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    Russia to equip 5 brigades with Iskander missile systems by 2015

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    At least five missile brigades deployed on Russia's western border will be equipped with new Iskander-M short-range missile systems by 2015, a Defense Ministry source said on Friday.

    MOSCOW, November 7 (RIA Novosti) - At least five missile brigades deployed on Russia's western border will be equipped with new Iskander-M short-range missile systems by 2015, a Defense Ministry source said on Friday.

    "By 2015, the Iskander system will be put in service with five missile brigades, primarily near Russia's western border and in the Kaliningrad Region," the source said.

    Russia believes that the placement of high-precision tactical missiles near borders with NATO countries would be the best response to U.S. missile defense plans for Europe.

    Moscow has repeatedly expressed its opposition to Washington's plans to place 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and an accompanying radar in the Czech Republic, saying they threaten Russia's national security.

    The deployment of mobile Iskander-M missile systems with a range of 500 km (310 miles) in the Kaliningrad region would allow Russia to target almost anywhere in Poland and also parts of Germany and the Czech Republic.

    The Iskander-M system is equipped with a solid-propellant single-stage guided missile 9M723K1 (SS-26 Stone) controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with a non-separable warhead.

    The missile follows a non-ballistic "fuzzy" path, which includes such features as violent maneuvers in the terminal phase of flight and the release of decoys.

    It is built with elements of "stealth" technology and has a reduced reflective surface. The altitude of its flight trajectory never exceeds 50 kilometers (30 miles), which makes it even harder to detect and intercept.

    The source also said Russia will supply Iskander missile systems to Belarus as part of an "asymmetric" response to the U.S. European missile shield.

    "Belarus is our ally and we ... will deliver these systems to that country on a priority and most favorable basis," the official said.

    Russia and Belarus, which have maintained close political and economic ties since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, have been in talks for several years on the delivery of Iskander-E systems to equip at least one Belarus missile brigade by 2015.

    With its maximum range of 280 km (about 180 miles), Iskander-E is likely to target U.S. missile defense facilities in Poland, which shares a border with Belarus.

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