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Sizing Up Missile Strength: Russia's Iskander Versus America’s ATACMS

© Sputnik / Vitaliy Ankov / Go to the mediabankRussia's Iskander-M missile system. File photo
Russia's Iskander-M missile system. File photo - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.05.2024
The work of the Iskander missile systems has already added significantly to destroying Ukraine’s military infrastructure and personnel in the special operation.
Russia’s Iskander-M tactical short-range ballistic missiles are a "more capable weapon system" than its "equivalent" – the US-made ATACMSBrian Berletic, a geopolitical analyst and former soldier of US Marine Corps, recently said on his YouTube channel.
Is Berletic right? Check Sputnik to find out the details about the characteristics of the Iskander-M and ATACMS, also known as the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System.
Dimensions: Each Iskander missile has a length of 7.3m, a body diameter of 0.92m and a weight of 3,800 kg. In contrast, a 3.96-meter-long ATACMS missile has a body diameter of 0.61m and weighs up to 1,670 kg. The Iskander missile’s warhead weight is 480 kg against the 224­ kg warhead of the ATACMS.
Range: The Iskander and ATACMS missiles have a maximum range of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and 300 kilometers (186 miles), respectively.
Payload: The ATACMS missile can carry various types of warheads, including unitary high-explosive warheads or sub-munitions. The Iskander missile is also capable of carrying different types of warheads, such as conventional high-explosive ones, cluster munitions, or even nuclear warheads.
Mobility: The ATACMS missile is typically launched from an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) or an M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). To launch an Iskander missile, Russian forces use a mobile transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle, which provides high mobility and quick deployment capabilities.
Guidance System: The ATACMS missile uses a combination of inertial navigation system (INS) and GPS guidance for accurate targeting. The Iskander missile employs an advanced guidance system, including inertial navigation, GLONASS (Russian satellite navigation system), and potentially other guidance technology.
Viktor Litovkin, a Soviet and Russian Army veteran and military journalist, earlier told Sputnik that "[The Iskander-M's] effectiveness is recognized everywhere in the West, because its missile hits the bull's eye at a distance of 500 kilometers; a deviation of five meters from the center of the target is the same as a sniper hitting the mark."
He recalled that the Iskander-M is armed with two missiles to ensure high firepower in an attack, and that the system's launcher can fire either two ballistic missiles or two cruise ones, depending on the mission assigned to the crew.

"The Iskander-M missile can fly along a ballistic curve, and then change its flight direction to the right, left, up, down, that is, leave the ballistic curve at supersonic speed and hit the target," the Russian Army veteran said.

A transporter-loader places an Iskander-M shorter-range missile onto a self-propelled launcher during an exercise involving missile and artillery units of the Eastern Military District's Fifth Russian Army in the Primorye Territory - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.04.2023
Inside the Iskander: A Closer Look at Russia's Deadly Short-Range Missile
According to him, the missile’s warhead produces such an explosion that it can destroy many assets, ranging from command posts, headquarters, and factories, to groups of military equipment. "It all depends on what kind of warhead Iskander will have," Litovkin added.

He stressed that Iskander missile systems “played a crucial role since the beginning of the Russian special military operation, hitting the most important Ukrainian targets, including thermal power plants, military hardware, and accumulations of personnel, including NATO mercenaries."

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