Czech Republic to Procure Israeli SPYDER Air Defense System

Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense has announced its decision to initiate negotiations with Israel to procure SPYDER air defense system for the Czech Army.

The Minister of Defense Lubomír Metnar informed the government of the decision on Sept. 25.

“Anti-aircraft missile systems, together with supersonic aircraft, form the basic pillars of air defense. Therefore, the acquisition of a new generation of anti-aircraft missile system capable of countering current means of air attack is a key strategic project of state defense and one of the main priorities of the ongoing modernization of the ACR”, said Minister Metnar.

The Defense Ministry statement said that the new anti-aircraft missile system are being procured to ensure the continuous defense of the airspace of the Czech Republic, especially the protection of troops and urban agglomerations, nuclear power plants, industrial centers, airports and other important facilities.

The military anticipates the acquisition of four batteries of short-range/medium-range anti-aircraft missile system (SHORAD/MRSAM) each equipped with its own 3D radar, command and control system, and four launchers. The new missile system will replace Czech Army’s Soviet-made 2K12 “Kub” (NATO reporting name: SA-6 “Gainful”) anti-aircraft systems which have been in service for 40 years.

The Ministry statement said that it assessed in detail a total of nine modern anti-aircraft missile systems from seven manufacturers for the procurement before selecting the SPYDER anti-aircraft missile system from the Israeli state-owned company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as the most suitable system for its specific conditions and needs.

The statement added that the selection was based on market research, consultations with allies, official manufacturers for information (RFI, Request For Information), an industry day and a feasibility study.

The Defense Ministry expects the contract negotiations for the government-to-government (GTG) agreement with Israel to conclude by early 2021 with the initial deliveries of a new missile system expected in 2023. The Ministry estimates the contract to be worth CZK 10 billion (~$430 million).

“An important part of the negotiations will be the share of involvement of Czech industry. In short, the Ministry of Defense aims to contractually secure at least 30% of Czech companies’ share in the acquisition and integration of a new weapons system, as well as contractually provide logistical support for the entire life cycle of twenty years or more by an entity based in the Czech Republic”, the Ministry statement noted.

The Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD) has also confirmed that it was informed by the Czech Ministry of Defense of the procurement.

“This is another significant step in strengthening security relations between our two countries, and it is also great news for Israeli defense industries during such a complex period”, said Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

SPYDER Air Defense System

The SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) is a quick reaction, short- to medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. with assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

The missile system is designed to counter attacks by a variety of aerial threats including aircraft, helicopters and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) and provides point and area defense for fixed assets and mobile forces in combat areas.

As the name suggests, the SPYDER system employs Rafael’s Python-5 and Derby missiles in surface-to-air mode which share full commonality with the air-to-air missiles (AAMs).

The Python-5 features an advanced electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) homing (with imaging infrared, IIR) seeker which scans the target area for hostile aircraft, then locks-on for terminal chase. The Derby is an active radar homing AAM that provides the SPYDER missile system with a fire-and-forget option due to its active radar guidance.

SPYDER-SR Derby missile launch
Derby missile being launched from SPYDER-SR air defense missile system. Photo Credit: Rafael.

There are two variants of the SPYDER: the short range SPYDER-SR and the medium range SPYDER-MR. For the SPYDER-SR, the maximum altitude of interception is 9 km and the maximum range of interception is 15 km. The SPYDER-MR has a greater operation range of 35 km and an altitude engagement of 16 km due to the missiles being equipped with boosters.

The SPYDER-SR uses the IAI Elta Systems’ EL/M-2106 ATAR (Advanced Tactical Acquisition Radar) radar for target acquisition while the SPYDER-MR incorporates the EL/M-2084 multi-mission radar (MMR).

SPYDER-SR laucher truck
SPYDER-SR air defense missile system mounted on a MAN truck. Photo Credit: Rafael.
SPYDER-MR (medium range) quick-reaction surface-to-air missile (QRSAM) system.

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