According to the national media, the Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) plans to create a new brigade of the Iskander-M missile systems within the Eastern military district. It will be equipped with ballistic and cruise munitions with a range below 500 km. It has been claimed that such a move is a response to the United States and Japan military strengthening in the area.
If such a fundamental decision is made, the new military unit will appear before the end of this year. At the end of December, the commander of the Eastern Military District (VVO), Colonel-General Alexander Chaiko claimed that this year the district would also receive long-range Tornado-S multiple launch rocket systems, Mi-28NM attack helicopters and fifth-generation Su-57 fighters. According to him, this would bring the share of modern weapons in the Far East to 56%.
The VVO will not be the only recipient of Iskanders this year. On January 24, the commander of the Central Military District, Colonel General Alexander Lapin, announced the district would be reinforced with two divisions of such missile systems in 2022.
In January 2019, the MoD officially presented the 9M729 cruise missile as the new Iskander-M munition with increased power, but remaining range of 480 km only to fit the INF Treaty restrictions. A launcher was specially developed for the new missile to accommodate not two, like conventional Iskander-M systems, but four.
In November 2019, the MoD announced the completion of rearmament of the army missile brigades. The troops received Iskander-M instead of obsolete Tochka-U complexes. The Iskander-M has been developed by the KBM Design bureau based in Kolomna near Moscow, High-Precision Weapons (HPW) holding subsidiary.
The Iskander load of ammunition includes five types of ballistic and two types of cruise missiles. The first ones quickly gain height of several tens of kilometers to fall on the target almost vertically, while performing maneuvers. In the final section of the flight, their speed approaches hypersonic. All this makes it difficult for warheads to be intercepted by anti-missile defense systems.
Cruise missiles approach the target at an extremely low altitude which impedes their detection and destruction by traditional anti-aircraft systems. The combination of two such different types of munitions makes defending against Iskander brigades a practically difficult task.(LAGUK-Media; Photo © HPW)