Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has announced that it has upgraded its SPYDER air defense system with the ability to shoot down ballistic missiles. This enhancement was developed in response to the urgent operational requirements of several customers, including the Czech Republic. The program will thus significantly expand the missile capabilities of the SPYDER system.
“This extremely important missile defense function will be offered as an optional component of the SPYDER system. As part of a tailor-made solution, this capability is offered as a cost-effective option to our valued customers with relevant urgent operational needs.” stated the Director General of the Air Defense Systems Division Pinhas Yungman.
Rafael’s anti-missile program is based on research and analysis of experience gained from recent and ongoing armed conflicts involving the extensive use of tactical ballistic missiles. The SPYDER system was upgraded as part of the program, which includes hardware and software updates to the system and its DERBY-LR missiles. While new features have been added, all existing system capabilities have been retained, allowing all users to continue using SPYDER systems while adding new capabilities.
Czech Air Force
After ordering SPYDER systems by the previous cabinet, the current government supplemented the order with 48 pcs of I-Derby Long Range anti-aircraft missiles. “The war in Ukraine shows us how essential protection from air attacks is, whether it’s drones or standard air force. In order for our soldiers to be able to defend us against these threats when necessary, we need to equip them with modern technology, which is precisely these missiles.” said the minister of defense after the government meeting Jana Černochová (ODS).
A so-called option is part of the proposed contractual relationship. In case of its activation, it will be possible to purchase additional missiles in 6 categories, in the order of hundreds of pieces in total.
The Derby-LR can intercept targets at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers at a maximum distance of 80 km. The system is based on Rafael’s I-Derby ER system and is complemented by a booster that more than doubles the strike range from 40 to 80 km. The system has autonomous threat detection and 360° engagement capabilities within seconds of a target being declared hostile, in all weather, with multiple launch capabilities and with network targeting capabilities. All SPYDER systems have the ability to hit multiple targets to handle saturation attacks.
In addition to the launch vehicle, the missile has a two-stage rocket motor that enables optimal thrust control throughout the mission. The missile brain contains sophisticated algorithms to optimize the trajectory according to launch conditions and target behavior. The missile uses Rafael’s software-controlled radar seeker, which allows full operational flexibility by controlling all operational parameters through software.
This capability makes it possible to improve the missile’s performance against new threats such as electronic warfare and emerging air platforms. The software update process is fast and simple and can be done immediately during combat operations. The missile also uses two-way communication based on Rafael’s BNET Software-Defined Radio (SDR) operating system. The SPYDER air defense system was exported to 10 countries around the world, including the Czech Republic, which is a member of NATO. Finland is also interested in the system, but has not publicly announced its decision.
SPYDER is an air-transportable, quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system designed to counter attacks by aircraft, helicopters, drones and precision-guided munitions. Thanks to the new upgrade, it is able to intercept tactical ballistic missiles. Includes truck mounted radar, 3-6 missile launchers and support vehicles.
The author of the text is a military columnist and former soldier of the Czech Army. It focuses on security, history and international politics with an emphasis on the development of the Army of the Czech Republic and NATO armies. He publishes in professional and non-fiction media in the Czech Republic and abroad, and regularly comments on Czech television.