New batch of Russian Iskander-M missiles handed over to Belarus with more expected

New batch of Russian Iskander-M missiles handed over to Belarus with more expected

According to a tweet by IntelDrop on August 30, 2023, Russia has delivered a new batch of at least 10 Iskander-M ballistic missile vehicles to Belarus. These vehicles were transported by train from Kapustin Yar in the Astrakhan region of Russia to the Asipovichy station in the Mohyla region of Belarus. Reports indicate that the Iskander-M ballistic missile systems have been integrated into the Belarusian Armed Forces, and additional shipments of Iskander missiles are anticipated to arrive in Belarus.92a1c625 e8a8 44b0 bd70 7e3ed337bd47

Video footage has shown that the train platforms carried 4 TELs 9P78-1 (Transporter Erector Launchers), 4 loaders 9T250-1, and 2 command and control vehicles 9C552. Kapustin Yar is a site within the Russian village of the same name, serving as the 4th state central training facility for the Russian Federation, primarily for missile testing.

This development occurs within a context of heightened tensions involving Russia, Belarus, and NATO members, including Finland and Poland. In response to Finland’s formal entry into NATO, Russia announced that it had supplied Iskander-M missile systems to Belarus, as reported by the Army Recognition editorial team on April 11, 2023.

In response to the presence of Wagner mercenary fighters in Belarus, aligned with Russia, Poland has taken action to relocate some of its military units closer to the Belarusian border. This strategic shift is taking place against a backdrop of increased military activities and geopolitical pressures. During a televised Security Council session, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a firm warning, stating that any aggression against Belarus would be regarded as an attack on Russia and could lead to significant consequences.

Sources suggest that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously discussed plans to enable Belarusian Iskander launchers to deploy Russian nuclear-equipped missiles. Discussions also included the possibility of establishing a nuclear storage facility in Belarus and upgrading certain Belarusian military aircraft, such as the Su-24 or Su-25, to carry nuclear bombs. If these plans were to materialize, it would signify a significant development, as it would mark the first instance since the Cold War of Russia equipping another nation with nuclear launch capabilities. This move has raised concerns and drawn comparisons, given Russia’s criticism of U.S. nuclear sharing arrangements with NATO allies.

On July 28, 2023, the Army Recognition editorial team reported the construction of a new garage facility in Belarus, suspected to house the Iskander-M missile launchers received from Russia. These launchers are believed to have the capability to carry nuclear warheads.

However, despite satellite imagery revealing these developments, there has been no visual confirmation of the alleged plans, and intelligence reports from Western sources have not confirmed Russia’s deployment of nuclear warheads in Belarus. Currently, it is believed that Russia stores its non-strategic nuclear warheads in centralized facilities within its own territory.

Belarus Iskander 925 002

The 9K720 Iskander (NATO reporting name: SS-26 Stone) is a mobile short-range ballistic missile system produced and deployed by the Russian military. It achieves terminal hypersonic speeds of 2,100–2,600 m/s (Mach 6–7) and can reach altitudes of 50 km, covering distances of up to 500 km. This missile system was developed to replace the OTR-21 Tochka systems in the Russian military.

The Iskander can be equipped with various conventional warheads, including cluster munitions, fuel-air explosive enhanced-blast warheads, high-explosive fragmentation warheads, earth penetrators for bunker penetration, electromagnetic pulse devices for anti-radar missions, and nuclear warheads. As of September 2017, it was reported that Iskander has access to at least seven missile types, including cruise missiles.

The Iskander-M system employs two solid-propellant single-stage guided missiles, model 9M723K1. These missiles are fully controlled throughout their flight paths and are equipped with inseparable warheads. The mobility of the launch platform makes interception difficult.

Targets can be identified through satellite imagery, aircraft, conventional intelligence centers, artillery observers, or scanned aerial photographs. Missiles can be retargeted during flight to engage moving targets. A distinctive feature of Iskander-M is its optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled via encrypted radio transmission, including from AWACS or UAVs. The missile’s onboard computer receives target images, locks onto the target using its sight, and descends toward it at supersonic speed.

The missile’s thrust vector control (TVC) during the boost phase is achieved using graphite vanes, following a layout similar to V-2 and Scud series tactical ballistic missiles. There are speculations that the missile follows a quasi-ballistic trajectory, executes evasive maneuvers in the terminal flight phase, and deploys decoys to penetrate missile defense systems. The missile remains within the atmosphere, maintaining a relatively flat trajectory while being controlled throughout the flight using gas-dynamic and aerodynamic control surfaces, including small fins designed to minimize radar detection.

The Russian Iskander-M travels at a hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) and reaches an altitude of 50 km. With a weight of 4,615 kg, it carries a warhead weighing between 710–800 kg, boasting a range of 500 km. The missile demonstrates a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–7 meters when utilizing an optical homing head, and 30–70 meters in autonomous applications.

The Iskander is designed as a tactical missile system for use in conflicts at the theater level. It can employ conventional or thermonuclear warheads to engage both small and large targets, including hostile artillery, air and anti-missile defenses, command centers, communication nodes, and concentrations of troops, among other objectives. The missile’s area of effect from a single warhead is said to cover 25,000 square meters, and its precision enables it to strike targets as small as a small window from considerable distances, ranging in the tens of kilometers.

In 2007, a new missile for the system, the R-500 cruise missile, was tested, boasting a range of up to 2,000 km or more. In cases of nuclear armament, the warhead’s yield is estimated to range from 5 to 50 kilotonnes of TNT (21 to 209 TJ).

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