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Russia boosts production of engines for Iskander-M missiles


OMSK (Siberia), February 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Omsk engine design bureau has started large-scale production of engines for missiles deployed on the Iskander-M tactical missile systems, a senior company official said on Friday.

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 company has received a large defense ministry order to manufacture engines for Iskander-M systems. The first batch must be supplied by the end of February," said Valery Kovalchuk, the bureau's deputy general director.

Kovalchuk said that the company had all necessary design, testing and production assets to ensure full-cycle production of the engines, and the current order would keep the firm working at full capacity for the next five years.

The Iskander-M system has 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.

However, a high ranking Russian Defense Ministry source recently said that Russia had taken no practical measures to deploy the systems in Kaliningrad, and Russian officials have said they expect the new U.S. administration to change its stance on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar in the Czech Republic.

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