SS-26 (Iskander)

The SS-26 Iskander is a short-range, road-mobile, solid-fueled ballistic missile system. Development began in the Soviet Union during the early 1970’s as replacement for the ‘Scud B’. The Iskander program was accelerated when the OTR-23 was banned by the 1987 INF treaty, resulting in a lack of a modern theater missile system. The Iskander has earned the nickname of the “Son of Scud”.

Iskander At a Glance

Originated From: Russia
Possessed By: Russia
Alternate Name: SS-26,Stone, Tender, 9M720, 9M723
Class: Short-range Ballistic Missile (SRBM)
Basing: Road-mobile
Length: 7.3 m
Diameter: .92 m
Launch Weight: 3,000-4,020 kg
Payload: Single warhead
Warhead: HE, submunitions, FAE, HE penetration, Nuclear
Propulsion: Single-stage liquid propellant
Range: 400-500 km
Status: Operational
In Service: 2007

iskanderThe Iskander has two variants, the ‘Tender’ or ‘Iskander-M’ for the Russian Federation military and the ‘Iskander-E’ version for export. The Iskander is 7.3 m long, 0.92 m in diameter, and has a launch weight of 3,800 to 4,020 kg. The Tender has a range of 400 km and a payload of approximately 700 kg. The Iskander-E has a reduced range of 280 km, and payload of about 480 kg. Both systems employ a single separating warhead equipped with a terminal guidance system, though the accuracy of the missile depends upon which system is used. An inertial guidance system would likely give an accuracy of around 200 m CEP while inertial guidance coupled with a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) or equivalent system would likely provide about 50 m CEP. The use of the inertial navigation, GPS, and active radar or electro-optical sensors provides an accuracy of 10 to 30 m CEP. Its warheads can be equipped with high explosives (HE), submunitions, fuel-air explosives or an HE penetrator. It is also capable of delivering nuclear payloads. During the terminal phase, the missile is reportedly capable of maneuvering and can release decoys. 1

The Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts. It is a strike system developed to attack key military and support units. It was designed as a replacement for the OTR-23 which exceeded the 500 km Intermediate Nuclear Force (INF) treaty restriction on range. The export version was placed under the more rigorous 300 km restriction of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). A fully formed Russian Iskander brigade consists of 12 launchers. 2

The SS-26’s accuracy and variety of warhead types make it an extremely flexible battlefield system. It was designed to be able to destroy both stationary and moving targets, specifically SAM sites, short-range missile launchers, airfields, ports, command and communication centers, factories and hardened defensive targets.

The TEL vehicle carries two missiles and is armored with a plated sliding roof for the protection of the missile and its three operators. The missiles are resistant to the effects of outside temperatures (from -50° to +50° C), as well as offering Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) protection, enabling the missile to be fired in almost any environment. It is amphibious and can travel at 70 km/h (43 mph) and does not require refueling for 1,100 km (684 miles). Each TEL vehicle contains all the requirements to operate completely independently. Reload vehicles, each carrying two missiles and a crane, enable prolonged battlefield operations. 3

The Iskander entered development in the early 1970s as a replacement for the ‘Scud B’ system. Following the withdrawal of the OTR-23 missile in 1987, the development of the Iskander began in earnest. 4 The first flight test of the Iskander took place in Oct 1995 and was scheduled for 1998-1999 production. Funding limitations delayed the final test program; however, by 2003 it was reported that final testing was complete, though it was not clear that the missile had yet been ordered for military service. 13 flight tests were completed by August of 2004. 5 The Iskander has been also been deployed to Kaliningrad and potentially to Syria. 6

The export version of the Iskander was first displayed in 1999 and it was reported that the UAE was a potential buyer, though the possibility of sale has not been confirmed. In March of 2001, it was reported that Iran was potentially negotiating a purchase. Syria was reported as a potential buyer in 2005. Russian officials have denied the reports regarding Iran and Syria. 7 In 2014, there were reports of delays in the export of the program due to supply shortages. 8

In 2016, Russia announced plans to deploy Iskander-M missiles to Kaliningrad, posing a threat to NATO forces in Poland, the Baltic States, as well as Sweden. Russian completed its deployment to the enclave in October, a deployment which the Russian government has declared “permanent.” 9


Sources

  1. James C. O’Halloran, “Iskander,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 80-82.
  2. Stefan Forss, The Russian Operational-Tactical Iskander Missile System, (National Defense University Department of Strategic and Defense Studies, Helsinki, 2012) Series 4, Working Paper No. 42, Accessed on https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/84362/StratL4_42w.pdf.
  3. James C. O’Halloran, “Iskander,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 80-82.
  4. Stefan Forss, The Russian Operational-Tactical Iskander Missile System, (National Defense University Department of Strategic and Defense Studies, Helsinki, 2012) Series 4, Working Paper No. 42, Accessed on https://www.doria.fi/bitstream/handle/10024/84362/StratL4_42w.pdf.
  5. James C. O’Halloran, “Iskander,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 80-82.
  6. Dave Majumdar, “Introducing the Iskander: The Russian Missile NATO Fears,” The National Interest, April 1, 2016, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/introducing-the-iskander-the-russian-missile-nato-fears-15653.
  7. James C. O’Halloran, “Iskander,” in IHS Jane’s Weapons: Strategic, (IHS; 2015). 80-82.
  8. TASS, “No Iskander missile system export until 2016 — design bureau,” August 13, 2014, Accessed on http://tass.ru/en/russia/744772.
  9. Defense24, “Missile Defence Base in Redzikowo Targeted by the Iskanders from the Kaliningrad Oblast,” October 18, 2016, http://www.defence24.com/473498,missile-defence-base-in-redzikowo-targeted-by-the-iskanders-from-the-kaliningrad-oblast#.