The Barak family of missiles developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) just got boosters that will allow them to hit targets at a longer range. Its new Barak Extended Range (ER) Interceptor can reach out to 150km said the company in mid-April. The new rocket gives users a variety of options from variants that have a range of 35, 70 and now 150km ranges. They are integrated into a single battle management systems with a unified launcher. They also have naval- and land-based versions.
“The Barak Air Defense System is a modern yet mature, operationally proven system that maximizes the capabilities required to meet threats today, in particular, against ballistic targets. The system has both naval and land versions,” said Boaz Levy, IAI President and CEO. “Only select companies in the world possess such comprehensive capabilities. The extensive firing trials to which the system was subjected under difficult land and sea conditions is the best proof of the system’s capabilities,” he noted.
In a discussion with the media on April 19, IAI detailed the successful test and production of the Barak ER missile. The missile is part of the larger context of Israel’s success at creating among the world’s best air defense systems. Israel uses Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow missiles to defend its airspace against a plethora of threats. In the last year, these systems have been tested and shown to work together in an integrated, multi-layered manner. All of this is also a part of U.S. and Israeli close cooperation on air defense.
IAI’s Barak 8 missile, a naval version of the Barak, has been used by Israel’s navy and India, for air defense. The company has sold some $7 billion dollars of these missiles. New threats mean understanding the new environment air defenders must operate in. Levy says that modern forces need to be able to intercept threats coming from 360 degrees. It also means being ready to confront large drones, ballistic missiles and planes. Cruise missiles and gliding bombs also need to be taken down.
The Barak defense system works like other air defense systems on land. It has a missile battery that can be moved around on a truck and then deployed quickly. That battery is then linked to a radar and command. “The modular approach, and the smart launchers, fit customer demand for utmost flexibility on the battlefield and in procurement given budget constraints. As such, BARAK provides an optimal solution for the present and future battlefield,” says Levy. Multiple batteries can be connected to the same net. It can also operate on land and sea at the same time, so that there can be overlapping coverage with ships off shore helping to cover land-based assets. The new 150km missile range helps achieve this. The name of the game these days is to deploy as fast as you can, says IAI. New seekers and greater lethality have been achieved, the company says. IAI’s Elta subsidiary also makes the MMR radar that is used for this system and Israel’s Iron Dome. The successful radar has been sold in Europe and around the world.
Israel has faced air defense challenges since the Scud missile threat in the First Gulf War revealed how ballistic missiles can harm the country. Israel has raced to develop missiles to stop these threats in the last decades, celebrating decades with the Arrow systems in development and operational and ten years with the Iron Dome system. The Barak family of missiles is another success story that grew out of the investments in air defense.
Air defense batteries are costly and so are the interceptors. In addition, countries need several batteries to cover an area the size of Israel, for instance. A larger country would need more than a dozen batteries depending on the amount of coverage they need. Israel’s new Sa’ar 6 naval corvettes will receive the Barak missiles. India is a major purchaser of Barak and recent reports also indicated that Azerbaijan uses the system. IAI says it is “one of the world’s most advanced defense systems. Operationally proven, it is used by several armies worldwide, including the Israeli Navy, India’s air-force, army and navy, and additional customers.”
Israel’s success at developing new systems like this, alongside its use of advanced F-35I stealth fighter jets and other weapons, makes it one of the most innovative militaries in the world. This comes amid new threats and tensions with Iran. It also comes as IAI teams up with companies from India to the United Kingdom to offer new systems to various militaries. Earlier in April IAI said it was working with the company Thales in the United Kingdom to offer its Sea Serpent anti-ship missile to the Royal Navy.
Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum. He is the author of After ISIS: America, Iran and the Struggle for the Middle East (Gefen Publishing) and Drone Wars: Pioneers, Killing Machines, Artificial Intelligence, and the Battle for the Future (Forthcoming, Bombardier Books). Follow him on Twitter at @sfrantzman.