Military experts propose counter-measures for US missile defense elements

Russian defense experts argue that deploying Iskander tactical missile systems in the Kaliningrad region is not the most effective way to counter US missile defense elements; Russia should use the X-55 cruise missile as well.

Army General Petr Deinekin, former Chief Commander of the Russian Air Force, stated recently that Russia could make a fairly effective response to US missile defense deployment in Eastern Europe by means of the X-55 cruise missile, which can be carried by Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers; since deploying Iskander tactical missile systems in the Kaliningrad region is not the most effective way to counter US missile defense elements.

Deinekin noted that “the X-55 missile is a first-strike weapon.” It can hit targets up to 2,500 kilometers away, and would be a significant supplement to measures taken by the Kremlin in response to the deployment of US missile defense elements in the Czech Republic and Poland. According to Deinekin, the X-55 missile has all the characteristics of Stealth technology and is difficult to detect while in flight, even by American spy-satellites.

It should be noted that as a result, Russia’s response to American missile defenses in Europe has turned out to be not very professional. With his characteristic tact, Deinekin says: “In order to develop a complete and appropriate set of counter-measures, this problem must be viewed from all sides and discussed at the level of top-class specialists.”

The X-55 missile’s creator – Academician Igor Seleznev, chief designer at the Raduga Bureau – expressed full support for Deinekin’s plan, agreeing that the Iskander on its own would clearly be insufficient. However, he corrected Deinekin to some extent. According to Seleznev, the new X-555 non-strategic cruise missile would be more appropriate to the task. It was tested and put into production in 2005. Its range is around 3,500 kilometers. This missile can change altitudes while in flight, and fly close to the ground, curving its flight path according to terrain. The X-555 can be fitted with armor-piercing, cumulative, fragmentation, or explosive payloads weighing over 350 kilograms. It is also capable of high-precision targeting.

Thus, experts regard the measures announced by President Medvedev as insufficient. Deinekin’s proposals are entirely reasonable. Using strategic cruise missiles could be an entirely effective counter-measure to Washington’s plans. But Colonel General Viktor Yesin, former chief-of-staff for the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN), says that by the time the US missile defense elements are deployed in Europe, the Iskander system’s range could be doubled (to 500 kilometers); and the obsolete UR-100NUTTX (SS-19) strategic missiles in Kozelsk silos could be replaced by new ICBMs of a similar class.

But these are only plans. There is a long way to go before they are implemented, and the global financial crisis is a factor here. Meanwhile, top specialists regard the announced measures about the White House’s plans to divert the blow of retribution in Europe from itself as not entirely asymmetric, to put it mildly, under the current circumstances.