Why Russia has parked Iskander-M missile system along Ukraine

Updated: Jan 29, 2022, 03:48 PM(IST)

The Russian defence ministry had released a video showing Iskander missile systems taking part in drills conducted in the western military district bordering Europe.

Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile

According to reports, Russia has parked the  Iskander-M short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) systems near the Ukraine border amid escalating tensions.

Reports from Ukraine defence ministry said at least 36 Iskander launchers are now put along the border. Several reports indicated the Iskander ballistic missiles were being transported by train with photos on social media.

On Wednesday, the Russian defence ministry had released a video showing Iskander missile systems taking part in drills conducted in the western military district bordering Europe.

The scheduled exercises were aimed to check the troops' battle readiness, and will continue till January 29.


Iskander nuclear-capable missiles

Russia has also started making combat readiness inspections in its southern military district which borders Ukraine, involving more than 6,000 troops.

The Kremlin earlier said it was watching with great concern after the United States put 8,500 troops on alert to be ready to deploy to Europe in case of an escalation in the Ukraine crisis as war clouds gather over Europe.

In 2018, Russia had deployed nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad. The short-range Iskander missiles have a range 500 km and can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads.


Iskander-K can fire cruise missiles

The Iskander-K can fire cruise missiles. The Iskander has bunker-busting capabilities including a cluster munitions warhead.

Reports say there are at least three brigades deployed along Ukraine's border. The extraordinary levels of launchers posted along Ukraine has greatly worried Western officials since it gives Russia a big advantage in case of conflict with its neighbour.


Nuclear-capable Kinzhal missiles

Last week Russia had tested the Kinzhal missiles in the Arctic region amid tensions with Ukraine at the border.

According to reports, Russia is preparing a Kinzhal hypersonic complex at military airfields. 

The Kinzhal missile system is nuclear-capable and was unveiled by President Putin during a speech in March 2018 as one of the  “next generation” weapons.

Russia has already deployed the air-launched ballistic missiles on MiG-31K carriers.

According to a report, Russia’s 2020 Arctic strategy states that the increased conflict potential of the Arctic requires the Russian armed forces to constantly increase their combat potential in the region.

(Photo Courtesy: Sputnik)


'Dagger': Destroy high-value targets

According to the Centre for Strategic and International Studies(CSIS), Kinzhal has been deployed on a squadron of MiG-31Ks in the southern military district and the western military district is set to receive the hypersonic weapon in the near future.

The missile known as the "Dagger” is an Air-launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM) with a payload of 480 kgs. It has a range of 1,500-2,000 km and was reportedly put in service in 2017.

The Kinzhal is typically described as a weapon intended to destroy high-value ground targets, such as missile defence sites, CSIS said in its study.

(Photo courtesy: Russian Aerospace Forces)


Kinzhal's land attack role in northern Europe

The missile system primarily targets aircraft carriers, Aegis cruisers and destroyers. "The Kinzhal may also have an important land-attack role in northern Europe considering that an Iskander brigade was recently deployed near the Norwegian border," CSIS said in its report.

Russia has already announced it will hold huge naval drills in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific and Mediterranean this month and February at a time of heightened tensions with Western nations.

The wargames will involve more than 140 warships and support vessels, more than 60 aircraft, 1,000 pieces of military equipment, and about 10,000 servicemen.

(Photo Courtesy: Russian ministry of defence)


Orion combat drone

As tensions mounted along the border in Ukraine last year, Russia launched the Orion combat drone. The attack drone fired an air-to-air munition at an unmanned vehicle during testing.

According to the Russian defence ministry the drone also fired at ground targets during the exercise at the Crimean training ground.

Reports said Russia has also reportedly developed a new aircraft-launched laser-guided missile. The Orion drone can take on other drones during combat.


Drone with air-to-surface missiles

The drone is equipped with electro-optical and infrared cameras and is controlled by a "pilot" on the ground. The drone can also carry out reconnaissance while patrolling a specific area.

The drone also has KAB-20 and KAB-50 aerial bombs including UPAB-50 guided gliding aerial bombs

The Orion drone is a medium-altitude, long-duration, unmanned aerial system engineered by Russia's Kronshtadt company.

The drone is capable of carrying four air-to-surface missiles, accelerating to 200 km per hour climbing to 7.5 km can operate for as long as 24 hours.

The drone can carry a combat payload of 250 kg.


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