Russian Iskander M Missile Deployment in Syria


Satellite imagery analysis by Imagesat International (ISI) intelligence experts revealed deployment of Iskandar (SS-26 “Stone”) advanced missile system vehicles as a part of the Russian deployment at Hmeimim airbase in Latakia, Syria.

A single Iskander Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) was first spotted in footage broadcast by Russia’s Zvezda TV channel in March, 2016.

In the ISI images, two Iskandar Vehicles are clearly visible at a logistic site beside the northeastern part of the runway.

Those two elements are most probably SS-26 Trans-Loading vehicles (Transloaders). The Iskander missile system elements are mounted on 8×8 MZKT-7930 chassis.

The satellite imagery is the first visual evidence of the system presence in Syria.

This geospatial evidence approves several unconfirmed reports of the presence of Iskandar missiles in Syria and details the system’s deployment site.

With an effective range of 500 km the Iskander-M missiles positioned at Hmeimim can hit any Syrian rebel position throughout Syria, and part of the areas controlled by Daesh (ISIS), including Raqqa and Palmyra, but not Dir E-Zor and Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border. Map: Defense-Update and ISW.

According to high-resolution images taken by ISI’s EROS-B satellite, the analysts assume the system is routinely deployed under camouflage nets at a nearby unpaved compound.

Most probably, heavy rain and floods forced the re-deployment of those two elements to the location in which they were revealed by ISI.

Further analysis uncovered two additional elements covered by camouflage nets deployed at the compound, which are most probably part of the Iskandar system.

In March 2016 press reports indicated Russia had deployed Iskander missile systems to its Hmeimim Air Base in Syria, but it was unclear these vehicles carried ballistic or cruise missiles.

Russia has repeatedly used sea-launched and air-launched cruise missiles in supporting the Syrian Army in its battle against rebels, but so far refrained from using ballistic missiles.

The Syrian regime has used ballistic missiles of all types, through the five-year conflict and have asked Moscow to send the export variant – Iskander-E but there were no indications such shipments were made.

From its base in Hmeimim the strike range of the SS-26 system covers the entire area of Syria, In service with the Russian Ground Forces since 2006 the 9K720 Iskander-M system carries two short-range tactical ballistic missiles.

Risultati immagini per 9K720 Iskander-M system

Each missile carries a warhead of 480-700 kg.

Various warheads are available, including penetrating high explosives (HE), fragmenting HE, fuel-air explosives, and submunitions. The Russians have also developed a nuclear warhead for this type.


Iskander-M has a range of 400-500 km (depending on the warhead used).

It uses several guidance methods, including inertial, Glonass and scene matching techniques to achieve very high hit accuracy (4-7 meters).

Moscow often emphasizes the deployment of these weapon systems, particularly in the Kaliningrad enclave in the Baltic Sea, where it is considered mainly as a political deterrent move against Europe.

Additional missile launchers could be parked in these protected positions near the Hmeimim airbase. Photo: Imagesat


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 an inseparable 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, by an artillery observer or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in the case of engaging mobile targets.

Another unique feature of Iskander-M  is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission, including such as those 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.

Boost phase thrust vector control (TVC) is accomplished by graphite vanes similar in layout to the V-2 and Scud series tactical ballistic missiles.

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.

The missile is controlled during the whole flight with gas-dynamic and aerodynamic control surfaces. It uses a small scattering surface, special coatings and small size projections to reduce its radar signature.

The Russian Iskander-M travels at hypersonic speed of 2100–2600 m/s (Mach 6–7) at a height of 50 km.

The Iskander-M weighs 4615 kg, carries a warhead of 710–800 kg, has a range of 500 km and achieves a circular error probable (CEP) of 5–7 meters.

During flight it can maneuver at different altitudes and trajectories and can turn at up to 20 to 30 G to evade anti-ballistic missiles.

For example, in one of the trajectory modes it can dive at the target at 90 degrees at the rate of 700–800 m/s performing anti-ABM maneuvers.

The missile is controlled in all phases.

Iskander has achieved sufficient accuracy, range and reliability (ability to penetrate defenses) to function as an alternative to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in the face of superior enemy fighters and air defenses.

Training and competence requirements are much lower than for normal air force assets such as 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 or nuclear 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.

In 2007, a new missile for the system (and launcher), the R-500 (ru) (range of applications up to 2000 km and more) cruise missile, was test fired.

Now complex “Iskander-M” is transmitted to the troops complete with cruise and ballistic missiles.

In 2013, army missile brigades first received missiles equipped with a new control system.

When approaching the target false targets and small jammers separate from the rocket.

The missile uses stealth technology.

Iskander-M also carries a complex of electronic warfare jamming devices, both passive and active, for the suppression of the enemy’s radar.

The system can be transported by any means of transport, not excluding airplanes.

The maximum power for the nuclear warhead is 50 kiloton TNT (Iskander-M).


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