January 28, 2009 / 3:43 PM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX: Key facts about Russia's Iskander missile

(Reuters) - Russia has halted a plan to station missiles near the Polish border in retaliation for a proposed U.S. missile defense shield in eastern Europe, a Russian news agency quoted the military as saying on Wednesday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in November he might deploy Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad in response to Washington’s plan to create an interceptor missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Here are some details on the Iskander missile:

* The Iskander is a short-range surface-to-surface missile fired from a mobile launcher. It is 7.3 meters long and can carry a payload of 480 kg (1,058 lb).

* It has two versions. The Iskander M, known by the NATO designation SS-26, is the version used by Russia’s armed forces and has a range of 400 km (250 miles). The Iskander E is a modification for export and has a range of 280 km.

* Media reports said last year Syria was interested in buying Iskander missiles, but Damascus later denied this.

* The missile can carry cluster, blast-fragmentation or penetration warheads. A thermobaric, or vacuum bomb, warhead, is also believed to be part of the system’s capabilities. It can carry a tactical nuclear warhead.

* An earlier version, the SS-21 Tochka, or Scarab by its NATO designation, was extensively used by Russia during the latter part of its war in Chechnya and during the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia.

* The missile uses onboard navigation and flight control at the boost and terminal phases of its trajectory to steer toward its target.

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said last month 30 Iskander systems would be supplied to the armed forces over the next three years.

* Russian and foreign media have reported however that it may take many years before Russia’s army receives the systems, because defense manufacturers’ production capacity is limited.

Sources: Reuters/defense-update.com/ and Jane's Information Group www.janes.com.

Writing by Dmitry Solovyov in Moscow and David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit

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