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Iskander / SS-26

The road-mobile SS-X-26 is the second attempt to replace the `Scud', since the first attempt, the Oka SS-23 SPIDER, was eliminated under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The operational requirements for the SS-26 are probably similar to those of the original SS-23. One of the major questions concerning the program is the missile's range, which is almost certainly less than the 500 km range limit established by the INF Treaty. The SS-26 may include a longer range (greater than 400 km) variant for the Russian forces, and a shorter range (less than 300 km) variant for export.

The new TEL is probably based on the new BAZ-6909 family of trucks, first publicly displayed at a commercial transport show in Moscow in August 1995. Two missiles are carried on each launcher, though the delay between firing each round is unclear. The new TEL is apparently based on the the 9P71 Oka TEL, though the new SS- X-26 TEL has been designed with the INF Treaty in mind, with several external changes that clearly differentiate the two vehicles to prevent treaty compliance problems. The nose of the vehicle has been extended forward, the chassis lengthened, and the access door arrangement has been changes. The tactical parameters of the two vehicles are probably similar.

In 1996 Russian television reports depicted the first launch of the SS-X-26, which is a direct evolution of the SS-23 Oka. It appears probable that new features will be incorporated into the design. The SS-X-26 appears to have several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munition warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, a tactical earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electro- magnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions. Given the relatively small warhead, improved terminal precision is a major system requirement, which could be achieved by active terminal sensor such as a millimetre wave radar, satellite terminal guidance using GLOSNASS, an improved inertial platform, or some combination of these approaches.

As of 1999 it appeared that this system had entered operational service with the Russian Army.

The launch installation has two missiles with a range of 280 kilometers. Each missile has a 480 kilogram warhead consisting of 54 elements. The system can be used against small and large targets. The Iskander missile can easily overcome air defense systems. It's almost impossible to prevent a launch of an Iskander missile because of the system's mobility. Targets can be found not only by satellite and aircraft but also by a conventional intelligence center and by a soldier who directs artillery fire. Targets can also be found from photos, which will be put into a computer by means of a scanner. The self-direction device functions even in fog or darkness. Only the Iskander system can accomplish such tasks. The United States has tried to reconsider the missile technology control regime and here arises the question whether this may be an obstacle for the sale of the new missile abroad. Such missile systems as Iskander have a special place in the world weapons market. Even a small amount of such missiles drastically changes the balance of force in conflicts.

According to Nikolay Guschin, chief and senior designer of the Machinebuilding Design Office, the complex is meant ' for covertly preparing and launching effective missile strikes at small-size targets of particular importance. A specificity of this complex is the high level of automation in the pre-launch preparations little time required to make it ready, and the high precision of shooting.

Research carried out by specialists from the leading Russian military science centers has shown that the lskander-E missile complex is 5 to 8 times better than its foreign analogues in terms of the "effectiveness-cost" criterion. As for its tactical and technical characteristics, it also poses a great improvement on the existing Russian tactical missile complexes. Capable of accomplishing tasks connected with the use of non-nuclear warheads, it's the world's first complex equipped with two-missile launch installation. Weighing 3800 kilos each, controlled throughout the trajectory of their flight, equipped with various systems of correction and self-targeting, its missiles are capable of overcoming the enemy's anti-missile defences and hitting targets at a distance of 280 kilometers.

According to military experts, the lskander-E missile complex will serve as "determent weapon" in local conflicts, and as strategic arms for the countries with limited territory. Its great range of shooting making it possible to use it from the depth of one's own positions, and the brief time it can stay in its launch position make the complex virtually invulnerable to ordinary weapons.

The composition of the complex makes it possible to ensure the full cycle of its use in combat, including its combat control, information base, technical servicing and the training of its crews, without the involvement of additional remedies.


DIA Code Name SS-26
Nato Code Name: ?
Russian Designation: Iskander
Design Bureau: KBM Engineering
Inservice: 1999
Range: 300 Km
Stages: 1
Warhead: 480Kg - unitary or 10 Submutitions
Weight: 3,800 Kg
Fuel: Solid
Guidance: GPS/GLONASS/Inertial/  Possibly IR Terminal Homing

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