Slovakia starts the process of building modern air defence
Air defence is one of the key topics intensively discussed in professional military circles today. In some countries, including Slovakia, this part of defence capabilities has long been overlooked. Slovakia today has practically lost almost all of its capabilities in the area of air defence, which the Slovak Ministry of Defence has realised, among other things due to the fighting in Ukraine, and has therefore started to prepare plans for the acquisition of modern air defence assets.
Slovakia's plans for rebuilding air defence capabilities are based on a feasibility study of air defence firepower acquisition projects from February this year. The study discusses, among other things, the current deplorable state of Slovak air defence. Today, the 11th Air Force Brigade in Nitra is armed with four operational 2K12 Kub anti-aircraft systems, 54 portable 9K38 Igla kits and two MANTIS kits donated by Germany.
Until the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Slovak Air Force was also armed with the S-300 PMU system, which Slovakia subsequently donated to Ukraine. It should also be mentioned that the only modernisation project in the field of air defence is the acquisition of 17 3D radars from Israel. Specifically, 6 ELM-2084 MMR radars, 5 ELM-2084 S-MMR/GBAD radars and 6 ELM-2138M MC radars are to be delivered to the Air Force.
The acquisition of the new air defence systems is to be carried out in four stages. In the course of them, the Ministry of Defence intends to purchase portable and mobile very short- and short-range air defence systems, as well as medium- and long-range air defence systems, C-UAS (anti-drone defence) or C-RAM (defence against rocket, artillery and mortar munitions). The aim is to procure these assets by 2035, i.e. in accordance with the Ministry of Defence's Long-Term Development Plan with a view to 2035. The first phase is to involve the purchase of one mobile medium-range air defence system and 12 portable anti-aircraft systems, worth EUR 196 450 677 million. In addition to the aforementioned assets, this first phase expenditure includes 6 trucks for the air defence system, the integration of a 3D radar, 5 Falcon 4 radios and associated logistics costs. The other phases of the project would then take place depending on the MoD budget between 2027 and 2035.
The MoD intends to start the first phase of the acquisition of new air defence assets as soon as possible. Slovakia has already approached 11 countries that have the capacity and capability to deliver the required systems. It is expected that the offers from the approached countries will be delivered to the Ministry of Defence by the end of July and the purchase will take place through an intergovernmental agreement (G2G). Although the Ministry did not specify which countries it has approached with its request for offers, it can be assumed that it will be, for example, the USA, Israel, South Korea, France or Germany.
Air defence is an important and irreplaceable element of national defence and although the process of building a modern and more robust Slovak air defence is at an early stage, Slovakia's move can certainly be seen as correct and positive. After all, air defence is crucial for the protection of the country's critical infrastructure and is also important for the protection of manoeuvring ground troops, as the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, including the development of unmanned aerial vehicles and new technologies in this field, confirms.