Who can win? | Confrontation of LORA, Polonez and Iskander missiles in Karabakh - MILITARY EXPERT

Read: 5715     10:00     01 October 2020    

A few hours after the start of the operations, the liberation of seven villages in the direction of Fizuli and Jabrayil districts, and two heights in the direction of Murovdagh, besiegement of the Armenian units in this direction, destruction of Armenian military headquarters, command observation posts, loss of a lot of equipment and personnel and, as well as the confirmation of these facts with video footage have already caused disappointment in Armenia and Karabakh.

As in previous years, when facing the difficulties in the military sphere or in case of emergency, the Armenian leadership only addresses to one thing: Iskander operational-tactical missile complexes provided to them by Russia.

Iskander missile system is equipped with two independently targeted short-range ballistic missiles. Each missile has a length of 7.3m, body diameter of 0.92m and weight of 3,800kg. The missile can be re-targeted during flight to engage moving targets.

Iskander can carry 480kg of conventional warheads including HE fragmentation, submunition, penetration, fuel-air explosive and electro-magnetic pulse. The minimum firing range of the missile is 50km and the maximum is 280km. Iskander is powered by a single-stage solid-propellant engine. Its service life is 10 years. However, the missile system loses its effectiveness after 3 years in desert conditions. Although Yerevan is trying to prove that with these missiles, it can create a balance with Azerbaijan in the field of missile weapons, this is not true. Why?

First, Iskander-E is the simplest version of the Russian operational-tactical complex. As a result of the strained Turkish-Russian relations in 2015, it was decided to transfer these complexes to Armenia. However, there is no official position of Russia that Armenia has the right to use it.

Second, let us assume that these complexes are in full use of Armenia. The shooting range of Iskander complex is designed to fire only one projectile at a time. It can launch the second and last missile after one minute at the earliest. However, Polonez complex, which is included in the arsenal of Azerbaijan, can fire eight missiles at eight different targets in less than a minute, in 50 seconds! LORA can fire four missiles at four different targets in 14 minutes.

Third, even if we do not take into account Iron Dome and Barak-8 systems, the possibility of detecting, intercepting and destroying two missiles fired at intervals of one minute is at least 4 times higher than performing the same actions against 8 missiles for the same type of anti-missile or air defence systems.

Fourth, it takes 30 minutes and 8 minutes to make Iskander and Polonez complexes ready for use accordingly. This means that the Iskander complex can launch two missiles at least 32 minutes after getting order to bring it to a state of readiness. However, the Polonez system can fire eight missiles at eight different targets in less than 9 minutes, which means that while Iskander is still in the state of readiness to fire, it has to take measures to protect itself from the impact of Polonez missiles. Twelve minutes is quite a long time in the confrontation of operational-tactical missile complexes.

Fifth, while the Iskander complex does not have cassette-type warhead and self-igniting components, LORA has both of these features, and Polonez has the best firing system.

Sixth, the Iskander-E model has limited maneuverability as stated by the manufacturer. This expands the list of anti-missile systems that can be used against it.

Seventh, Iskander has a service life of only 3 years, LORA 7 years, and Polonez 10 years in desert conditions. If we assume that all the missiles delivered to Armenia were sent directly to Yerevan from a conveyor, they should have been replaced last year.

This figure is considered one of the serious shortcomings of the missiles of such a complex. It is also interesting who will do it and with what funds.

Both Iskander and Polonez complexes use Belarus-made MZKT-7930 chassis, so their capabilities are not worth comparing.

In many Russian and Armenian media outlets, Russian military experts are usually jealous of the comparison of Polonez’s capabilities with Iskander's. This is natural, even if they are allies, Russia does not want to have a weapon manufacturer around to compete, like Belarus, and Armenia does not accept the weakness of the only means of deterrence in its hands.

By comparing Polonez complexes with Smerch and Tochka-U systems, Armenia is striving to portray the first one as “outdated”. However, it is not logical to compare the abovementioned weapons which have very different technical characteristics.  

When comparing the capabilities of Polonez YARS and Iskander operational-tactical missile complexes, the Belarusian missile is behind its rival only in the weight of the warhead. However, this lag is compensated by the number of missiles for 4 times.

As for the LORA in our arsenal, its fugue-type warhead weighs 400 kg, and the cumulative warhead weighs 600 kg, which is 20% more powerful than the Iskanger-E. Due to the inertial navigation system integrated with GPS, survivability in flight due to supersonic velocity and shaped trajectory flight mode, limits the ability of the Armenian Air Force missiles to combat LORA. LORA is a precision strike tactical ballistic missile developed by Israel Aerospace Industries’. The weapon system mainly comprises a long-range ballistic missile and a launcher along with a command and control system, and a ground/marine support system. It can accurately hit a range of targets including tactical surface-to-surface missiles (SSM), air bases, multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) units, air, and missile defence units, and command posts. The missile is capable of offering ballistic assault capabilities with an accuracy of 10m circular error probable (CEP).  It is equipped with a variety of warheads including multi-purpose, blast fragmentation, and penetration. It takes LORA 7 minutes less than the Iskander complex to prepare for the fire. During this time, LORA can cover a distance of 210 km.

Four sealed missiles can be carried on a 16t flatbed truck for ground operations. LORA missile system can be fired from either mobile or maritime platforms, and there is no doubt that this will create certain problems for Armenia. 4 LORA warheads, which can be fired from different platforms against 2 "Iskanders", make a triple advantage, not a double, in terms of weight and impact force.

Some Armenian sources state that the "Iron Dome" complex owned by Azerbaijan is not effective against "Iskander" missiles, these are the views for the internal audience. Enough to say that today the most modern and effective missile defence systems in the world are produced in Israel, a major military-technical partner of Azerbaijan. On the other hand, Israeli-made systems prove their capabilities not only in tests and exercises, but also in real battles. There is no need to list them.

Former Armenian defence minister (1999-2000), Lieutenant General Vagharshak Harutiunyan, was repeatedly remembered for his absurd statements that the Iskander complexes could strike a devastating blow to Azerbaijan and destroy Azerbaijan's Baku, Sumgayit, and Ganja.

Interestingly, Pashinyan appointed Vagharshak, a populist like himself, as his adviser after these statements. The deputy chairman of the Yerkrapah military organization Harutyunyan also regulates cooperation with the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and an illegal "military unit" in the occupied territories of Karabakh.

The Armenian military leadership again raises the issue of using more long-range complexes after their defeats in recent battles. This confirms the high probability of withdrawing from the larger occupied areas. In other words, Armenia consoles the internal audience by saying that it may use the "Iskander" OTMC.

The Armenian leadership should at least pay attention to the unsuccessful use of "Iskander" complexes in the Russian-Georgian war, or using in Tajikistan or Kazakhstan. In general, these complexes have not yet played a deterrent or decisive role in the fate of any conflict.

By military expert Edalet Verdiyev



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