Air Defense: The Perfect Stadium Protection


November 28, 2017: In late 2017 Brazil received the first portion of the 14 Swedish RBS-70 antiaircraft systems it ordered earlier in the year. The rest of the systems and a simulator will arrive in 2018 and 2019. Brazil was already a user, having ordered 16 RBS-70 systems in 2014 for use protecting major sporting events held in urban areas. RBS-70 is uniquely suited for this.

Each RBS-70 system consists of a tripod mounted launcher and fire control system and a variable number of missile reloads (each weighing 17 kg/37 pounds in a sealed canister). A complete RBS-70 system weighs 87 kg (191 pounds). The missile has a range of 8,000 meters and a max altitude of 5,000 meters. The warhead weighs 1.1 kg (39 ounces) and has a proximity fuze (that can be turned off so that the missile has to hit the target, not just come close). Unlike most small anti-aircraft missiles RBS-70 is not a heat seeker but is directed to the target via a laser guidance which means the operator has to keep a laser aimed at the target until the missile hits. The missile moves at about a kilometer every three seconds. Each complete system costs about $640,000.

Brazil chose RBS-70 as part of the security it was required to provide for the football (soccer) World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Thus the operator controlled RBS-70 missile is preferred as the terrorist aircraft or UAV may be used in a sky filled with legitimate aircraft. Also the RBS-70 cannot be jammed or confused as can heat seeking or radar guided missiles. Brazil found those unique features worthwhile and that led to the order for more RBS-70.

RBS-70 was introduced in 1977 and has been continually improved. Some 1,900 systems have been delivered so far and there have been two major upgrades. A new missile was introduced in 2005 and then in 2011 there were major upgrades to the fire control system and the introduction of a simulator model for realistic training. It has been exported to 19 countries. Despite that the Swedish Armed forces are replacing it with a heat seeker based on the IRIS-T air-to-air missile. That is because the main threat Sweden has to face is Russia, and that requires a more robust air defense system.


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