In September 2004, at a meeting with senior defense officials reporting to PresidentVladimir Putin on the drafting of a defense budget for 2005, the Russian Defence MinisterSergei 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. 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".
In 2006, serial production of the Iskander-M Tactical Ballistic Missile System was launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army. The production cost of the missile system was reported in 2014 to have been slashed by 30%.
In November 2016, the Russian military announced that the modernisation of the Iskander-M System was under way. 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.
The United States has argued that the cruise missile version SSC-8 R-500 Iskander-K is in violation of the INF Treaty because its estimated range is beyond 500 km.
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. Another unique feature of Iskander-M  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.
The Russian Iskander-M travels at a hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) and an altitude of 50 km. The Iskander-M weighs 4,615 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 (when coupled with optical homing head; 30-70 m in autonomous application 
). 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.
Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts. It is intended to use conventional or thermonuclear weaponwarheads for the engagement of small and area targets (both moving and stationary), such as hostile fire weapons, air and anti-missile defenses, 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) was test fired, the R-500 cruise missile, with a range of applications up to 2000 km or more. Presently, "Iskander-M" system, outfitted with cruise and ballistic missiles, is being delivered to the military. In 2013, army missile brigades first received missiles equipped with a new control system.
The system can be transported by various vehicles, including airplanes.
The maximum power for the nuclear warhead is 50 kiloton TNT (Iskander-M).
Deployment and combat history
The first documented use of the Iskander has been in the Russo-Georgian War. After the death of Dutch journalist Stan Storimans on August 12, 2008 in Gori an investigation by the Dutch government revealed that a single, 5 mm fragment from an anti-personnel sub-munition, propelled by an Iskander missile, killed the Dutch journalist.
In November 2008, the Russian president Dmitry Medvedev in his first annual address to the Federal Assembly of Russia announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles 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. On 17 September 2009, US presidentBarack Obama announced the cancellation of the U.S. missile defense project in Poland and the Czech Republic. The following day, Moscow indicated it might in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad; a few days later, the decision not to deploy was confirmed by Medvedev. 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.
In December 2013, President Vladimir Putin denied Western media reports that Russia had deployed Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Oblast.
According to Russian media reports, 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. 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.
In early February 2018, Shamanov confirmed that Russia had deployed an unidentified number of Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad region. Days prior, the local military commanders said that the "park zones" for Iskander missiles deployment had been completed in the Kaliningrad region, as well as in North Ossetia.
Russia and elsewhere
In September 2009, the Russian military announced plans to deploy Iskander missiles in all the military districts of Russia "in a short time".
In June 2013, it was revealed that Russia had deployed several Iskander-M ballistic missile systems in Armenia at undisclosed locations. In 2016, it was reported by media that Armenia had received a divizion of Iskander missiles.
In November 2014, US General Breedlove stated that Russian forces "capable of being nuclear" had been moved into Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula which the Russian Federation had annexed in March, and the following month Ukrainian Armed Forces announced that Russia had deployed a nuclear-capable Iskander division in the territory. Russian Foreign Ministry officials declared the right to deploy nuclear weapons in the peninsula, which is generally recognized as part of Ukraine, in December 2014 and June 2015.
In March 2016, at least one Iskander system was reportedly deployed at Russia's Hmeimim airbase in Syria. In January 2017 an Israeli company claimed satellite photography confirmed the Syrian deployment.
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.
Variant for the Russian Armed Forces with two 9M723 quasi ballistic missiles with published range 415 km, rumoured 500 km. Speed Mach 6-7, flight altitude up to 6–50 km, nuclear capable stealth missile, controlled at all stages, not ballistic flight path. Immediately after the launch and upon approach to the target, the missile performs intensive maneuvering to evade anti-ballistic missiles. The missile constantly maneuvers during flight as well.
(K stands for Krylataya or "Winged") Variant intended to launch various types of cruise missiles. At present, it includes the following missiles:
9M728 (SSC-7) also known as R-500 – flight altitude up to 6 km, published range up to 500 km although it may be higher and automatic adjustment in the way, follow of terrain relief in flight. The missile is evolved from 3M10, 3M54/3M14 and Kh-101/102 missiles and can be launched also by the Iskander-M.
9M729 (SSC-8) – new long-range missile that is reportedly land-based version of the 3M14 (SS-N-30) Caliber-NK missile complex with a range between 300–3,400 miles (480–5,470 km) and may be based even on the air-launched Kh-101 cruise missile with a range over 5,500 kilometres (3,400 mi).
Currently there are 7 different types of ballistic and cruise missiles for both variants of the Iskander missile system.
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.
However, the export variant is known as Iskander-E and its first foreign operator became Armenia, a Russian ally and a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Iskander-E has a maximum range up to 280 km and is fitted with a simplified inertial guidance system. The Iskander-E can also use missiles that carry warheads with cluster munitions.
Russia – 136 units (11 rocket brigades with 12 units each, and one unit with 4 units at Kapustin Yar). In service with the Western Military District since 2010. Missiles are also deployed in Armenia. Two deliveries in 2013. 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. One more delivery in July 2014. Missile brigade, stationed in the Orenburg region, rearmed on "Iskander-M" on 20 November 2014. 6th brigade delivered on 16 June 2015 to unit in Ulan Ude (presumably the 103rd Rocket Brigade). Seventh brigade delivered in November 2015 to the Southern Military District. All scheduled 120 complexes. 20th Independent Guards Rocket Brigade – 5th Red Banner Army of the Eastern Military District (the brigade stationed in Spassk-Dalniy, Primorsky Krai) – in June 2016. One more delivery in November 2016 to the Central MD. Next delivery conducted in 2nd quarter of 2017. The contract for two more brigades and cruise missiles for the system signed in August 2017 will increase the total number of rocket brigades to 13. A brigade set of Iskander-M tactical ballistic missile systems has been delivered to the personnel of a missile large unit in the Western Military District in late 2017.
Armenia – 25 units. 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, a country in military union with Russia, the first foreign state to have the missile system. In February 2017, the Defence minister of Armenia told a Russian mass media outlet that the Iskander missiles stationed in Armenia and shown at the military parade in September 2016 were owned and operated by the Armed Forces of Armenia.
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