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    Russia expands production of precision guided weapons

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    Russia is expanding production of precision guided weapons, including Iskander tactical missiles, a deputy defense minister said in an interview published on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, February 11 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is expanding production of precision guided weapons, including Iskander tactical missiles, a deputy defense minister said in an interview published on Wednesday. (INFOgraphics)

    Col. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin, the head of military procurements, told the Krasnaya Zvezda daily that precision weapons "are calling the shots on the battlefield today."

    He added that the recent "peace enforcement" operation in Georgia highlighted the need for advanced highly maneuverable and effective weapon systems.

    He said this also applied to "space assets used for military purposes."

    Russia's Omsk engine design and production association said on Friday it had started full-scale production of engines for Iskander-M tactical missiles.

    The Iskander-M system (NATO reporting name SS-26 Stone) is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage 9M723K1 guided missiles with "quasi-ballistic" capability. The missiles have a range of 400 km (250 miles) and can reportedly carry conventional and nuclear warheads.

    Russia is planning to equip at least five missile brigades with Iskander-M systems by 2016. So far, two missile battalions on combat duty in the North Caucasus military district have been fully equipped with Iskander-M, according to some military sources.

    President Dmitry Medvedev threatened in November to retaliate over the U.S. missile shield plans in Central Europe by deploying Iskander-M missiles in the country's westernmost exclave of Kaliningrad, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania.

    Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said last week that the shield is aimed at Russia's nuclear deterrent, and said Moscow would not follow through with its threat to deploy Iskander missile systems in the Kaliningrad Region if the United States gave up its missile shield plans.

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