Following successful trials late last year, IAI’s Barak-8 medium-range surface-to-air missile is being delivered to customers, and is also now fielded with the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). The company does not discuss its customers, but acknowledges that the missile has been procured by Israel and India, plus others. Non-Israeli sources state that the Barak-8 has been adopted by the Indian Navy, which already employs the Barak-1, for service aboard its latest frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers.
Following on from the Barak-1 naval point defense missile, Barak-8 is an all-new weapon. “We started from scratch,” Eili Behar, IAI’s director of ground-based air and missile defense, told AIN. “We needed the most advanced missile to tackle the latest challenges.” As a result, the Barak-8 incorporates a range of advanced features. The missile is guided by an active RF seeker that is equally capable at short and long ranges, and also allows very low-level engagements. It is intended to provide both point and area defense capabilities, and to perform simultaneous multi-target engagements in a saturated threat environment.
The Barak-8 has a two-way data link that uplinks target information and also downlinks missile status. This allows operators to know if it is functioning properly and if it has received uplinked commands. In an air defense scenario this is vital information because if a missile is not behaving correctly it allows a second interceptor to be launched immediately, rather than after the initial launch has been observed to fail. The downlink function also aids post-mission debriefing.
Instead of working through the guidance radar, the data link is separate. As well as releasing resources from the radar, the separate link allows the Barak-8 to be used with many different types of radar. IAI’s Elta division produces a number of radars that could be used for Barak-8 guidance, from fast-spinning ground-based radars to larger ship-based systems.
IAI (Chalet 210, Static A9) has developed Barak-8 to fulfill both land- and ship-based functions with the same missile and launcher hardware, and the same command and control functions and data links. In a land-based scenario the system can be used to defend a large footprint with low manpower requirements by deploying several launchers that can be networked either by wired or wireless connections. The eight-round launcher can be deployed on a truck or trailer, elevating to the vertical for missile launch. The same launchers can also be accommodated on a wide range of naval vessels.
The missile itself comes in two versions. The medium-range weapon is the baseline missile, offering a range capability from less than two miles to at least 43 miles. Engagement upper ceiling has not been disclosed, but the missile has been proven against very low-flying targets such as sea-skimming anti-ship missiles. IAI has also developed an extended-range version that employs the same hardware, but adds a booster rocket to extend maximum range to around 93 miles.
A number of successful firing trials were conducted in November 2014, resulting in some body-to-body kills to illustrate the engagement accuracy of the missile. The Barak-8 is fitted with a 44-pound warhead to ensure damage or destruction in near-miss engagements. IAI has not commented on whether the Barak-8 has yet been tested at sea, although other sources have reported that it was due for trials from an Indian Navy vessel.