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Iskander-K

Cruise missile

Iskander-K

The Russian Iskander-K system carries nuclear-tipped R-500 cruise missiles

 
 
Country of origin Russia
Entered service 2013
Crew 3 men
Dimensions and weight
Number of missiles 2
Weight ~ 35 t
Length 13.07 m
Width 3.51 m
Height 3.45 m
Missile
Missile length ~ 6.2 m
Missile diameter 0.53 m
Wing span ~ 3.1 m
Missile weight 1 800 ~ 2 300 kg
Warhead weight 500 kg
Warhead type conventional, nuclear
Range of fire 490 km (?)
CEP ~ 5 m
 Chassis Mobility
Engine YaMZ-846 diesel
Engine power 500 hp
Maximum road speed 70 km/h
Range 1 000 km
Chassis Maneuverability
Gradient 45%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step ~ 0.6 m
Trench 2 m
Fording 1.4 m

 

   The Iskander-M is a short-range ballistic missile system, used by the Russian Army. Normally it carries cruise missiles with a maximum range of 400 km. However it has a secondary capability to launch R-500 intermediate-range cruise missiles (Western reporting name SSC-7). These carry less payload but has a much longer range. Once cruise missiles are loaded, the system is referred as Iskander-K. The letter "K" in the designation stands for "Krylataja", or "cruise".

   Development of the land-based R-500 missile commenced in 1996. It is based on a Soviet RK-55 cruise missile, which was about to enter service in 1987, but was cancelled due to an Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty. At some point Russians resumed development of this missile. The R-500 was test fired in 2007. This missile was adopted in 2009 and production commenced during the same year. The R-500 missiles with conventional warheads were first deployed in 2011. A first batch of 12 Iskander systems, capable of launching both ballistic missiles and cruise missiles was deployed in 2013. In 2017 the Iskander-K was first deployed with nuclear-tipped R-500 missiles.

   The R-500 cruise missiles are carried and launched in the same manner as Iskander's ballistic missiles. Each road mobile launcher can be equipped with two R-500 cruise missiles. Each missile can be targeted independently.

   Russian official sources claim that the R-500 missile, also known as 9M728, has a range of 490 km. It is more than 400 km range of the Iskander's standard short-range ballistic missile. Though at a cost of much lower payload. Some sources report that it might potentially have a range of 1 500 km. The R-500 carries a conventional 500 kg warhead, or nuclear warhead with a yield of around 10-50 kT. It is likely that there are several different conventional warheads, including cluster, fuel-air explosive, and bunker-busting. For a number of years Pentagon was warning Russia, that development and fielding of a land-based missile with ranges exceeding 500 km violates INF Treaty. Eventually this led the United States to withdraw from this treaty. The first Iskanders, armed with R-500 cruise missiles, were deployed operationally in 2017. The main role of the R-500 missiles is to strike the US ballistic missile shield components, as well as NATO air defense systems located in Europe.

   There is also a similar 3M-14 cruise missile, used by a Russian Navy's Kalibr system. These Russian sea-launched missiles were recently used against targets in Syria. Both missiles not only look similar, but are made by the same Novator company. The 9M728 is essentially a modified ground-launched version of the sea-launched 3M-14 cruise missile.

   A booster propels the missile from its container. In flight the wings are deployed. This cruise missile has a flight altitude of up to 6 km and follows terrain. In terminal phased it descends to a low altitude (50-150 meters), and maneuvers in order to overcome air defense systems.

   The R-500 missile has an astro-inertial navigation, but can also receive Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system update. The missile has a CEP of just around 5 meters. Most likely that these missiles are capable of hitting moving targets, as target coordination can be adjusted while the missile is in-flight.

   The Transport-Erector-Launcher (TEL) vehicle can launch its missiles R-500 missiles within 16 minutes from traveling, or 4 minutes from the highest readiness. The second missile can be launched in less than a minute once the first missile is launched.

   The TEL vehicle is based on Belarusian MZKT-7930 Astrolog 8x8 high mobility chassis. It is powered by the YaMZ-846 diesel engine, developing 500 hp. Vehicle can be airlifted by the An-124 transport aircraft.

   The TEL is supported by a reloading vehicle, based on the same 8x8 chassis. It carries two reload missiles. These can be either short-range ballistic missiles, or the R-500 cruise missiles. A missile battalion consists of 4 launcher vehicles, 4 reloading vehicles, command post vehicle, information preparation vehicle, maintenance and repair vehicle, and life support vehicle. The last 4 mentioned vehicles are based on KamAZ 6x6 military trucks.

 

Variants

 

   SSC-8, during development known as SSC-X-8, is a new Russian cruise missile system. In 2019, after years of denials, Russia acknowledged existence of a new nuclear missile, called the 9M729, and publicly revealed it. It is as extended-range version of the 9M728 with modified warhead and guidance systems. Western reporting name of this new system is SSC-8, while Russian designation of this cruise missile is unknown. Russian official sources claim that this missile has a range of 480 km. Though it this missile could potentially have a range of around 2 000-2 500 km and carries a low-yield nuclear warhead. Some sources estimate that its actual range could be up to 5 500 km. Russian officials have long said they could extend the reach of their Iskander systems with little difficulty. First test launch was made in 2008 and this missile passed state trials in 2014. This new missile is also carried and launched by the same Belarusian MZKT-7930 special wheeled chassis with 8x8 configuration. Though the launcher vehicle has a raised missile compartment at the rear, as it carries 4 missiles instead of 2. Externally the launcher vehicle resembles that of Club-M coastal defense missile system. By early 2019 Russia operated at least 64 of this missiles and a number of associated launcher vehicles. Due to development and fielding of this missile the United States withdrew from the 1987 INF treaty.

 

 

Iskander-K

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Iskander-K

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Iskander-K

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Iskander-K

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Iskander-K

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Iskander-K

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