Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Lightning Barak 8

The Lightning Barak 8

The Barak 8 Missile

           India announced its recognition of Israel on September 17, 1950. Since then India and Israel have enjoyed an extensive economic, military and strategic relationship. Israel is a very major partner for India’s defense industry growth. Israel is India’s third largest weapon supplier just before America and Russia. India recently launched a military satellite for Israel through its Indian Space Research Organization. By 1997, the first weapons deal between the two nations, involving the purchase of Barak 1 vertically-launched surface-to-air (SAM) missiles from Israel was signed. This signaled the start of a long relationship between the two countries. Israel was one of the selected few nations, a group that also included France and Russia, that did not condemn India's 1998 Pokhran-II nuclear tests. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has serviced several large contracts with the Indian Air Force including the upgrading of the IAF's Russian-made ground attack aircraft.  In 1996 India purchased 32 IAI Searcher unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). By 2008, Israel surpassed Russia as the largest arms supplier to India. In November 2009 Israel signed a $1.1 billion contract to supply an upgraded tactical Barak 8 air defense system to India.

          The Indian forces a strong need for a capable SAM (Surface to Air Missile) for protecting its defense installations and the naval platforms from Arial attacks. After various studies and with the battle proven Barak 1 in the arsenal the Indian government signed a $ 1.1 billion deal with Israel’s IAI for co-developing Barak 8 with DRDO as an acting partner. IAI and DRDO finally agreed to design an missile based on the Barak 1 platform with advanced technology and range extensions. The resulting missile was named Barak 8, Barak is the Hebrew word for lightning. With air to ground platforms constantly evolving battlefield needs increasing a sound technologically advanced missile was needed to counter the threats. Countries initially invested in SAM’s primarily to take out huge Radar Cross Section (RCS) Fighters. The  F 117 and B 2 did more sorties with lower kill rate. But the old SAM’s were not the answer for the sophisticated cruise missiles , if the counties needed any cover from the Cruise missiles a very sophisticated missile system that is both capable of engaging and shooting down the Cruise missile was need.

            Israel is a country that has been under constant rocket fire from the pro-Palestine forces. Israel has also been under constant watch of Syria and Egypt. Hence the Barak 8 was even more crucial for Israel. Equipped with the Yaknot cruise missile the Syrian and Egyptian forces are always a threat to Israeli Naval ships and off shore installations. With China and Pakistan inching away with Cruise missile technology India signed a deal for co-development of the missile.

          While India provided smokeless motor Israel came up with seeker missile which was ready for integration with high powered MF STAR Radar. The MF STAR radar is a very versatile system that could track objects in a 360’ pattern. The sea skimming missiles are extremely tough to be intercepted but armed with the Seeker technology and the robust MF STAR radar the Barak 8 could easily intercept the threat. The MF STAR Radar is capable of detecting a sea skimming missile at the range of 500 mts to 70 kilo meters. It is rumored that during a secret test off Israeli coast Barak 8 successfully intercepted four Brahmos cruise missile which was fired from Land based Brahmos Battery platform. The hit rate was claimed to be 99 %. The Brahmos was fired in a salvo when the Barak 8 intercepted 4 of the missiles and destroying all the missiles. The dual pulse smokeless motor which was supplied by India turned out to be a grand success. The motors completed all the tests maneuvering during the Interception process. The missile is claimed to have completed a U-Turn while flying at 2 mach.

MR SAM configuration for Indian Army Based on Barak 8

        MF STAR radar was produced in two versions, a smaller version for Frigates and Corvettes. Larger radar was fitted out on destroyers; the MF STAR on the Destroyer is capable of tracking a threat from as far as 500 kilometers. It’s capable of tracking 300 Surface/Air targets at a time and engages 16 targets simultaneously. The Radar can be networked to other smaller platforms radar and firing system and can be used to fire missiles from other smaller firing units hiding the Flag ship.

      Usually missiles launched against a ship are not dropped directly above the ships rather it is fired from a considerable distance. The missiles are usually fired from outside Air defense bubble to evade the detection under a radar system. 

         The naval version of Barak 8 was tested in 2009 and with minute up gradations has been time and again test fired. The system has now successfully passed the tests and is under active production. The missile will now be integrated to naval platforms. The first platform will be the Kolkata Class destroyer of the Indian navy. The latest carrier of the Indian navy, Vikramaditya will be fitted out with the Barak 8 systems. In the coming years the Barak 8 will be out fitted as the primary LR-SAM for the Indian Navy.

Land Based Barak 8 Launcher Unit and Missile
        Army is currently using the decade old S 125 as a LR-SAM platform. This system has a interception range of about 35 kilometers. Army is looking for the Indigenous Akash Missile system as a replacement. But with the range of Akash limited the army is looking forward for the Barak-8 which would drastically increase the interception range of the Army. The Army has placed orders for 18 Regiments of Barak 8 system which would be used as a effective MR SAM.

The Air Defense Bubble of the Indian Air Force is limited to only 35 kilometers. With an view to increase their effective Air defense bubble Indian Air Force has opted for the Barak 8 systems.

With the Induction of Barak 8 the Indian armed forces will be armed with decent missile defense Capability which could a long way in intercepting any missiles fired from across the border. 

Editor Karthk Kakoor 


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