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The operational tactical launchers Iskander-M received a new missile. It is a stealth weapon that maneuvers to create additional problems for air and missile defense. The new missile was fired for the first time in a 2020 exercise, writes the Izvestia daily, citing Defense Ministry sources. They said creation of the missile began in 2016. It is currently in a high state of readiness. The missile was tested in 2020 at the Kapustin Yar firing range during a missile and artillery force exercise.
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9P78-1 TEL Iskander-M (Image source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

The new Iskander-M missile is coated with radio-absorbent material, is very maneuverable and can destroy targets at a distance of 500 kilometers. The missile belongs to the air ballistics class. “The new weapon is probably a development of the 9M723 air ballistic missile, which has been engaged by Iskander-M for several years,” said expert Dmitry Kornev. “The shape of the body and the nose had to be improved and new materials used to decrease the radar signature. The controls have probably changed as well, as super handling is reported, ”he said.

Several years ago, Machine-Building Design Bureau (KBM) general designer Valery Kashin said new missiles were designed for Iskander-M, which can fire both ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The Iskander-M ammunition series currently includes five ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles. They can destroy various targets and the strike is difficult to repel by the available air and missile defense. “Quasi-ballistic missiles can maneuver and are guided throughout the flight,” Kornev said.

Modern Russian and foreign air and missile defense can intercept ordinary short-range ballistic missiles. Iskander missiles were designed for unpredictable maneuvers with an overload of 20 to 30 to complicate interception. Missiles are universal and can carry various warheads: explosives, fragmentation, armor piercing, fragmentation. There is also a nuclear warhead. Iskander-M missiles can self-guide by radar or optical image. The missile itself adjusts the trajectory at the final stage of flight.

Improved missiles have been designed for the Iskander-M since its entry into service. In 2019, the United States declared the 9M729 cruise missile to exceed the 500 km range limited by the INF Treaty. Washington used the accusations as a pretext to withdraw from the INF.

The Russian military said the 9M729 has a range of 480 km which is within the limits of the INF. It differs from the previous 9M728 by a more powerful warhead and an improved guidance system.

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Iskander-M launcher and missile in its initial variant (Image source: Youtube)

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