Is BARAK-8 the Antidote to Brahmos?

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When a country starts a project to develop a highly sophisticated system, they make sure that their product is the best. It is obvious from the many military projects and their outcomes.

The Indo-Israeli BARAK-8 SAM is one such product and yes, it is one of the best out there. So much better than other systems, that it could literally hold off a swarm of the most dangerous Anti-Ship missile, the BRAHMOS.

Meaning ‘Lighting’   in Hebrew, BARAK-8 is an Indo-Israeli Long-Range/Medium-Range Surface to Air missile (LRSAM/MRSAM) intended for anti-‘anything flying’. There are stories out there that say BARAK was intended specifically for Brahmos missiles. Is it true? Well, it is both Yes and No at the same time. We will see why in this detailed discussion on BARAK-8 SAM.

BARAK-8 Land Launcher platform

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Developed by:   Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) & Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO)

Manufactured by: Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), Rafael Systems

Class: LRSAM / MRSAM

Weight: 275 kg

Length:  4.5 m

Diameter: 0.225/0.54 m

Detonation mechanism: Proximity. (60 kg warhead)

Engine: Two stage, smokeless pulsed rocket motor

Wingspan: 0.94 m

Operational range: 0.5–70 km

Flight ceiling: 0–16 km

Speed: Mach 2 (680 m/s)

Guidance system: Two way data link with Active RF/IIR seeker

Launch platform: 8 cell VLS module

Development

INS Kolkata firing BARAK-8 LRSAM, Indian Navy pic

Development just after India and Israel signed a $350mn agreement to co-operate in the development of an advanced LRSAM for both Indian and Israeli navy ships. The Indian need was fuelled by the upcoming induction of Kolkata class destroyers that lacked a serious Air Defence missile system.

Rafael Advanced Defence Systems and Elta Systems, both subsidiaries of IAI was contracted to participate in the development along with DRDO. Rafael system provides the key missile interception systems while Elta provided the Radar systems.

DRDO provided the essential propulsion system. The BARAK-8 is based originally on the Israeli BARAK-1 SAM. They were even working on an upgraded BARAK-II and the project paved way for BARAK-8.

Key Features

  • Advanced Guidance System: The system comes with a four plane MF-STAR radar, a multifunction surveillance track and detection radar system. The radar uses multibeam, pulse Doppler and electronic counter-counter measures (ECCM) techniques to detect fast moving and low-RCS targets in complex environments. The MF-STAR radar system provides 360degree coverage around the mother ship.
  • High Kill probability: Israeli missile defence systems are notorious for their precision guided missiles. Missile systems like Arrow, Iron Dome are notorious for their reputation.
  • Fire and Forget: a common term used in missile technology, is the ability of a missile to guide itself to its target using onboard computer. Barak-8 comes with an advanced seeker module that can track the target on its own without any guidance from Control. The active Radio and Infrared seekers aboard the missile provides real time data to onboard computers to guide itself to the target.
  • Multirole capability: Most other LRSAMs have a minimum range of 3km, over which the system can efficiently track and destroy the target. However for BARAK-8, the minimum range is a meagre 0.5km even lesser than the US standard ESSM.
  • Highly Manoeuvrable: BARAK-8 has indigenous Dual-pulse rocket motor with added TVC (Thrust Vector Control) gives very high manoeuvrability. It enables the missile to engage high altitude and supersonic sea-skimming targets.
  • Multiple Simultaneous Engagements: A single Barak system can engage multiple targets at the same time thereby providing necessary defence during saturation attacks. The Kolkata class destroyers currently carries only 4x8cell BARAK-8 VLS, a total of 32 when other ships of same class carry up to twice that number of their systems. This could be attributed to Indian Navy’s confidence in BARAK-8 system.

So, coming to the million dollar question. Is it intended for Brahmos AShM?

We cannot say that it is intended for Brahmos systems as India already operates the missile and the chance that any of our enemies getting their hands on it is rare. However considering the Yakhont missile from which Brahmos missile is derived and the chance of it finding its way to our enemies is not so pleasing. Also, Israel’s immediate threats coincidentally purchased Yakhont missiles, for which people misunderstood as the driving force for BARAK-8.

BARAK-8 on static display, WikimediaCommons

It, however can successfully shoot down Brahmos as any other missile system, but the difference lies in the probability of the missile to engage Brahmos. India and Israel while working wanted their product to be the best Naval Defence system in the world. So they figured out which missile poses the greatest threat to ships around the world. There wasn’t much thinking to do as –it was the Brahmos. It was just coincidental that India had Brahmos with them while BARAK-8 happened.

The tested and proven BARAK-8 is a standard additive in all Project 15A destroyers and Kamorta class corvettes currently in service with the Indian Navy. An upgraded version BARAK-8ER (Extended Range to 100+km) will be an additive in Vishakapatnam class destroyers and Project 17A Guided missile frigates.

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