A KUB (SA-6) missile system at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Photo: Michal Voska

The Czech government approved the launch of procurement negotiations for four Israeli “SPYDER” batteries, within the framework of a G2G agreement between the two countries. Israel was selected as the sole supplier for the project and the expected agreement between the countries’ defense ministries is estimated at over $400 million.

[wlm_ismember]Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar called the acquisition a strategic project of state defense, one of the main priorities of the ongoing modernization of the armed forces. As part of this acquisition, the military will replace the obsolete 2K12 KUB, (also known as SA-6 “Gainful”, inducted in 1991) reminiscent of the Soviet-era SAM system. The acquisition of the Short Range Air Defense Medium Range Surface Air Missile (SHORAD / MSAM) comprised of four batteries, each equipped with its own 3D radar, fire command and control system, and four launchers. The systems are required to meet rail and air transportation in C-130, C17, and A400M.

SPYDER (Surface-to-Air Python & Derby), is a quick reaction, low- to-high surface-to-air missile system designed to counter attacks by a variety of aerial threats including aircraft, helicopters, and UAVs. The system provides effective protection of valuable assets, as well as first-class defense for maneuvering forces located in combat areas. Addressing the Czech requirement for active-guided missiles, their SPYDER configuration is likely to use only the radar-guided I-Derby interceptors. Through the pre-tender process, Prague also evaluated the IRIS-T SLM from Diehl, NASAMS, by Kongsberg, the MEADS, proposed by Lockheed Martin and MBDA.[/wlm_ismember]

Israel has offered the Spyder system in a direct Government to Government (G2G) sale. Negotiations are expected to commence soon and conclude at the beginning of 2021. The estimated value of the contract is $428 million. Delivery of the systems is expected to begin in 2023 and span over two years. The SPYDER system includes a radar system produced by Elta, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Eight radars were acquired in 2019. The MADR systems will be delivered in 2021, tested, licensed, and inducted in service by 2023. The systems will be adapted to operate in accordance with the Czech and NATO command and control systems.

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An important part of the negotiations will be the share of the Czech industry involvement. Prague wants to secure at least 30% of the program to Czech companies, The truck-mounted system will employ locally produced Tatra 815-7 8×8 chassis with ballistic protected cabins. Other elements likely to be locally sourced are the integration of communications, datalinks and C3, training, and logistical support for at least 20 years.

SPYDER can be configured with loads of four or eight missiles, configured for slant or vertical launch. Photo: RAFAEL

The air-transportable SPYDER system comprises a Command and Control Unit
(CCU) with associated radar, 3-6 truck-mounted missile firing units (MFU), and support vehicles. The system’s open architecture design enables adding up external components, such as radars, datalinks, command and control. These missiles are dual-use missiles (can be employed for air-to-air or surface-to-air missions). The I-Derby is qualified for use with JAS-39 Gripen used by the Czech Air Force.

[wlm_ismember]The SPYDER SR and SPYDER ER-360 system employ a slant launching that provides low-level quick-reaction, Lock-On-Before-Launch (LOBL) and Lock-On-After-Launch (LOAL) capabilities. whereas the SPYDER-MR and SPYDER-LR offer medium and long range target interceptions through vertical launch. Both systems enable 360° launch within seconds after the target being declared hostile and provide all-weather, multi-launch, net-centric capabilities. A SPYDER unit can operate autonomously, or networked into a regional, national, or coalition air-defense system. It can detect targets while on-the-move, and launch missiles shortly after a halt.[/wlm_ismember]