Jan 17, 2022
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Moscow’s patience has run out: Crimea deploys Iskanders

Moscow's patience has run out: Crimea deploys Iskanders

Photo: Yuri Smityuk/TASS

In response to the actual failure of negotiations with NATO on providing firm security guarantees by the alliance to Russia, Moscow decided to start deploying the 9K720 Iskander-M high-precision tactical long-range missile system (according to NATO classification SS-26 Stone – “Stone”) in Crimea .

This became a fact after on Friday, January 14, the commander of the troops of the Southern Military District, General of the Army Alexander Dvornikov said: “We will strengthen (until the end of 2022 -” SP “) the 22nd Army Corps stationed in the Crimea, forming a missile division in its composition.” At the same time, Dvornikov, however, did not say a word about which division he was talking about. But there is practically no doubt that the Iskander division will soon be deployed on the peninsula. Why?

Firstly, because our industry has not been producing any other missile systems that even purely theoretically could be used to strengthen combined-arms armies and corps (we are definitely not talking about air defense systems, those divisions are even called differently – anti-aircraft missile).

Secondly, in August last year, at the Single Day of Acceptance of Military Products, the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Alexey Krivoruchko said that before the end of this year, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation will receive a new brigade set of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system. Which will be delivered “ahead of schedule”.

By the way, why such urgency? Is it not because even last summer it was quite obvious to the Kremlin what was going on? Although for the general public, the statement of the Deputy Minister of Defense to a certain extent turned out to be a surprise at that time. The fact is that earlier, from 2010 to 2019, under three contracts, JSC Scientific and Production Corporation KB Mashinostroeniya supplied the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with 13 brigade sets of Iskander-M OTRK.

The first four of the 13 missile brigades that received them, already with the Iskanders, came under the direct subordination of the commanders of the troops of all military districts of Russia. Then the same (each of the three missile divisions, in total – 12 launchers) began to strengthen the combined arms armies. Previously, they were armed with the Tochka-U tactical complexes produced back in the USSR and very outdated.

The process of re-equipping the entire Ground Forces of the Russian Federation with Iskanders seemed to have been completed back in 2019. When such a formidable weapon was the last in the Armed Forces to receive the 448th missile brigade of the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army of the Western Military District, stationed near the borders of Ukraine, in the Kursk region. And in the summer, we learned from Krivoruchko that the production line of JSC Scientific and Production Corporation KB Mashinostroeniya, which had been stopped, started working again. A few months ago, the production of the overplanned, fourteenth set of this OTRK was completed. For whom?

It remains to be assumed that this newest Iskander brigade set will be divided into separate missile divisions. One of which will go to the Crimea. And the other two? Well, let’s say – to the 14th Army Corps of the Coastal Forces of the Northern Fleet, deployed on the borders with NATO member Norway. Which, in theory, should drastically change the entire military-political situation and near our borders in the Arctic as a whole. But today we will focus exclusively on the upcoming “rocket” changes in the south.

If our assumptions are correct, then in the Southern Military District it was decided to create a very impressive shock fist from the Iskanders. With such weapons, the 40th Guards Rocket Red Banner Brigade of District Subordination (Astrakhan Region), the 47th Rocket Brigade of the 8th Guards Army (village Dyadkovskaya), the 1st Guards Rocket Orshanskaya Order of Suvorov and Kutuzov Brigade of the 49th Combined Arms Brigade have long been stationed there army (Goryachiy Klyuch) and the 12th missile brigade of the 58th combined arms army (Mozdok). Soon, similar offensive capabilities of the “Crimean” army corps will obviously be connected to them. Then only the Southern Military District will be able to instantly strike with approximately 150-200 missiles of the Iskander complex without reloading.

Targets for them can be found from a variety of directions: from Ukraine to Romania, at the Deveselu air base in which in December 2015 the United States completed the deployment of the American Aegis Ashore missile defense system and, according to some reports, from August 2016 began to transfer its nuclear weapons from the Incirlik base in Turkey. Could the OTRK of our missile brigades stationed in the Stavropol or Krasnodar Territories “reach out” there? Undoubtedly. But for this they would first have to fly over at least the Black Sea and Crimea. Which would significantly increase the flight time of such an impact.

With the deployment of the Iskander division on the sunny peninsula (although in such a context, the expression familiar to the Russian ear, you see, looks simply blasphemous!) Such a problem for Russia shrinks to a minimum. But for our enemies, on the contrary, it unfolds to its full height.

And not only in Romania and Ukraine, but throughout Europe. This configuration of the combat capabilities of the Iskanders developed after a few years ago a new cruise missile of the Iskander tactical complex was developed for them, which received the index 9M729 or SSC-8 (NATO designation). It is her experts of the North Atlantic Alliance that consider the land version of the famous Russian sea-based missile 3M14 of the Caliber complex.

According to these experts, the flight range of the new Iskander-M OTRK missile can be about 2.5-3.5 thousand kilometers. According to the American admiral James Foggo, “such a missile is capable of hitting any European capital from anywhere in the seas adjacent to Europe.” It will just be easier to do this from Crimea in a few months than, for example, from Mozdok or Goryachiy Klyuch.

At the same time, we will take into account that in the version of the Iskander upgraded for the winged 9M729, one mobile launcher will no longer have two, as before, but four such missiles. Which, in theory, will almost equalize the combat potential of just one division with the three-divisional missile brigade previously put on combat duty.

It is worth considering such a moment. Recently, even American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea and carriers of Tomahawk missiles and elements of the Aegis anti-missile defense system – destroyers of the Arleigh Burke type and missile cruisers of the Ticonderoga type – may be under the sights of the Crimean and Kuban Iskanders. Since 2018, the missilemen of the Southern Military District have already been busy with the relevant training.

Why is this new quality of Russian OTRK almost unbelievable for many? Because until recently it was believed that the Iskanders could be used mainly against stationary objects with coordinates well known to intelligence. Such as command posts, communication centers, ammunition depots, headquarters, various civilian infrastructure facilities. However, now new types of combined homing heads have been developed for their missiles – optoelectronic and radar. It was precisely this that three years ago made it possible for the first time in the Black Sea to carry out Iskander missile launches against sea targets together with the Bastion and Bal missile defense systems.

That is why the imminent appearance of Iskanders in Crimea, announced by General of the Army Dvornikov, will hopefully immediately have a sobering effect on NATO. If it does not, Moscow is capable of continuing to move in the same direction without any pause. For example, we can deploy Tu-22M3 supersonic long-range bombers (better known abroad as Backfires) at the Gvardeiskoye airfield near Simferopol, under whose wings it is easy to hang high-precision strategic cruise missiles X-101 with a firing range of up to 5000 kilometers, unparalleled in the world.

In March 2019, the former Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces, and now Senator General of the Army, first mentioned such a possibility as an almost fait accompli. Viktor Bondarev. Logically, this could not be an ordinary reservation – officials of such a rank never say anything to the public just like that. Without the sanction of the Kremlin – certainly. But it looked like the penultimate Chinese warning and a sounding of a possible reaction from the West.

If so, then the probe was a success. The shrill, but obviously frightened squeal of our opponents instantly soared to the heavens. “We condemn Russia’s ongoing and wide-ranging military buildup in Crimea and are concerned about Russia’s efforts and stated plans to further build up its military power in the Black Sea region,” the North Atlantic Alliance said in a statement.

Then we pretended to listen. Bondarev was demonstratively besieged by his colleague in the Russian parliament, also a general Vladimir Shamanov. He said that the appearance of the Tu-22M3 in the Crimea is not yet planned.

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