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Artillery: Russian Doomsday Missile
   Next Article → WARPLANES: Cold Warriors Load Up

October 7, 2008: Russia has been finding a ready market for weapons it was developing at the end of the Cold War, but had to suspend work on during the 1990s because of lack of money. One of the more popular of these now available weapons is the SS-26 (9M723K1, or "Iskander") ballistic missile. Syria, Kuwait, South Korea, India and the United Arab Emirates are all interested in buying some. The United States was so impressed by Iskander, that it has threatened economic retaliation on Russia if Syria got hold of Iskanders. Despite that,  the Russians are eager to make sales of the half million dollar missiles, as well as the transporter vehicle (from which the missiles are fired.) The Iskanders cost varies depending on which warhead and guidance system they were equipped with.

The Iskander finally completed its development in the last few years. The 3.8 ton missile has a range of 280 kilometers, and a 900 pound warhead. Russia sells several different types of warheads, including cluster munitions, thermobaric (fuel-air explosive) and electro-magnetic pulse (anti-radar, and destructive to electronics in general.) Guidance is very accurate, using GPS, plus infrared homing for terminal guidance. The warhead will land within 30 feet of the aim point. Iskanders are carried in a 20 ton 8x8 truck, which also provides a launch platform. There is also a reload truck that carries two missiles.

Another unique feature of Iskander is that it is not a traditional ballistic missile. That is, it does not fire straight up, leave the atmosphere, then come back down, following a ballistic trajectory. Instead, Iskander stays in the atmosphere and follows a rather flat trajectory. It is capable of evasive maneuvers and deploying decoys. This makes it more difficult for anti-missile systems to take it down. This is why the U.S. made so much noise when it looked like Syria might get some.

Russia is buying several dozen Iskanders for its own military. These versions have a longer range (400 kilometers) and more countermeasures (to interception). Russia will not provide details. Russia has admitted that it could use Iskander to destroy the U.S. anti-missile systems in a pre-emptive attack. Just in case Russia wanted to start World War III for some reason or another.

Russia developed the solid fuel Iskander to replace its Cold War era SS-23 battlefield ballistic missiles (which in turn had replaced SCUD). The SS-23 had to be withdrawn from service and destroyed by 1991, because the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty prohibited missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,300 kilometers. When post Cold War financial problems slowed down development of Iskander, this left Russia dependent on the shorter range (120 kilometers) SS-21 system, along with some aging SCUDS, for battlefield ballistic missile support. Russia used some of these older missiles against Chechen rebels in the 1990s.

Next Article → WARPLANES: Cold Warriors Load Up
  

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doggtag    South Korea wants Iskanders?   10/7/2008 8:40:58 AM
South Korea? Really?
 
2nd paragraph:
" The 3.8 ton missile has a range of 280 kilometers, and a 900 pound warhead.....
....Guidance is very accurate, using GPS, plus infrared homing for terminal guidance. The warhead will land within 30 feet of the aimpoint. "
 
Curious as to whether or not the South Koreans considered the ATACMS for their MLRS systems.
Depending on variant, the ATACMS can carry a cluster or unitary warhead (500-pound class) up to ranges of 300km.
Plus, an M270-series vehicle carries two ready rounds of ATACMS, as opposed to the SS-26 system only having a single round onboard.
 
Wonder what exactly would be the preferred target set that South Korea would use Iskanders for...?
 
(...and I'm curious that, with this level of international interest in the Iskander series,
maybe Lockheed Martin will further refine the ATACMS series into improved versions, as they're really the only western equivalent to Iskander, other than Israel's LORA, a similar diameter missile offering 400-600kg warheads, to ranges out near 300km also.
All sides have to watch as they build such systems approaching the 500km range,
wherein for their size, payload capabilities, and trajectory options
they can be considered in violation of land-based IRBM (intermediate range ballistic missiles) treaties...).
 
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Photon       10/7/2008 9:34:01 PM
ROK has already purchased ATACMS from the US by 2004:  110 of them.  ATACMS has a range of 300km.  Before than, ROK promised not to develop ballistic missiles in excess of 180km range by US-ROK bilateral treaty.  (ROK missile and nuke program vis-á-vis the US:  A rocky history back in the '70s.)  ROK does have necessary technology to develop and build its own ballistic missiles ... its missile technological base should be at least as good as that of India and Taiwan.
 
ROK interested in Russian ballistic missiles would be interesting.  I have already read some articles about ROK purchasing Russian technologies behind S-300 SAMs.  (ROK also wants to have the technological basis to develop its own  long-range SAMs, although they have a handful of Patriots already.)

Personally, I do not see much point in spending much on ballistic missiles beyond SRBMs, unless ROK has issues with neighbors other than DPRK.
 
Off-topic:  ROK should have never signed NPT:  Why bother with NPT while it has an uncertain neighbor across the DMZ?  (DPRK used to be a signatory of NPT, but its actions within the last 10+ years have shown that NPT is a lousy piece of paper to those who really wants to develop nuclear capabilities.)
 
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The-Great       10/8/2008 2:04:14 AM
Well the ROK does have issues with Japan, becuase of  island disputes which is why they are trying to become a naval power, by 2020, the DPRK and the ROK will not come to blows but Japan is another story, the old rattling of sabres has already began between the ROK and Japan. 
 
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nyetneinnon       10/8/2008 2:31:08 AM
Oh boy... here we go again.
 
This could set off arms races, like not seen since the bi-polar days. 
 
Things could get crazy very fast imo, if Poland for example would for some reason want to buy ATACMS to counter Iskanders aimed at it, against a future anti-missile base!  Heck, Kremlin could just deploy S-400/500 on its border with Belarus while they're at it and call it even!  Sheesh..
 
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jak267       10/8/2008 4:18:53 AM
Russia's not interested in being involved in an arms race - just profiting from selling weapons to those who are.
 
They don't care who they arm or what region they destabilize - until of course, their new friends become their new enemies.

 
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Photon       10/10/2008 11:16:27 PM

Well the ROK does have issues with Japan, becuase of  island disputes which is why they are trying to become a naval power, by 2020, the DPRK and the ROK will not come to blows but Japan is another story, the old rattling of sabres has already began between the ROK and Japan. 
Oh, well!  I guess ... 'different strokes for different folks!'  In case of Russia, an easy way to distract popular opinion is by playing up the 'evil Americans' and the 'glories and the heroics of the Soviet Union'.  In case of Japan and ROK, keep on diggin' into each other's respective mythical histories and keep territorial disputes as current as possible.
 
A classic example of 'a toad that is inside a water well'.  (It is a Korean proverb, in which all the toad can see is whatever that is visible within the mouth of the well.  He certainly cannot see anything outside that narrow angle.)  What they conveniently leave out is the fact that Japan and ROK have become major trading partners.  (You can say the same thing about Japan and China, China and ROK.)  If one of them gets hurt, the others will get hurt, too, but apparently their chauvinistic compatriots do not care about such down-to-earth issues.
 
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