TEL AVIV — The Israeli Navy’s “ultimate answer” to the Russian Yakhont anti-ship sea-skimming cruise missile has been validated in India for land-based air defenders, according to India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), the prime contractor for the joint program known here as Barak-8.
The June 30 test of the Indian Air Force MRSAM – a medium-range, land-based version of the longer-ranged Barak-8 system produced for the Indian and Israeli navies – “validated all components of the weapon system to the satisfaction of the customer,” according to IAI.
According to a July 7 statement, Israeli and Indian program officials witnessed three flight tests, each one simulating “different extreme reference scenarios validating various system capabilities.” Launched from land-based mobile launchers, each of the three tests successfully destroyed targets simulating enemy threats.
“This is an important milestone in the cooperation between India and Israel and in the development of the MRSAM advanced air defense system,” said S Christopher, DRDO chief.
The vertically launched intercepting system, with a range of some 70 kilometers, provides persistent 360-degree coverage against saturation attacks by long-range missiles and a spectrum of air-breathing threats, including the Russian sea-skimming cruise missile known by its NATO designation SS-N-26.
“Barak-8 is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world in its sea-based and land-based versions. ... It is Israel’s answer to the latest threat to come from the north,” Levy said, referring to the long-range missiles sold to Syria and assumed to be in the hands of Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Boaz Levy, IAI executive vice president and general manager of the company's Systems Missiles and Space Group, said Barak-8 had been validated in operational tests in Israel and abroad over the past year. It provides the “ultimate answer” to the Russian Yakhont, which Levy said posed “a significant threat in the Middle East in general and to the Israel Navy in particular.”
According to Levy, the Barak-8 radar as well as the interceptor’s seeker, airframe, propulsion and warhead were designed especially for sophisticated threats like the supersonic, sea-skimming Yakhont.
“It allows robust defense against aircraft, helicopters and missiles of all types, but for Yakhont, there’s nothing else in Israel that has the energy and the maneuverability to intercept the target in the air at very low levels, a few meters above the sea.”
In a recent interview, Brig. Gen. Yossi Ashkenazi, head of materiel for the Israeli Navy, supported Levy’s claim, insisting that Barak-8 “will give an appropriate answer to all cruise missile threats, including the sea-skimming class of the Yakhont.”