Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Russia ready to export Iskander missile

Russia is in talks with foreign customers interested in buying Iskander tactical missile systems, a senior executive at state-controlled arms exporter Rosoboronexport said on Wednesday.

Deputy General Director Alexander Mikheyev said it was too soon to identify the customers or countries in question.
"Rosoboronexport is marketing the Iskander, but no contracts have been signed yet," he said.

The Iskander-E (SS-26 Stone), an export version of the Iskander-M missile system in service with the Russian military, is a theater ballistic missile system designed to effectively engage a variety of targets at a range of up to 280 km (170 miles). It carries a single warhead with a payload of 400 kg to comply with the limits laid down by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

On Saturday, the chief of Russia's Ground Forces, Col. Gen. Alexander Postnikov, said Iskander missiles had been put into operation in the Leningrad Military District.

The report aroused concern among Russia's western neighbors. In particular, Estonian Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo said the deployment was "incomprehensible in view of Russia's current relations with NATO."

The United States has scrapped its plans for a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Moscow welcomed the move, and President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia would drop plans to deploy Iskander-M missiles in its Kaliningrad Region, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

However, Washington has not given up on its European missile shield initiative. In May, the United States opened a temporary military base in northern Poland, just 80 km (50 miles) from the border of Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, a move that drew fierce criticism from Russia.

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