A missile firing unit (MFU) of the SPYDER-SR system
Type Short and medium range air defence system
Place of origin Israel
Used by See Operators
Wars Russo-Georgian War (unconfirmed)
Designer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Israel Aerospace Industries
Manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Weight 105 kg (231 lb) (Python-5)
118 kg (260 lb) (Derby)
Length 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in) (Python-5)
3.62 m (11 ft 11 in) (Derby)
Diameter 160 mm (6.3 in) (both)
Warhead 11 kg (24 lb) (Python-5)
23 kg (51 lb) (Derby)
Active laser and electromagnetic proximity fuse with back-up impact fuse
×4 Python-5 or Derby missiles in any combination per MFU
Wingspan 640 mm (2 ft 1 in) (both)
1–15 km (0.62–9.32 mi)
Flight altitude 20–9,000 m (66–29,528 ft)
Speed Mach 4
Infrared homing and electro-optical imaging (Python-5)
Active radar homing (Derby)
Mercedes-Benz Actros truck
MAN TGS truck
Scania P-series truck
India has signed an agreement with Israel to acquire 18 Spyder Surface to Air Missiles (SAMs) to protect high-value assets of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The plans to acquire the Spyder had been announced in 2006 but were on hold due to allegations of corruption over the Israeli Barak missiles deal for the Indian Navy signed four years ago. But as neither the IAF nor the Navy and Army have adequate missile defence protection, the government has been under pressure to do the needful for several years.
The Spyder deal was signed on 1st September with Rafael and Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI). There was no formal announcement but sources indicated that the delivery schedule should be within two to three years.
Spyder is a static low level, quick reaction missile (LLQRM) to neutralize hostile targets up to 15 km away, and at heights between 20 to 9000 meters. The Indian Air Force will also acquire the indigenous Akash Surface to Air Missile which has a little longer effective range of 25 km as part of a layered approach to defend its assets.
Both the Spyder and Akash are all weather missiles, 24 x 7 and 360 degrees with autonomous management and advanced Electronic Counter Counter Measures (ECCM) capability. It can be launched within five seconds, and once the commander has pressed the button, the process to seek and engage an aggressive aircraft or missile is automatic.
The Spyder consists of the Python 5 IR guided, and Derby RF guided Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles, both with Lock-on Before Launch (LOBL) and Lock-on After Launch (LOAL) modes, for faster response time and improved engagement flexibility. Besides aircraft and UAVs, they can also neutralize low-level cruise missiles.
Each Spyder unit has four missiles in ready to fire launch containers for multi-target engagement, and up to six of these units can be deployed around one asset and under one commander.
The air force had sent a Request for Proposals (RfP) mid-2005 to Russia, France, South Africa, Switzerland, Israel, Poland, and the United Kingdom.
The Spyder was finally chosen after field trials of various missiles. It may be noted that the political leadership in 1990 had put a virtual block on all military purchase programmes, and there was no periodic replacement or upgradation of equipment for several years. The Indian Army, Navy and Air Force had been conserving the Soviet vintage weapons till 1999, when Pakistani occupation of territories on the Indian side of the border led to a war, and the routine replacement and acquisition process restarted.
The three services have been pointing out that their major assets, from airbases and ships to command headquarters, would be nearly “naked’ if there was an aggression and that a missile defence cover was required without any more delay.
All of them are now in various stages of acquiring defensive missiles with different ranges and capabilities, but it would be a few years – say 3 to 5 – for them to really an effective capability.
Meanwhile, the US ams technology major Raytheon has let it be known that it is offering its famed Patriot missile to the Indian Army in an international bid for Medium Range (MR) missiles – with a range of 60 km. The tenders for the RfP in this regard are due for submission in October.
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