An Iskander ballistic missile was successfully launched during an exercise in the Jewish Autonomous Area in the Far East and hit a target 185 miles away, a spokesman for the Eastern Military District, one of the four operational strategic commands of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, announced Friday.
The Iskander ballistic missile is equipped with two solid-propellant single-stage guided missiles, each one controlled throughout the entire flight path and fitted with an inseparable warhead. Each missile in the launch carrier vehicle can be independently targeted in a matter of seconds. The mobility of the Iskander launch platform makes a launch difficult to prevent. Also, the Iskander targets can be acquired not only by satellite and aircraft but also by a conventional intelligence center, by an artillery observer or from aerial photos scanned into a computer. The missiles can be re-targeted during flight in case of engaging mobile targets.
Another unique feature of the Iskander system is the optically guided warhead, which can also be controlled by encrypted radio transmission, including from AWACS or UAV. The missile’s on-board computer receives images of the target, then locks onto the target with its sight and descends towards it at supersonic speed.
“The launch was carried out from a training site in the Jewish Autonomous area. The missile hit a target at a proving ground in the Amur region 300 kilometers (185 miles) away,” the spokesman said.
The missile destroyed several military infrastructure facilities of a hypothetical enemy, including a command center. Mechanized infantry units then went on the offensive. More than 400 officers and men and 100 pieces of military equipment from a missile unit of the Eastern Military District are involved in the exercise.
The Jewish Autonomous Oblast (administration) is a federal autonomous region in the Russian Far East, bordering the Heilongjiang province in China. The Soviets established the autonomous oblast in 1934, as part of Stalin’s Soviet nationality policy, which provided the Jewish population of the Soviet Union with a territory in which to pursue Yiddish cultural heritage. According to the 1939 population census, 17,695 Jews lived in the region at the time, about 16% of the total population. The Jewish population peaked in 1948 at around 30,000, about one-quarter of the region’s population.
In 2010, according to the Russian Census Bureau, there were only 1,628 people of Jewish descent in the Jewish Autonomy, fewer than 1% of the population, while ethnic Russians made up 92.7% of the population.
The IDF Home Front Command on Thursday revealed a private home siren that provides real-time warnings in case of a missile attack, Globes reported. A collaboration of the Home Front Command and Beeper Communications Israel, the home warning kit will be offered for sale to the general public this fall, but the cost is not yet finalized.
Home Front Command Planning Department Commander Col. Itzik Gai explained the value of the new product saying that the windows in most homes are closed with the air conditioning working in summer and in winter, making it difficult to hear the sirens. The new device will improve the chance that members of the household hear the alerts in time to evacuate to their safe rooms.
The Home Front Command has already pushed for the development of apps that provide real-time warning about incoming missiles via mobile phones and home computers. The new, personal warning system offers an enhancement of those apps. “The national siren system will continue to be the bulldozer for delivering warnings to the public, but the personal systems will be supplementary components,” Gai told Globes.
The Home Front Command divides Israel into 264 siren areas in which an alarm is activated as soon as a missile’s flight path and landing have been analyzed. In the area where the missile is expected to hit, the alarm system will be activated. Like the apps that were already in use during Operation Protective Edge two summers ago, the new home warning system will kick in only if a missile threatens the user’s particular area, leaving everyone else to continue with their daily routines.
“We’re already thinking about delivering an earlier warning focused on a single square kilometer,” Gai said, adding the signal could be sent to a smart watch.
Two military officers and three crew members aboard a Russian Mi8 transport helicopter were killed after the Mi8 helicopter in which they were traveling was shot down Monday over Syria.
It is the deadliest incident for the Russian military since the force arrived in the Middle East over a year ago.
The troops were heading back from Aleppo to the Russian “Reconciliation Center” at Hemeimim Air Base on the Syrian coast when the aircraft was shot down over Idlib province.
It is not clear how the two pilots and three crew members died.
Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an update, “From what we know from information provided by the Defense Ministry, all those who were on the helicopter died.”
The Russian crew “died heroically because they tried to move the aircraft away to as to minimize losses on the ground,” Peskov said. “The Kremlin conveys its deep condolences to the families of those killed in action,” he added.
The aircraft had allegedly been delivering humanitarian aid to the besieged former commercial hub city of Aleppo, according to a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry. There are some 300,000 people still trapped in the opposition section of the city with rapidly depleting supplies and surrounded by intense fighting.
Idlib province is a stronghold of the Al Qaeda-linked Jaish al-Fateh (“Army of Conquest”) groups which have captured most of the province. The Kremlin said in its statement that the helicopter was shot down by ground fire.
The Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, which announced it is changing its name and de-linking from the mother group, is part of Jaish al-Fateh.
In the past several months there have been at least three other incidents in which Russian aircraft have been shot down or crashed due to other reasons. Each time, two pilots were killed.
Opposition forces may have received new anti-aircraft weapons, freelance journalist Alaa Ibrahim told RT.com.
“I’ve heard some local sources where the [Russian] helicopter was downed speaking of the possibility of MANPADs – shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles – being used in that context,” he said.
Portable surface-to-air missiles would be a game changer in the hands of rebel forces, as such weapons counter air superiority — not only that of the Syrian regime Air Force, but also that of anyone else.
Although Western nations have tried to tease out the differences between “moderate” and “extremist Islamist” groups among the opposition forces, such parsing is not only very hard to do, it also becomes irrelevant as soon as any group faces heavy conflict with Syrian regime forces. At that point, all of the opposition groups tend to band together and share weapons, regardless of their ideological differences. This includes the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists and Al Qaeda as well as the Free Syrian Army, who are facing the Iranian Islamic Republic Revolutionary Guards and the Tehran-backed Hezbollah guerrilla forces, as well as the Syrian regime forces.
The weapons “sharing” gets worked out after the battle, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not.
At the end of the conflict when the war is at an end, most or all of the groups are likely to aim their arms at the State of Israel.
One year almost to the day after the signing of the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers, and in blatant violation of UN Resolution 2231, Tehran tried to launch a ballistic missile using North Korean technology, Fox News reported, citing intelligence officials.
The test failed when the missile exploded after liftoff, on July 11 at night, outside Saman, a city west of Isfahan, at a site Iran has used before to conduct ballistic missile tests. This is the latest attempt in the year since the signing of the nuclear deal.
The test rained on President Obama’s parade, who said on Thursday, the actual anniversary of the deal, that “over the last year, the Iran deal has succeeded in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program, avoiding further conflict and making us safer.”
But according to The Hill, the Republicans used the one-year anniversary for several largely symbolic measures to undermine the deal. “We need to look no further than Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing activities to see the disaster that the Iran nuclear agreement has been over the last year,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.
In UN Resolution 2231, Iran is “called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
According to Reuters, a confidential report by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that Iran’s ballistic missile program is “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal. The Security Council is due to discuss the Ban Ki-moon report on July 18. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi announced that “Iran will strongly continue its missile program based on its own defense and national security calculations.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who meets regularly with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, said this week that “Nobody pretends that some of the challenges we have with Iran have somehow been wiped away. There are other real issues, and we will continue and are continuing to focus on those issues.”
Which means the US is content to permit the Iranians to defy the UN and the Western allies in working on long-range missiles, which should be ready to carry nuclear payloads as soon as the temporary limit on Iran’s development of a nuclear device is removed, in 2025. And with its newly thawed billions of dollars, what would stop Iran from buying the device from North Korea, its favorite shopping spot?
In late June, North Korea succeeded in launching its home-grown Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile, which flew a distance of 250 miles to the Sea of Japan, this after five earlier failures.
The Taas, capable of hitting a target within a 10-meter accuracy radius even as far as 150 kilometers away, is part of Israel’s new arsenal being developed in preparation for a possible future conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The missile is described by the firm as a “precise, cost-effective, tactical-range artillery rocket” that allows ground force commanders to “influence the battlefield” at a range of 20 to 150 kilometers.
Developed in the IMI factory in Givon, the new rocket is approximately four meters long, with a diameter of 30 centimeters, and capable of carrying a variety of warheads up to a weight of 120 kilograms.
It’s a highly accurate rocket with a proven effectiveness against a “wide range of high payoff targets across the tactical battlefield,” according to the company.
The Taas will enable Israel to attack and eliminate any number of targets in Lebanon, should that prove necessary. This will also reduce the cost and complications of aerial attacks against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group where they hide north of Israel’s borders.
Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office issued the following statement regarding the dispute between the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Obama Administration over US support for Israel’s anti-missile program:
“In the wake of numerous misleading reports, the Prime Minister’s bureau would like to clarify there has been no cut in American assistance. There is an internal debate between Congress and the White House on the size of the annual supplement to the missile defense program.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu is working to anchor this supplement as part of the discussions on the assistance agreement for the next ten years.
“Not only will security assistance for missile defense not be cut, it will be increased.
“The attempt to turn the dialogue with the US into a domestic Israeli political tool is improper; expressions of panic are not warranted,” the PM’s statement concluded.