) - ground equipment
KBM (Kolomna) - developer of the system
Weight 3,800 kg (8,400 lb)[2]
Length 7.3 m (24 ft)
Diameter 0.92 m (3 ft 0 in)
Warhead 480–700 kg (1,060–1,540 lb) HE fragmentation, submunition, penetration, fuel-air explosive, EMP[3][4]

Engine Single-stage solid propellant
50 km (31 mi)-400–500 km (250–310 mi)[5][6] for Iskander-M
Speed 2,100 m/s (Mach 6.2) cruising (hypersonic)[7]
Inertial guidance, optical DSMAC (Iskander-M), TERCOM (Iskander-K), use of GPS / GLONASS in addition to the inertial guidance system[8]
Inertial, use of GPS / GLONASS and optical DSMAC terminal homing
Accuracy 5–7 m (Iskander-M)
Mobile TEL

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 Federation. The missile systems (Искандер-М) are to replace the obsolete OTR-21 Tochka systems, still in use by the Russian armed forces, by 2020.[9][10]


The road-mobile Iskander was the second attempt to replace the Scud missile. The first attempt, the Oka, was eliminated under the INF Treaty. The Iskander appears to have 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.[1][11][12] The first successful launch occurred in 1996.[13]

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.[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 was launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army.[1] The production cost of the missile system was reported in 2014 to have been slashed by 30%.[14]

In November 2016, the Russian military announced that the modernisation of the Iskander-M System was under way.[9] 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.[13]


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.[11] Another unique feature of Iskander-M [15] 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. 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.[16]

The Russian Iskander-M travels 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 500 km and achieves a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–7 meters. One ex-British Army general refers to a 2m accuracy, with a 800 kilo warhead.It is rumored that during flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories and can turn at up to 20 to 30 G to evade anti-ballistic missiles.This rumor causes great controversy between critics with many argued that Iskander aerodynamic layout and cruising altitude will not allow it to perform high-G maneuver due to lack of lift. Nevertheless, the ability to change direction can give Iskander ability to follows unconventional flight profile. 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 .[7][17].

Iskander has achieved sufficient accuracy, range and reliability to function as an alternative 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 such as a fighter bomber squadron utilizing guided bombs.[citation needed]

Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts.[18] It is intended to use conventional or nuclear 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 (ru) (range of applications up to 2000 km and more[19]) cruise missile, was test fired.[20] Now complex "Iskander-M" is transmitted to the troops complete with cruise and ballistic missiles. In 2013, army missile brigades first received missiles equipped with a new control system.[21]

The system can be transported by any means of transport, not excluding airplanes.[22]

The maximum power for the nuclear warhead is 50 kiloton TNT (Iskander-M).[23]

Deployment and combat history[edit]

In Kaliningrad region[edit]

In November 2008, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in his first annual address to the Federal Assembly of Russia announced plans to deploy Iskander missilies to the Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia′s western-most territory on the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, if the U.S. went ahead with its European Ballistic Missile Defense System.[24][25] On 17 September 2009, US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of the U.S. missile defense project in Poland and the Czech Republic.[26] The following day, Moscow indicated it might in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad;[27] a few days later, the decision not to deploy was confirmed by Medvedev.[28] On 23 November 2011, President Medvedev indicated that Russia might deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region as part of Russia’s reaction to the United States' reformulated missile defence plans in Europe.[29]

In December 2013, President Vladimir Putin denied Western media reports[30] that Russia had deployed Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Oblast.[31]

According to Russian media reports,[32][33] in December 2014 and in March 2015, Russia deployed Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad Oblast as part of military exercises.

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.[34][35] 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.[36]

In mainland Russia and elsewhere[edit]

In September 2009, the Russian military announced plans to station Iskander missiles in all the military districts of Russia "in a short time".[37][38]

According to the Stratfor report in 2010 there were five Iskander brigades stationed and operational in Russia, namely in the town of Luga, south of St. Petersburg; Kamenka, in the Ural region; Ulan-Ude, north of Mongolia; Semistochni, in the Far East; and Znamensk, in the northern Caucasus.[39][40]

In June 2013, it was revealed that Russia had deployed several Iskander-M ballistic missile systems in Armenia at undisclosed locations throughout the country.[41] In 2016, it was reported by media that Armenia had received from the Russian state a divizion of Iskander missiles.[42]

In March 2016, at least one Iskander system was reportedly deployed to the Russian airbase Hmeimim in Syria.[43] In January 2017 an Israeli company claimed satellite photography confirmed the Syrian deployment.[44]

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.[45]


  • Iskander-M – 9M723 version for Russian armed forces. Range: published 415 km, rumoured 500 km. Flight altitude up to 6–50 km, stealth missile, controlled at all stages, not ballistic flight path. The intense maneuvering on takeoff and descent complicates prediction of target.[46] Missile constantly maneuvers during the flight.[22][47]
  • Iskander-K (K stands for krylataya or "winged") - 9M728 cruise missiles, flight altitude up to 6 km, automatic adjustment in the way, follow of terrain relief in flight.[46] Range: 500 km.[48]

Currently the system includes 5 ballistic and 1 cruise missiles.[49]

Export version[edit]

The director of the state corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov said - Missile complexes "Iskander" 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. (Sergey Chemezov: «Iskander» missile complexes cannot be exported. June 6, 2016) [50][51]



  •  Russia - 112 units (9 rocket brigades with 12 units each, and one unit with 4 units in Kapustin Yar).[52][53] In service with the Western Military District since 2010.[54] Also, missiles are deployed in Armenia.[41] Two deliveries in 2013.[55] Missile units in Krasnodar and Stavropol territories as well as in the Republic of Adygea in the 49th Army of the Southern Military District, and a missile brigade in the Eastern Military District received Iskander-M in 2013.[56][57] One more delivery in July 2014.[58] Missile brigade, stationed in the Orenburg region, rearmed on "Iskander-M" on 20 November 2014.[59] 6th brigade delivered on 16.06.2015 to unit in Ulan Ude.[60] 7th brigade delivered in November 2015 to the Southern Military District.[61] All scheduled 120 complexes.[62] 20th Separate Guards missile brigade - 5th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District (the brigade stationed in Spassk-Far, Primorye Territory) - in June 2016.[63] One more delivery in November 2016 to the Central MD.[64]
  •  Armenia - Several systems were displayed at the Independence Day parade rehearsal in September 2016. Two managers of the Russian military-industrial complex Rosoboronexport confirmed that four 9K720 Iskander systems were delivered to Armenia per CSTO arms agreement, thus making Armenia the first foreign state to have the missile system.[65][66][67]
  •  Syria
  •  Algeria



System components[edit]

An Iskander transporter-erector-launcher
9T250-1 Transporter and loader vehicle
Iskander missiles (right) and an OTR-21 Tochka missile (left) on static display

The full Iskander system includes[68]

  • missiles
  • transporter-erector-launcher vehicle (chassis of 8x8 MZKT-79306 ASTROLOG truck)[69]
  • 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[edit]

The system is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of point and area targets, including:[70]

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

Can hit strongly protected targets (bunkers)[16]

Comparable systems[edit]


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  2. ^ a b Iskander / SS-26 specs GlobalSecurity Retrieved on 11-15-08
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  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links[edit]