Greece considers Rafael’s SPYDER anti-aircraft system offer

Greece’s military is currently undergoing a comprehensive modernization plan. This modernization wave is significantly impacting the Hellenic Air Force [HAF], particularly following the acquisition of Dassault Rafale fighters from France and the approval to purchase a minimum of 20 F-35 Lightning IIs from the United States. In light of these dynamic shifts, Greece is also looking to enhance its air defense capabilities.  

Greece considers Rafael's SPYDER anti-aircraft system offer
Photo credit: RADS

On April 17, key representatives from the Israeli defense corporation, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems [RADS], attended a strategic meeting with the General Staff of the Air Force, or GEA, in Athens. One of the attendees, Mr. Miha Ron, who serves as the regional director of RADS, provided a comprehensive overview of the functionalities of the SPYDER anti-aircraft system, a popular product of the company.  

Currently, Greece’s air defense arsenal is a blend of technology from three countries — the US, Russia, and France. From the US, it utilizes six MIM-104 Patriot squadrons and 20 RIM-7 Sea Sparrow launchers, the latter of which are deployed by the Hellenic Navy. It incorporates Russian technology through four squadrons of the TOR M1 and one squadron of the S-300 PMU 1 system. The French have contributed to Greece’s air defense with nine units of the short-range Crotale NG systems.

Greece considers Rafael's SPYDER anti-aircraft system offer
Photo credit: RADS

The SPYDER system is an anti-aircraft solution designed to function optimally within short to medium-range scenarios. However, the exact variant of the SPYDER system discussed in the Athens meeting is not specified, according to BulgarianMilitary.com. 

Manufactured by Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the SPYDER [Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby] is a mobile air defense system adept at intercepting a selection of airborne threats. These threats can range from aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs], to precision-guided munitions. 

This innovative system owes its capabilities to the Python-5 and Derby missiles, which are both remarkable inventions from Rafael. The Python-5 is a short-range air-to-air missile, while the Derby is designed to operate within a medium range. A standout feature of both missiles is their “lock-on after launch” [LOAL] ability, which allows these missiles to be launched in the general vicinity of a target and then ‘lock-on’ during flight.

The real beauty of the Spyder system lies in its adaptability. It can seamlessly integrate with a variety of radar types and command and control systems. The system offers two versions – the SPYDER-SR [short range] and SPYDER-MR [medium range]. As their names suggest, the SR variant is designed to counter short-range threats, while the MR variant is engineered to handle medium-range threats. 

The system’s radar operates within the microwave spectrum, an attribute that enables it to identify targets based on their radar cross-section, speed, and trajectory, in addition to its detection and tracking capabilities. 

When a potential threat is detected, crucial data is instantly conveyed to the central command and management unit. This primary control station then mobilizes, taking the responsibility of evaluating potential risks and making critical decisions. Using advanced algorithms, it evaluates the incoming data, determining whether the detected object is a threat that necessitates engagement.

The Spyder system comes into play when a decision to engage a target has been made, launching its surface-to-air rockets. Equipped with an impressive two-tier propulsion system, these rockets can rapidly reach superb speeds and elevations. They also offer great maneuverability, making them adept at handling swift and nimble targets. 

The system’s radar and a built-in homing system supervise the trajectory of the missiles. The radar continues updating the target’s position, while the onboard guiding system in the latter stage of the flight focuses on the target. This dual-guidance technique enhances the chances of precise hits and importantly, minimizes the likelihood of the missiles being intercepted. 

Once the missile reaches its intended target, it detonates its warhead. Designed to cause the maximum degree of destruction, the warhead is effective whether it directly hits the target or merely comes close. The explosive fragments have enough firepower to heavily damage or annihilate the target and hence, successfully neutralize the threat.

It’s fair to say that SPYDER offers an economical solution to mobile air defense needs. Once Greece gives the green light and accepts Rafael’s proposition, it will join the ranks of 10 other nations that are already operating the SPYDER.  

Take India, for instance, it is one of SPYDER’s top users. The system has been seamlessly integrated into the nation’s defense armory, enhancing its air defense capabilities. Singapore is also among the nations that utilize the SPYDER system. Vietnam, Georgia, Israel, and the Czech Republic are also on the list of SPYDER operators. Apart from Greece, both Georgia and Romania may soon join the ranks of SPYDER users.  
It’s worth mentioning that RADS successfully completed tests of the advanced, all-encompassing SPYDER air defense system at the start of this year, as reported by BulgarianMilitary.com. 

Rafael’s Senior Vice President and Chief of Air Defense Brig. Gen. [dir.] Finny Jungman astutely observed, “The recent trial of the all-in-one SPYDER system, in partnership with the Ministry of Defense MAFAT, stands as yet another technological advancement spearheaded by Rafael. Our aim is to ensure a high-quality operational response tailored to effectively counter the increasingly complex threats in various arenas.” He further added, “This marks a significant moment in our journey of developing systems to counter multiple threats. It stands as a testament to our exceptional capability in effectively intercepting challenging threats via ground-based systems.”

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