The Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Oleksiy Reznikov, published an infographic with an updated estimate of the stockpile of Rashist missiles as of January 3, 2023. In particular, for the first time during the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine, our official estimates of the number of cruise missiles of the 9M728 (also known as R-500) and 9M729 types for the Iskander OTRK were announced.
According to the data of our defense department, as of February 23, 2022, there were a total of up to 100 KR to the Iskander complex; during the war, another + 20 missiles of both types were manufactured (the average production rate is 2 missiles per month). A total of 68 units were fired, leaving only 52 9M728 and 9M729 cruise missiles.
Given that the Russians now only possess 59 Kalibr cruise missiles, the value is actually not so little (with a monthly production of 15 units).
Accordingly, there is reason to assume that the Orks may begin actively using ballistic missiles and cruise missiles for the Iskander complexes in the near future. Therefore, there is reason to talk about KR’s characteristics. The main characteristic that can distinguish cruise missiles of the 9M728 and 9M729 types from each other is the actual flight range.
The stated shooting range is 500 kilometers for 9M728. The Russian Federation stopped adhering to the INF Treaty (on eliminating short and medium-range missiles) in August 2019, and Western analysts speculated that the 9M729 might have an actual firing range of around 1,500 km.
In publically available data, it is assumed that the 9M728 and 9M729 warhead weights are 480 kg and that their subsonic flight speeds are around 900 km/h.
So it turns out that the KR to OTRK “Iskander” can cause the same damage to the infrastructure of Ukraine as missiles of the types X-101 and X-555 and sea “Kalibr.” But also – that our air defense can shoot down the winged “Iskanders” as effectively as their air and sea-based “brothers in arms.”
There were indications in the public domain that for the manufacture of 9M728, the developers used, in particular, Western chips of the 1980s. But despite such “technological simplifications,” for unknown organizational reasons, the Russian military-industrial complex did not force the production of such KR.
A total of 68 cruise missiles of both types were launched – a “modest” indicator against the figures’ background for firing other types of Russian missile weapons.
The number of references to the use of “Iskander-K” in open sources can be counted on the fingers of one hand: on March 3, 2022, there was a report about the launch of the P-500 over Kyiv.
In May 2022, the Rashists fired three KR of this type at a training ground in the Dnipropetrovsk region, two were shot down, and one hit the target; in September of last year, there was a report that our anti-aircraft defense shot down three Iskander-K missiles over the Dnipropetrovsk region.
It should not be ruled out that the successful delivery of “cotton” to the objects of the strategic aviation of the Russian Federation may push the Orks to more actively use the winged “Iskanders” for attacks on the infrastructure of Ukraine.
If only because the Iskander-M anti-aircraft vehicle is an order of magnitude more compact object than the Engels airfield, accordingly, it will be more difficult to hit such an object with an improvised means of delivering “Cotton” based on the Soviet Strizh UAV.