The Philippines Air Force received its crew training simulator in April and is training the crews for the first two batteries of Israeli Spyder MR mobile air defense systems. These were ordered in 2019. A third battery and a Spyder maintenance facility arrives in 2023.
The Philippines ordered three Spyder batteries for its new GBADS (Ground-Based Air Defense System). Spyder was selected because it has, so far Spyder has been sold to eight countries, including two near the Philippines (Singapore and Vietnam) plus the Israeli military.
Spyder (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) has been around since 2005. Spyder is a vehicle (wheeled or tracked) mounted system. Most operators use trucks. A battery consists of six or more truck mounter launchers, each carrying four missiles. In addition, there is a truck mounted command and control center, a truck mounted radar, a service truck and a resupply truck. In 2016 the Israeli manufacturer of Spyder revealed an even more mobile version that uses tracked vehicles instead of wheeled ones. Each tracked vehicle carries four missiles plus short-range radar and fire control system. The Philippines ordered the truck-mounted systems and it is unclear how many launcher vehicles they ordered for each battery, which is getting the usual radar and control vehicles. The Philippines did not order the usual six launcher trucks for each battery but only three so the Philippines defense budget could afford it. More launcher trucks can be obtained later.
Spyder launchers can carry either the Python 5 heat seeking missile (3.2 meters/ten feet long, 105 kg/231 pounds, with a range of 15 kilometers) or the Derby radar guided missile (3.6 meter/11.2 feet long, 121.4 kg/267 pounds, with a range of 35 kilometers). The Derby is actually a larger Python, with more fuel and a radar-controlled guidance system. Python has an 11 kg (23 pound) warhead while the one on Derby is 23 kg (51 pound). The Israeli Spyder radar system has a maximum range of 110 kilometers. The missiles can hit targets as high as 16,000 meters (51,000 feet) and as low as 20 meters (63 feet). Spyder can adapt to several different models of truck and can be used with other radar systems. The Philippines Spyder batteries are using the ELM-2106 ATAR AESA radar with a max detection range of 180 kilometers and can classify and track up to 100 targets in any weather. That means fighters or bombers are detected 70-110 kilometers distant, hovering helicopters 40 kilometers away and UAVs at 40-60 kilometers.
Spyder is regularly upgraded as there are improvements in the Derby and Python missiles as well as associated radar and control systems. This is why the Spyder system maintenance facility is so important. System upgrades or modifications can be installed at the facility.
Spyder is the first SAM (Surface to Air Missile) system ever for the Philippines. In 2020 the Philippines Navy received the first of two South Korean frigates that had a MDBA SAM air defense system. The Filipino military is small, with 143,000 personnel, most (100,000) of them in the army. The defense budget is only $4.4 billion a year and much of that is being spent on equipping the air force and navy with modern weapons.