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Czech Republic opts for Israeli air-defense systems

Spyder air-defense system
Photo: Rafael

After years of delays, the Czech Republic has finally selected a new air defense system that will replace the Soviet-built 2K 12M KUB M systems.

According to a Czech defense ministry announcement from September 25, the country will start negotiations with Israel for the acquisition of the Rafael-developed Spyder short to medium range air-defense systems (SHORAD/MRSAM).

A total of nine systems from seven producers were evaluated before the Spyder was selected.

As noted by the defense ministry, the negotiations are expected to be completed by the beginning of 2021, while the systems themselves could start arriving in 2023. Should the new air-defense systems be delivered according to plan, it would still mean a three-year delay as the 40-year-old KUB M systems were originally scheduled to be decommissioned in 2020.

The Czech defense ministry intends to buy four Spyder batteries, each equipped with its own 3D radar, fire command and control system, and four launchers. The deal has an estimated value of $430 million.

According to Rafael, the modular Spyder systems incorporate the Python-5 dual waveband IIR missile, the I-Derby active radar BVR and the I-Derby ER long-range missile. The missiles can also be used for ground-to-air missions. Spyder’s open architecture design enables adding up external components, such as radars, the company says.

The choice of Israeli air-defense systems comes after the Czech defense ministry signed a contract in December last year with Israel Aerospace Industries for the delivery of eight ELM-2084 Iron Dome multimission radars (MMRs). The radars are to be delivered between 2021 and 2023.