By Arthur Dominic J. Villasanta , | April 19, 2017
Iskander-M on its TEL.
Russia will definitely deploy theater ballistic missiles to the Russian-held territory of Kaliningrad bordering both Poland and Lithuania and will upgrade its 9K720 Iskander-M ballistic missile system to be sent to this exclave.
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The Iskander-M systems bound for Kaliningrad will receive improved fire control systems to allow them to better counter the anti-ballistic missiles of the U.S. Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system now deployed to Romania. A second Aegis Ashore installation will open in Poland in 2018.
Aegis Ashore includes SPY-1 radars and a battery of Standard Missile-3s. The latter consists of the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 mid-course interceptors and the RIM-156 Standard Missile 2 Block IV (SM-2 Block IV) terminal-phase interceptors developed by Raytheon.
An upgraded version of the Iskander-M will be developed in the next decade, said Sergey Chemezov, general director of Russia's state-owned arms maker, the Rostec Corporation. Iskander-M is the version used by the Russian Armed Forces.
The current version of the Iskander-M is capable of hitting targets 500 km distant. Modernization efforts will focus on developing electronic countermeasures that either blind an anti-ballistic missile completely or cause it to deviate from its intended trajectory.
This being the case, Russia will improve the guidance system of Iskander-M and improve its defenses against the latest U.S. and NATO jamming technologies. Iskander-M, however, has never seen action against an anti-ballistic missile system such as Aegis Ashore or the MIM-104 Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) system.
This has led some Russian military experts to doubt if Iskander can live up to the hype about it being generated by Russian state-owned media. One of the media claims is that Iskander is "un-interceptable."
The interceptor arming Iskander is designated 9M723K1. This is a solid-propellant, single-stage guided missile that can be re-targeted during flight. It travels at a speed of Mach 7 (8,600 km/h) and can reach an altitude of 50 km
"Any discussions about the possibility of contemporary systems countering the Iskander-M miss the point," said Col. Mikhail Khodaryonok, a Russian military expert.
"Russians love to describe the system as a unique weapon that has no equals, but it's not entirely clear what such claims are based on."
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