Some significant news from late June and early July, largely (or entirely) overlooked by Western observers . . .
Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu presided over the first delivery of a “brigade set” of Iskander-M (SS-26 / Stone) short-range ballistic missile systems at Kapustin Yar on 28 June.
According to Mil.ru, uniformed and civilian Defense Ministry officials, industry representatives, and journalists were present for the test range ceremony.
The delivery followed the MOD’s announcement last month that Iskander-M system components will no longer be supplied separately to the army, only in “brigade sets.” The military department also reported a “long-term” contract for deliveries of the missile system until 2017 was concluded with the producer.
A complete “brigade set” includes missiles, launchers, transport-loaders, command-staff, data processing, check-out, and maintenance vehicles, and training systems.
Shoygu reiterated that the MOD intends to reequip all ten Ground Forces missile brigades with Iskander-M before the end of 2017. Ten brigades should deploy at least 120 missiles, not including reloads. The Iskander-M is the only weapons system to be 100 percent procured before 2020, according to the MOD’s recently publicized Action Plan.
At Kapustin Yar, Iskander-M designer Valeriy Kashin of the Kolomna Machine-Building Design Bureau told reporters the military will receive another “brigade set” before year’s end, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta and Komsomolskaya pravda.
But completing the military’s order in less than five years could prove difficult for Russia’s defense industries.
NG reported Kashin said enterprises working on the Iskander-M have to “intensify” their activities several fold to meet the MOD deadline. Seventeen specialized manufacturers are scheduled to upgrade and retool under a 40 billion ruble ($1.2 billion) investment effort.
However, actual reconstruction of production lines will not begin until 2014, according to online daily Vzglyad.
Shoygu told those in attendance at Kapustin Yar the most important step now is establishing the “essential infrastructure” for the deployment of new arms and equipment. He reemphasized this in a 1 July MOD videoconference by calling for special attention to synchronizing the delivery of weapons with the construction of bases and other support infrastructure where they will be deployed (and with the training of those who will operate them).
The defense minister stated that the MOD currently awaits completion of military construction projects worth 314 billion rubles ($9.7 billion). He said he wants the backlog eliminated before November.
An NVO correspondent present at Kapustin Yar reports that the just delivered Iskander-M brigade’s new facilities will be complete in September.
The newest Iskander-M brigade is likely intended for the Southern Military District, which presently only has one battalion of the new missiles.
Shoygu is right to focus on arranging the appropriate infrastructure for Russia’s new armaments because it has traditionally neglected support and lifecycle investments in its military equipment.
Were any Iskander missile launched during the South Ossetia War? If so, what exactly did they target?
Not sure but seem to recall the Wiki article on Iskander says the Russians did, with a frag warhead, hitting an armored column and killing a foreign journalist in the process.
I thought the tactical ballistic missiles were meant for higher value targets, like radar and SAM installations.
In an ideal world perhaps. But they were caught off-guard by the Georgians, and a live conflict seems like the time to use what you’ve got. One would have to know the exact situation and circumstances of the moment to understand fully. The war presented a real-world test opportunity. Maybe the answer’s in the CEP: 5-7 meters for Iskander, 20 times that for Tochka and something less for Tochka-U. In the exigency, they used what was available and would perform the mission.
I’d like to make two distinct points:
1. You haven’t made any mention in the main posting of the cruise missile version of the Iskander-M, derived from the naval Kalibr (Club) system. This version is a direct violation of the 1987 INF treaty and so worthy of quite a bit of attention.
2. There is no evidence to suggest that the Russians were “caught off-guard” at the beginning of the 2008 war. To the contrary, there is strong circumstantial evidence that the Russians initiated the hostilities covertly.
Thanks for commenting…haven’t really seen much about the so-called Iskander-K beyond reports it’s been tested. Yes, there seems little doubt Moscow provoked the war in a strategic and operational sense over many years, but the readiness and performance of Russian troops suggests Georgia’s choice of the moment took them by surprise. But not really a critical point for this piece — suffice it to say, for some reason, the Russians decided to use the Iskander, maybe it was just the opportunity to use it in a real-world situation, or maybe it was a hasty decision in the heat of battle, who knows?