9K720 Iskander

9K720 Iskander
SS-26 Stone

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
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
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 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][9][10] The first successful launch occurred in 1996.[11]

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 launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army.[1] The cost of the rocket decreased by 30% in 2014.[12] A number of countries were attempting to secure arms deals for the Iskander system, beginning in 2011, with the most likely contenders being China, India and South Korea.[11]


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.[9] Another unique feature of Iskander-M [13] 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. 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 a small scattering surface, special coatings and small size projections to reduce its radar signature.[14]

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. 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. 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 performing anti-ABM maneuvers.[7][15] The missile is controlled in all phases.[16]

Iskander has achieved sufficient accuracy, range and reliability (ability to penetrate defenses) 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.

Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts.[17] 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 (range of applications up to 2000 km and more[18]) cruise missile, was test fired.[19] 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.[20]

When approaching the target false targets and small jammers separate from the rocket.[21] The missile uses stealth technology.[18] Iskander-M also carries a complex of electronic warfare jamming devices, both passive and active, for the suppression of the enemy's radar.[22][23]

The system can be transported by any means of transport, not excluding airplanes.[24]

The maximum power for the nuclear warhead is 50 kiloton TNT (Iskander-M).[25]

Deployment and combat history

According to the Moscow reports, the Moscow Defense Brief stated that an Iskander missile was used for a high precision strike on the Georgian Separate Tank Battalion base in Gori, destroying 28 tanks. Russian officials have denied using of the Iskander missile against Georgia but official reports testify to the high effectiveness of the Iskander missiles, as one of the most devastating and accurate weapons in the Russian arsenal.[26] The Dutch government's investigation claims that a single, 5 mm fragment from an anti-personnel sub-munition, that was propelled by an Iskander missile, killed Dutch journalist Stan Storimans in Gori, which was home to various military targets and had been almost completely evacuated before the bombardment.[27]

In November 2008, the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev stated in his first state of the nation speech, that Russia would deploy Iskander missiles to Russia's western district of Kaliningrad "to neutralize, if necessary, a NATO missile defense system."[28][29] On 17 September 2009, US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of the US missile defense project in Poland and the Czech Republic.[30] Following the announcement, on 26 September, Medvedev stated in a press conference that he would in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.[31] According to Stratfor.com e-mails from 2009 there are a number of Iskander brigades operational.[32]

In June 2013, it was revealed that Russia had deployed several Iskander-M ballistic missile systems in Armenia at undisclosed locations throughout the country.[33]

In March 2016, at least one Iskander system was deployed to the Russian airbase Hmeimim in Syria.[34]


On 29 September 2009, the Russian military announced plans to set up an extensive network of Iskander missiles throughout the country as part of the broader military reforms underway. According to General Vladimir Boldyrev (rtd.), Iskander systems would be stationed in every military district in Russia but not in Kaliningrad.[35] On 23 November 2011, Medvedev again said that Russia may deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region as part of Russia’s reaction to the United States' reformulated missile shield plans.[36]

In December 2013, Russia disclosed that the Iskander missile system had been deployed in the Western Military District.[37] In March 2015, there were reports in Russian media that Russia had deployed Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.[38] In October 2016, there were again reports that the missile system had been deployed in Kaliningrad. Poland called the situation "very alarming".[39]

According to Russian Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma Vladimir Shamanov the transfer of missile systems "Iskander-M" in the Kaliningrad region was made to counter a possible threat from the appearance in Europe of US missile defense facilities: "These missiles are primarily directed against the objects that disturb the balance, harmony, and who delivered or will be put in the foreseeable future in the framework of the so-called missile defense."[40] [41]


Currently the system includes 5 ballistic and 1 cruise missiles.[45]

Export version

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) [46][47]





System components

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[64]

Intended targets

The system is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of point and area targets, including:[66]

Can hit strongly protected targets (bunkers)[14]

Comparable systems


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  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links

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