Russia suspended the works to deploy Iskander missile complexes in the Kaliningrad enclave. Moscow intended to station the systems in the region in response to missile plans of the United States in Europe.
An official spokesman for the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces said Wednesday that the execution of the plans was suspended because the new US administration was not emphasizing the idea to deploy the elements of its missile defense system in Eastern Europe, Interfax quoted the anonymous official as saying.
“There is no need for Russia to deploy Iskander systems in the Kaliningrad region if the USA does not deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe ,” the official added.
Russia’s Defense Ministry officials said that it was too early to make any precise statement about the deployment of Iskander systems in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave.
“It is an elaboration of the General Staff, it is not a real action. The Defense Ministry has not made any practical measures regarding the issue,” a high ranking official told RIA Novosti news agency.
The official stressed out that the General Staff deals with the elaboration of various responses to all kinds of security threats, including “the invasion of insects and the Martians.”
“One should at least form a division, train it and provide it with the required equipment. “None of that has been done yet,” the official added.
Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev announced an intention to deploy Iskander missile complexes in the Kaliningrad region in the beginning of November 2008. Medvedev said in his address to the Federal Assembly that Russia would not become involved in another arms race. However, he added, Moscow would watch closely NATO’s unfriendly steps.
Moscow currently hopes for a positive turn of its relations with Washington. In the meantime, Zbigniew Brzezinsky, a one-time national security advisor to President Carter, stated not so long ago that the intention of the US administration to deploy interceptor missiles and radar stations in Europe virtually depended on Russia’s belligerence.
The Iskander ballistic missile is superior to its predecessor, the SS-23 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 a nonseparable 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, or by a soldier who directs artillery fire. Targets can also be located from aerial photos scanned into the computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in case of engaging mobile targets. Another unique feature of Iskander-M (not Iskander-E) is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmisson, including such 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.
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.
Iskander has achieved accuracy, range and reliability (ability to penetrate defences) that constitutes an alternative approach to precision bombing for air forces that cannot expect to launch bombing or cruise missile fire missions reliably in face of superior enemy fighters and air defences. Training and competence requirements are much lower than for normal air force assets like a fighter bomber squadron utilizing guided bombs.