August 7, 2013: Israel is installing its new Barak 8 anti-aircraft missile on its three 1,075 ton Saar 5 class corvettes. This should be done by the end of the year, which will mean the system will be ready for action over a year before its scheduled 2015 service date. Israel is believed to be rushing this installation because Russia has sent high speed Yakhont anti-ship missiles to Syria, and Barak 8 was designed to deal with this kind of threat. Barak 8 is also Israel’s first air defense system equal to the American Patriot (and similar systems like the U.S. Navy SM-2, Russian S-300, and European Aster 15). An improved Barak 8 would be able to shoot down short range ballistic missiles.
This is a joint Indian-Israeli project, some 70 percent of the development work has been done in Israel although India will be the major customer. The two countries evenly split the $350 million development cost. India is buying $1.1 billion worth of Barak 8. Each Barak system (missile container, radar, computers, and installation) costs about $24 million. Azerbaijan has also bought Barak 8.
Back in 2009, Israel successfully tested its improved Barak 8 missile for the first time. The firing took place from a Saar 5 class corvette, against an incoming missile, which was successfully destroyed. The Barak 8 is a 275 kg (605 pound) missile with a 60 kg (132 pound) warhead and a range of 70 kilometers. The warhead has its own seeker that can find the target despite most countermeasures. The missiles are mounted in a 1.7 ton eight cell container (which requires little maintenance) and are launched straight up. The compact (for easy installation on a ship) fire control module weighs 1.3 tons.
The original Barak missiles cost about $1.6 million and weighed 98 kg (216 pounds) each with a 21.8 kg (48 pound warhead). The missiles are also mounted in an eight cell container. The radar system provides 360 degree coverage and the missiles can take down an incoming missile as close as 500 meters away from the ship. The missile has a range of ten kilometers and is also effective against aircraft. India has bought over $300 million worth of these systems.
Israel weapons have a solid reputation for reliability and effectiveness. Israeli success in several wars adds to the appeal of their armaments. U.S. and Israeli arms manufacturers often work together, which also gives Israel an edge when selling their equipment. The Barak has been exported to India, Chile, Singapore, and Venezuela.