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This article refers to the Russian-made missile. For the Abkhazmarker writer, see Fazil Iskander. Iskandar is also the Arabic version of the name Alexander, after Alexander the Great.

The 9K720 Iskander (NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is a mobile theater ballistic missile system produced and deployed by Russiamarker.


In 1996, the first launch of the Iskander was depicted on Russian television. The road-mobile Iskander was the second attempt to replace the Scud missile since the first attempt, the Oka, which was eliminated under the INF Treaty. The Iskander appeared to have several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions warhead, a fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warhead, an earth penetrator for bunker busting and an electro-magnetic pulse device for anti-radar missions.

In September 2004, at a meeting with senior defense officials reporting to then-President Vladimir Putin on the drafting of a defense budget for 2005, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov spoke about the completion of static tests of a new tactical missile system called the Iskander. He said that in 2005, the system would go into quantity production 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 the Iskander-M Tactical Ballistic Missile System launched, and the system was adopted by the Russian army.


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 a nonseparable 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, or by a soldier who directs artillery fire. Targets can also be located from aerial photos scanned into the computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in case of engaging mobile targets. Another unique feature of Iskander-M (not Iskander-E) is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission, including such 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.

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.

Iskander has achieved accuracy, range and reliability (ability to penetrate defences) that constitutes an alternative approach to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in face of superior enemy fighters and air defenses. Training and competence requirements are much lower than for normal air force assets like a fighter bomber squadron utilizing guided bombs.

Iskander is a tactical missile system designed to be used in theater level conflicts. It is intended to use conventional 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. It offers a high probability of fire mission accomplishment in hostile active countermeasures environments, a high probability of failure-proof functioning of the missile during its launch preparation and in flight, automatic computation and input of missile flight missions by the launcher devices, high tactical maneuverability and strategic mobility owing to transportability of the system vehicles by all types of transport and long service life and ease of operation.

In 2007, a new missile for the system (and launcher), the R-500 Iskander-K (K stands for krylataya or "winged") cruise missile, was test fired.


  • Iskander-M – version for Russian armed forces. Range: 400 km with a potential for extension to INF Treaty violating 500 km.
  • Iskander-E – export version, specially designed to meet MTCR restrictions. Range: ~280 km.

Deployment and combat history

According to the Moscow Centre for Strategy and Technology Analysis, the Iskander-M system was combat-tested in the 2008 South Ossetia war with Georgiamarker and it proved highly effective in destroying military targets and infrastructure. Quoting unconfirmed reports, Moscow Defense Brief says that it was an Iskander missile that inflicted the "infamous", high precision strike on the Georgian Separate Tank Battalion base in Gorimarker. An Iskander missile also made a direct hit on the arms depot, causing it to explode and inflicting extensive damage on the tank battalion. Russian officials have not admitted to using the Iskander missile against Georgia, but unofficial reports testify to the high effectiveness of the Iskander missiles, as one of the most devastating and accurate weapons in the Russian arsenal. Georgian authorities later claimed that none of the targeted areas had any military installations or troops formations at the time of attacks; and the Iskander missiles were fired at civilian areas, including Baku-Supsa Oil Pipeline.

The Dutch government's investigation concluded that a single, 5 mm bullet from an anti-personnel submunition, 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.

In November 2008, during President Medvedev's first state of the nation speech, he stated that Russia would deploy Iskander missiles to Russia's western district of Kaliningradmarker "to neutralize, if necessary, a NATOmarker missile defense system." However, on September 17, 2009, US president Barack Obama announced the cancellation of the US missile defence project in Poland and the Czech Republic. Following the announcement, on September 26 Medvedev stated in a press conference that he would in turn cancel the plans to deploy Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad.

On September 29, 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, Iskander systems would be stationed in every defence district in Russia, with exception to Kaliningrad.


  • - Adopted by the Russian Army in 2006. Russia is planning to equip at least five missile brigades of Iskander-M complexes by 2016.

Possible future operators

  • - Early reports said Belarus planned to purchase a brigade of Iskander-E as a pro-Russian deterrence weapon to counter the proposed NATO missile shield in Central Europe. Belarus later denied that it was negotiating with Russia about placing the missile system inside its borders as a counter to the U.S. missile-shield project, but Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said he’s planning to buy the weapons for the Belarusian army regardless. In 2009, it was reported that Belarus was selling Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Iran.

  • - President Bashar al-Assad told a Russian newspaper that he would like to revive a deal to import Russian Iskander ballistic missiles which have generationally superior targeting capabilities to Scud missiles. Russia said it would consider selling Syria weapons but stopped short of agreeing to the request.
  • - In September 2009, President Chavez said that the army will soon take delivery with 300km range Russian missiles. The type was not confirmed, but it's very similar to Iskander-E.
  • The United Arab Emiratesmarker, Malaysiamarker and Indiamarker are "very interested" in obtaining the Iskander-E system, according to Nikolai Dimidyuk, a director of Russian state-owned arms trader Rosoboronexport. He added that Russia will also seek to export the Iskander-E to Algeriamarker, Kuwaitmarker, Singaporemarker, Vietnammarker, and South Koreamarker.



  • Manufacturer: KB Mashynostroyeniya (KBM, Kolomnamarker)
  • Launch range:
    • maximum: 500 km (Iskander-M, unofficial), 280 km (export version)
    • minimum: 50 km
  • Accuracy:
    • 30 - 70 m (export version Iskander-E without homing system)
    • 5 - 7 m with terminal phase optoelectronic homing system (Iskander-M)
  • time to launch: up to 4 min from highest readiness, up to 16 min from march
  • Interval between launches: less than a minute
  • Operating temperature range: -50°C to +50°C
  • Burnout Velocity: ~2100 m/s
  • Number of missiles:
    • on 9P78E launcher: 2 (export version)
    • on 9T250E transloader: 2
  • assigned service life: 10 years (Iskander-E)
  • Crew: 3 (launcher truck)

System components

The full Iskander system includes
  • missiles;
  • transporter-erector-launcher vehicle (chassis of 8x8 MAZmarker-79306 ASTROLOG truck);
  • Transporter and loader vehicle (chassis of 8x8 MAZmarker-79306 ASTROLOG truck);
  • Command and staff vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck);
  • Information preparation station vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck);
  • Maintenance and repair vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck);
  • Life support vehicle (chassis of KAMAZ six wheel truck);
  • Depot equipment set;
  • set of equipment for TEL training class;
  • set of equipment for CSV training class;
  • Training posters;
  • Training missile mock-up.

Intended targets

The system is intended to use conventional warheads for the engagement of point and area targets, including:
  • hostile fire weapons (missile systems, multiple launch rocket systems, long-range artillery pieces);
  • air and missile defense weapons, especially stationary;
  • fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft at airfields;
  • command posts and communications nodes;
  • troops in concentration areas;
  • critical civilian infrastructure facilities.

Comparable systems


  • Russia's Arms Catalog 2004

External links

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