9K720 Iskander-M (SS-26 Stone) - Program
There are 4 launch systems for each battalion, with 16 missiles each battalion. According to one acccount, by late 2007, a missile battalion on combat duty in the North Caucasus military district had been fully equipped with Iskander-M, and another battalion would receive the system in 2008. Another report suggested that by late 2008 Russia was forming a brigade of Iskander-M SRBM systems, with longer ranges and heavier payloads than the export [Iskander-E] version. A different report stated that there was known to be only one battalion of Iskanders (two batteries with two systems each) in the Armed Forces in late 2008. Russia is planning to equip at least five missile brigades with Iskander-M complexes by 2016.
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 appeared probable that new features will be incorporated into the design. The SS-X-26 appeared to have several different conventional warheads, including a cluster munitions 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 was a major system requirement, which could be achieved by active terminal sensor such as millimeter wave radar, satellite terminal guidance using GLOSNASS, an improved inertial platform, or some combination of these approaches.
As of 1999 there were suggestions that this system had entered operational service with the Russian Army, but this subsequently appeared premature.
In September 2004 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met in St. Petersburg with his American counterpart Donald Rumsfeld. Asked about his attitude to the possibility of American military bases moving closer to the Russian borders (Poland or the Baltic states, for example), Sergei Ivanov said "We know about the U.S. plans to reconfigure its forces, and we understand them. I see nothing disquieting in these plans." But at the meeting with senior defense officials reporting to President Vladimir Putin on the drafting of a defense budget for 2005, he spoke about the completion of state tests of a new tactical missile system called the Iskander. Ivanov said that in 2005, the system will go into quantity production and toward the end of that year, Russia will 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. "This, however, .... may take up to five or six years," he said.
In 2006 ISKANDER-M Tactical Ballistic Missile System was adopted by the Russian army and serial production of the system launched.
Colonel General Vladimir Zaritsky, commander of the Russian Missile and Artillery Troops, said on 14 November 2007 "We used to have the Oka, which has been scrapped, and for a long time we had a gap in missile coverage in the range of 300-500 kilometers [190-310 miles]." Russia's short-range Oka tactical missile system was scrapped under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
On 10 February 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the INF Treaty no longer served Russia's interests. On 14 February 2007, Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian General Staff, sounding a warning to the US regarding its plans to deploy elements of its anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, said Russia could pull out of the INF unilaterally. Putin expanded on his arguments favoring Russia's potential withdrawal from the INF treaty in October 2007 by saying Russia could pull out of the US-Russian arms reductions agreement, unless it was extended to impose restrictions on other countries as well.
Colonel General Vladimir Zaritsky, commander of the Russian Missile and Artillery Troops, said on 14 November 2007 that the Iskander missile system could be modernized and its range extended, if Russia finally withdrew from the INF treaty. "The current version of Iskander is in full compliance with the INF treaty, but should the Russian leadership decide to pull out of the agreement, we will immediately enhance the capabilities of the system, including its range," the general said. The flight range of a new missile adapted for Iskander and successfully tested in May 2007 could exceed 500 km (310 miles). "The tests will continue until 2009," the official said. "So far they have been very successful."
At a regular cabinet meeting in the Kremlin on June 4, 2007 President Putin asked First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov to congratulate the creators of a new Iskander-M system on the missile's successful tests, tests that Mr Ivanov had reported to the President.
In an interview with the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily in July 2008, Col. Gen. Viktor Yesin, a former commander of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, said Moscow could deploy tactical Iskander-M missiles in the Kaliningrad Region or in Belarus, from where they could reach U.S. ground based interceptors in Poland.