WATCH: Israel successfully launches new naval missile defense system
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WATCH: Israel successfully launches new naval missile defense system

IDF holds first operational test of ‘Barak 8,’ aimed to deflect Hezbollah weapons, as all eyes turn to more powerful Russian S-400

Illustrative: The Israel Navy launches its new 'Barak 8' missile defense system on November 26, 2015. (screen capture: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Illustrative: The Israel Navy launches its new 'Barak 8' missile defense system on November 26, 2015. (screen capture: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

The Israel Navy has carried out its first successful launch of a new maritime missile defense system under battlefield conditions, a senior naval official announced on Thursday.

News of the “Barak 8” missile defense system’s successful test came as the eyes of the world turn to the Russian S-400, an anti-aircraft system deployed in Syria on Thursday, which operates at a substantially greater distance.

Though the Russian missile system is effective at a greater range, the Barak 8 can be installed on naval ships as well as on the ground, giving it a decided advantage in its mobility.

The system, made up of a radar array and missile launcher, successfully detected and shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle “that was very fast and very small,” in order to simulate a real-life enemy aircraft or missiles, the naval officer said.

The system, which was developed jointly by Israel and India, had been installed on one of Israel’s Sa’ar 5-class warships. In previous tests, the missiles had been fired from land.

The radar acquiring targets for the Barak 8 system is code-named Adir (Hebrew for “Tremendous”), or MF-STAR (Multi Function Surveillance And Threat Alert Radar).

This newest iteration (“8”) is intended to defend against advanced weaponry believed to be in the hands of Hezbollah, including the Russian-made Yakhont P-800 anti-ship missile.

“The Barak/Adir systems will be able to deal with the Yakhont,” the senior officer boasted. “It is the bread and butter of this system.”

The Israeli Navy tests its new 'Barak 8' missile defense system on November 26, 2015. The missile (blue) is shown here about to strike its target (red). (Screen capture: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
The Israel Navy tests its new ‘Barak 8’ missile defense system on November 26, 2015. The missile (blue) is shown here about to strike its target (red). (screen capture: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

The system is intended to be mounted either on naval vessels or on the ground, in a battery formation. It can identify and destroy airborne threats like UAVs, jets, missiles and rockets — including projectiles launched simultaneously.

Though the senior officer said he could not reveal the maximum range of the Barak 8 system, an executive vice president of Israel Aerospace Industries, which helped develop the defense system, revealed to Jane’s Defense News earlier this summer that some of the missiles being used can shoot down targets at a range of 150 kilometers (93 miles).

The system is also intended to defend the coastline and reportedly can tackle missiles larger than those within the capabilities of the Iron Dome system.

The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system on display in Russia. (CC BY-SA Соколрус/Wikimedia)
The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system on display in Russia. (CC BY-SA Соколрус/Wikimedia)
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