YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Russia has deployed in Armenia state-of-the-art ballistic missiles capable of striking targets more than 400 kilometers away, according to a source in the Armenian Defense Ministry.
Speaking on the condition anonymity, the source told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) over the weekend that several Iskander-M systems are currently stationed at undisclosed locations in the country. The source declined to clarify whether they were delivered to the Armenian armed forces or the Russian military base headquartered in Gyumri.
Citing an unnamed Russian military source, the Russian news agency Regnum reported on May 15 that Moscow is likely to deploy the advanced surface-to-surface missiles as part of the ongoing modernization of its base in Armenia.
Designated by NATO as SS-26 Stone, Iskander-M is regarded by military analysts as one of the most advanced missile systems of its kind in the world. The system known for its precision was developed in the 1990s and adopted by the Russian army in 2006. With an operational range of at least 400 kilometers, its 7.3-meter-long missiles can overcome existing missile-defense systems, according to Russian military officials and experts.
A Russian-Armenian defense agreement signed in August 2010 commits Moscow to helping Yerevan obtain “modern and compatible weaponry and special military hardware.” Russian assistance is vital for the implementation of a five-year plan to modernize the Armenian army that was adopted by the Sarkisian administration later in 2010. The plan puts the emphasis on the acquisition of long-range precision-guided weapons.
The Armenian military has been equipped until now with only Scud-B and Tochka-U ballistic missiles that have firing ranges of 300 kilometers and 120 kilometers respectively. The Soviet-era systems are less advanced than Iskander-M. The military makes no secret of its readiness to use them against Azerbaijan’s oil and gas installations in case of a renewed war for Nagorno-Karabakh.
Full article: Russia Stations Advanced Missiles in Armenia (Asbarez Armenian News)