Israeli BARAK MX system succeeded in Slovakia
The conflicts of recent years have significantly underlined the importance of air and missile defence. It is therefore not surprising that many European countries want to significantly strengthen their capabilities in this area. Slovakia is no exception, having chosen the Israeli BARAK MX solution as the most suitable medium-range air defence system. It is also worth mentioning that this will not be the first military equipment for the Slovak army produced by the Israeli defence industry, as Slovakia officially purchased 17 3D radars from Elta Systems, a company under the Israel Aerospace Industry Corporation, in 2021.
Building modern air defence capabilities can be considered one of the key modernisation projects this year. Divided into a total of five stages, the Slovak army is to be equipped with modern air defence and missile defence systems at all levels by 2035. As part of the first stage, the Slovak Ministry of Defence sought the best options for the purchase of portable very short-range air defence sets and one medium-range air defence system. It was in the latter category that the BARAK MX system of Israeli provenance was selected as the most suitable. Based on the required criteria of the Slovak army, the Israeli system scored 95% of the points and thus stood out in the competition with Spyder, IRIS-T and VL MICA systems. According to the analysis of the Value for Money Unit of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, the bid for the BARAK MX system was also the best value for money, with one set offered for EUR 128.1 million.
The BARAK MX system is currently one of the most advanced air defence systems in the world. The kit, from the portfolio of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), was designed to protect land and water-based facilities from a variety of airborne threats. The kit was first operationally deployed in 2016. The BARAK MX system consists of a total of 3 launchers, each equipped with eight missiles. IAI offers three types of missiles for the launchers, with a range of 35, 70 and, in the extended range version, up to 150 kilometres. All available missiles also use advanced radio frequency signal detectors, enabling the system to detect and track targets in all weather and visibility conditions. The system's effectiveness is further enhanced by the ability of the launchers to operate in autonomous mode, where data feeds are used to lock on, track and disarm the target, ensuring that each missile is locked on to a pre-defined target, avoiding double targeting.
An equally important feature is the compatibility of the BARAK MX system with all radars from Elta Systems, a subsidiary of IAI. It is from Elta that Slovakia ordered 17 multi-purpose 3D radars in March 2021 to replace outdated and obsolete radars from the Cold War era. The Slovak defence industry will also be involved in this project and Israel is the only country that has guaranteed a certain level of cooperation with Slovak industry for the BARAK MX system.
Despite the fact that so far no NATO country has BARAK MX systems in its arsenal, IAI has already had several export successes with this product. The BARAK MX is deployed in the Indian Navy, Air Force and Ground Forces, Morocco signed a contract for the delivery of the BARAK MX system in 2022 and Colombia purchased the same system in January this year. IAI is also offering the BARAK MX system to the Australian Armed Forces and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Australian company Daronmont Technologies for this purpose in March this year.
With the acquisition of the BARAK MX system, Slovakia will acquire a highly sophisticated and high quality air defence system from the Israeli manufacturer IAI. The fact that IAI is one of the world's leading companies in the field of air defence is evidenced by the recent signing of a contract for the delivery of its Arrow 3 system to Germany as part of the European Sky Shield Initiative (ESSI) project, which aims to create a comprehensive, multi-level air and missile defence system on the European continent.