What “Iskander” Missiles Are & How They Differ From “Kalibr” & “Kinzhal”

NEW – May 19, 2022

Some NATO experts call these missiles Russia’s most terrifying weapon, apart from nuclear weapons. Although, “Iskander” can be equipped with a nuclear warhead, and then it really becomes a “sentence” for Europe.

Let’s start with the fact that “Iskander” is not a missile in itself (like “Kinzhal” or “Kalibr“) – it is a whole missile system. That is, in addition to the launcher, it also includes a bunch of other equipment: a loading vehicle, a command post, a repair vehicle, a life support vehicle (barracks on wheels), a reconnaissance vehicle, etc.

At the same time, this missile system is operational and tactical. What does it mean?

Traditionally, missile weapons are divided into three types.

  • First: strategic missiles. They fly directly into enemy territory thousands of kilometres from the front line. This includes, for example, the famous “Sarmat” or “Bulava”.
  • Second: tactical missiles. They are used directly at the frontline. That is, their range is small. This includes, for example, MLRS “Grad” or the same “Katyusha”, during the Great Patriotic War.
  • Third: operational-tactical missiles (OTM). They occupy an intermediate position between strategic and tactical ones. Their task is to hit behind the front line (up to about 500 km) at the rear of the enemy group’s support: railway junctions, air defence systems, warehouses, headquarters, airfields, etc.
What are these Iskander missiles and how do they differ from Kalibrs and Daggers?

One of the first OTMs was, for example, the Soviet “Luna” and “Temp-S”.

OTRK "Temp-S", adopted in 1965
“Temp-S”, adopted in 1965

They were replaced by the “Tochka” missile system, followed by a more advanced one “Tochka-U“. We often hear about this “U” now, but it is already outdated and is not in service with the Russian Federation.

It was just replaced by “Iskander” – as a new generation of operational-tactical missile systems.

Iskander is the next stage of development after Tochka-U
Iskander is the next stage of development after Tochka-U

“Restricted Access Zone”

This term was coined by NATO and it refers to the territory on which, in the event of a war with Russia, NATO troops will not be able to stay without receiving unacceptable damage.

Well, that is, in the event of a war with the Bedouin in the desert, the United States can afford to fly and drive anywhere. With Russia, this trick will not work, because our country is able to create not just threats, but to cause catastrophic damage if the enemy is in the “Access Ban Zone”.

This zone is ensured, for example, by the most advanced S-400 air defence system in the world (as well as the latest S-500 and the promising S-550) – it covers us from the air.

From the sea, the “Bastion” coastal complex provides cover. But the “Iskander” is designed to work on enemy ground targets. In total, this trio creates extremely uncomfortable conditions for the enemy on our territory.

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At the same time, “Iskander”, in fact, has two varieties that are absolutely opposite to each other. These are “Iskander-M” and “Iskander-K”.

Iskander-M

It fires a rocket that flies at a high altitude (up to 100 km, that is, touches space) and manoeuvres very strongly.

The maneuverability of the rocket is such that overloads of up to 30 G are created during flight! Let me remind you that:

  • when riding a roller coaster, a person experiences an overload of up to 4 G;
  • Formula 1 drivers experience up to 6 G when braking sharply;
  • cosmonauts experience up to 8 G at rocket launch;
  • in fighter planes, up to 12 G is generated during the sharpest manoeuvres.

30 G is deadly not only for humans, but also for almost any equipment. Thus, at 30 G a fighter jet can simply fall apart.

The “Iskander-M” missile can withstand such overloads. This is despite the fact that at 30 G body weight increases by 30 times. That is, for example, if you weigh 60 kg, but at 30 G your body will start to weigh 1800 kg. Naturally, even the bones can’t withstand such an overload.

The super-maneuverability of the “Iskander-M” missile is necessary so that it is not shot down. In addition, the missile has stealth technologies, throws out false targets in flight, and also conducts radio-electronic warfare with enemy air defence systems.

That is why it is considered that it is almost impossible to shoot down this missile.

Iskander-K

But this type of missile, on the contrary, flies very low – at an altitude of 6-10 meters from the earth’s surface. Naturally, skirting the terrain.

Comparison of " K " and "M"
Comparison of “K” and “M”

An important advantage of “Iskander” is that both types of missiles can be launched from the same launcher. That is, “Iskander” can fire two types of missiles at a target at once: one will fly high and unpredictably, and the second will fly low and extremely imperceptibly.

All this together makes the probability of hitting the target close to 100%.

The stated range of both missiles is up to 500 km. However, many experts (including those in NATO) believe that this figure is greatly underestimated. The Russian military simply declares it, so as not to fall under the terms of the treaty on the elimination of intermediate-range and short-range missiles.

The actual flight range of “Iskander” can be up to 5000 km. However, it will be possible to check this only in the conditions of a real war.

What is the difference between “Kalibr” and “Kinzhal”?

You may have noticed that the “Iskander-M” behaves roughly like “Kinzhal”, and the “Iskander-K” behaves roughly like “Kalibr”.

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And there is not just some truth in this, but a very large amount. The fact is that the hypersonic “Kinzhal”, in fact, is an improved “Iskander-M”.

Just “Iskander-M” starts from the ground and spends a huge part of its energy on acceleration and climb. But “Kinzhal” is raised to a height in advance and accelerated by a fighter jet, so it spends most of its energy on gaining hypersonic speed.

As for the similarity of the second version of “Iskander” (“K”) with “Kalibr”, this is exactly the similarity. There is no direct relationship between the missiles, although both of them are cruise missiles.

What is “Iskander” capable of?

Flying 500 km beyond the horizon, “Iskander” is able to hit the target with an accuracy of up to 5 meters.

At the same time, the mass of the missile’s warhead is 500 kg. That is, it’s possible to cram either half a ton of explosives or a fairly decent nuclear bomb into it, and then a deviation from the target of even 50 meters will not matter much.

The speed of the high-altitude missile is 2100 m/s (over Mach 6). That is, it is hypersonic (like “Kinzhal”, whose speed is 2 times higher, up to 4000 m/s).

In the non-nuclear version, “Iskander” is capable of carrying one of three types of warheads:

  • High-explosive shrapnel. This is the most popular type for hitting most targets, from warehouses to airfields. It can be described simply as a “large grenade” (under 500 kg), which creates a powerful shock wave and scatters fragments
  • Concrete cutting. This is for breaking through underground bunkers
  • Cluster. This is for hitting large areas with shrapnel. One Iskander cluster missile covers approximately 15,000 m2 of ground with a cloud of shrapnel, which means two football fields.

In the nuclear version, “Iskander” is capable of carrying a warhead of up to 50 kilotons. This is 3 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Given that the range of “Iskander” can really reach 2-3 thousand kilometres, this weapon is not just a nightmare for Europe. This is its verdict if it comes to a large-scale conflict.

They understand this and therefore they are now acting with someone else’s hands, pushing forward naive guys who have hung their ears in front of a “bright European future”. A future in which they will not be taken in any case.

Let me remind you that “Iskander” is not called the most formidable by me, but by NATO experts. Now I want to mix military affairs with geography a little, that is, show on the map where these very Iskanders are located at all.

And so. Just as soldiers are organised into platoons, companies, battalions, and regiments, “Iskanders” have a certain organisational structure.

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So, two launchers form a battery:

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

Two batteries form a missile division:

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

Three divisions form a missile brigade:

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

Thus, the brigade has 12 “Iskander” launchers.

And there are 13 such brigades in Russia. Plus, there is one separate division of 4 launchers.

In total, Russia officially has 140 “Iskander” launchers. Although the exact number of them, of course, is classified and therefore unknown.

Since “Iskander” is not just a missile, but a whole missile system, in addition to 12 launchers, each missile brigade includes:

  • 12 transport and charging vehicles;
  • 11 command and staff vehicles;
  • 14 life support vehicles (for personnel living in the field);
  • 1 machine regulations and maintenance;
  • 1 point of information preparation;

That makes a total of 51 vehicles (including launchers).

Just one salvo from such a brigade (24 missiles) can disable some average European country. When using a nuclear warhead – any country or the whole of Europe.

Where “Iskander” is located

Let’s start with the European part of Russia:

1st Guards Missile Brigade (Goryachy Klyuch near Krasnodar)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

12th Missile Brigade (Mozdok, North Ossetia)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

26th Missile Brigade (Luga, Leningrad region)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

112th Guards Missile Brigade (Shuya)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

92nd Missile Brigade (Totskoye village, Orenburg region)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

152nd Guards Missile Brigade (Chernyakhovsk, Kaliningrad region)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

448th Missile Brigade (Kursk)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

47th Missile Brigade (Dyadkovskaya station near Krasnodar)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

630th Separate Missile Division (Znamensk, Astrakhan region)

As the name implies, this is a separate division, not a brigade. Therefore, there are not 12 of “Iskander”, but four.

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

In total, there are 8 brigades + 1 division in the European part of Russia. Now let’s move on to Siberia and the Far East.

107th Missile Brigade (Birobidzhan, Jewish Autonomous Region)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

103rd Missile Brigade (Ulan-Ude, Buryatia)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

20th Guards Missile Brigade (Ussuriysk, Primorsky Krai)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

119th Missile Brigade (Abakan, Khakassia)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

3rd Missile Brigade (Gorny village, near Chita)

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

In total, this is what the “Iskander” map of Russia looks like:

Where are the most formidable Iskander missiles located in Russia?

By the way, just in case, I will clarify that all this is not a state secret and all data is taken from open sources, including Wikipedia.

As we can see, almost the entire land border of Russia is covered by “Iskander”. The only “weak” areas we see are in the north, on the border with Finland, and in the area of the border with friendly Kazakhstan (a member of the CSTO).

But things can change, of course. A video is already circulating on the web, how new “Iskander” divisions are approaching the borders of Finland. Apparently, the Kremlin’s promises are coming true – the Finnish direction is growing stronger due to the country’s desire to join NATO.

Well, then. Now they will live under the sights of 50-kiloton nuclear warheads. They probably feel better this way.


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