Russia to expand Iskander arsenal in 2019, test 200 new weapons
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Russia to expand Iskander arsenal in 2019, test 200 new weapons

"In 2019, the process of reequipping the missile troops of the Russian Ground Forces with the Iskander-M missile systems will be completed. In accordance with the state defense order, the manufacturer will hand a unit of the Iskander-M systems over to the Western Military District," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. Capable of hitting targets 500 kilometers away, the precision-guided missile can be used against multiple-launch rocket systems, long-range artillery guns, command posts and communications centers. The Iskander-M missiles are designed to perform special maneuvers at extreme speeds and release decoys to bypass all existing missile defense systems, according to the Russian defense ministry. Russia has already deployed Iskander-M missile batteries in its Western Military District as a response to the NATO military alliance's US-led buildup in the Baltic States -- Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.   Besides the cutting-edge missiles, Russia is preparing to test about 200 new types of weapons at the Kapustin Yar range in the southern Astrakhan Region. "In 2019, about 200 new types of weapons are planned to be tested, which is commensurate with the 2018 number and half as many as in 2017," the statement said. According to the ministry, Russia has been steadily increasing the number of weapons tests at the site over the past two years. "As steps are being taken to implement the state rearmament program, the range of tested items will expand in the two years to come," the Russian defense ministry said. Launched in 2018, the state armament program seeks to improve defenses around critical military facilities while developing new weapons and military gear, including intelligence equipment, precision weapons guidance systems as well as hypersonic and supersonic weapons. Russia holds major drills in south Meanwhile, thousands of Russian military forces staged a major anti-terrorism drill in the country's Southern Military District on Tuesday. "Among participants in the drills were around 5,000 servicemen, around 1,500 units of military equipment, including aircraft from the 4th Army of the Russian Air Force, ships from the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla," said a press release by the Russian defense ministry. The drills explored tactics on countering illegal crossings into military territories. Russian marines and warships from the Black Sea Fleet and Caspian Flotilla also exercised countering terrorists and evacuating civilian personnel. The Russian military forces' ability to respond to radiation, chemical and biological attacks were also evaluated.

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