Air Defense: Barak 8 Goes Amphibian

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July 21, 2016: In mid-2016 Israel tested and approved one of its most effective naval anti-aircraft systems, the Barak 8 for use on land. Barak 8 entered service in 2014, over a year before its scheduled 2015 service date because Russia had sent high speed Yakhont anti-ship missiles to Syria. These missiles have a range of about 300 kilometers and a 200 kg (440 pound) warhead. Barak 8 was designed to deal with this kind of threat and was first installed on three existing Saar 5 corvettes that regularly operated near Lebanon.

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 is being developed to shoot down short range ballistic missiles. 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 three 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 under two tons. The land version can be mounted on trucks.

Israel is expected to mount this version of Barak 8 on some of the off-shore platforms guarding newly developed offshore natural gas fields. Israel began pumping natural gas in 2013 from deposits discovered and developed since 2008. Israeli firms have found over $200 billion worth of oil and gas there so far. Israel is determined to use these finds to achieve energy independence by the end of the decade. But first the offshore facilities and pipelines have to be defended from terrorists and military threats. Some of the offshore gas wells are within range of rockets fired from Gaza or southern Lebanon (where Hezbollah does as it wants). The unguided rockets are not accurate enough to hit a gas well, unless dozens (or more) were fired at once. To deal with this threat Iron Dome anti rocket systems have also been tested and approved for use on the new Saar 6 corvettes and existing Saar 5 corvettes.

Hezbollah could also use their more accurate C-802 anti-ship missiles (range 120 kilometers). This is a Chinese weapon that Iran produces its own version of. It’s a 6.8 meter (21 foot) long, 360mm diameter, 682 kg (1,500 pound) missile with a 165kg (360 pound) warhead. It can be jammed or intercepted, but equipping the offshore platforms with these devices and manning them 24/7 is expensive. Barak 8 can also handle the C-802.

Germany is building six Saar 6 class corvettes for Israel. These ships are based on the new European 130 class, a 1,800 ton warship that is the latest upgrade of the Meko line of ships. By modifying the 130 design Israel wants the Germans to build what amounts to a larger version of their successful Saar family of warships for about $146 million each. This includes a large “genocide guilt” discount. Right now the largest Saar ships are the three 1,075 ton Saar 5s.

The 130 class ships are currently armed with a 76mm gun, two 27mm autocannon, a RAM anti-missile/aircraft system and BS15 anti-ship missiles. The Israelis will apparently substitute some systems with comparable weapons from other sources, like Barak 8 anti-aircraft missiles and Iron Dome anti-rocket systems. The 130 class ships have a max speed of 46 kilometers an hour and normal endurance of 10-12 days. Crew size is 60-70.

 


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