Rafael SPYDER Short And Medium Range Air Defence Missile System

Rafael SPYDER is the Surface to Air PYthon and DERby air defense system developed by Rafael and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to meet Israeli army requirements. The SPYDER air defense system is unique in several aspects.


The SPYDER (Surface-to-air PYthon and DERby) air defense system was developed by Rafael and Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to meet Israeli army requirements. Currently this air defense system is in service with Georgia, India (18), Peru (6), Singapore (12) and Vietnam. Georgia was the first country to purchase this air defense system.

The SPYDER saw combat in 2008 during the war with Russia. This air defense system destroyed a Russian Tu-22MR reconnaissance aircraft and a Su-25 ground attack aircraft. Indian Army selected this air defense system in 2006. Procurement contract was awarded in 2008. First air defense systems were delivered to Singaporean Air Force in 2011. It replaced the older RAPIER. Deliveries to Peru were planned to begin in 2014.

The air defense system is unique in several aspects. It is the only system that launches two different types of missile from the same launcher pad. The essential idea creating this system was to make it as easy to operate as possible, regarding Israeli army’s model that is based mainly on reservists, so that even not very experienced and skilled soldier could operate the system.

Python and Derby Missile in SPYDER

The SPYDER fire Python 5 and Derby missiles, designed by Rafael. Basically these are air-to-air type missiles, modified to be used as surface-to-air missiles. The Python 5 short range missile has a range of 15 km. It has infrared guidance and imagery archive. It can identify a wide range of airborne threats.

The Derby is a short-to-medium range missile. It has an active homing guidance through radio frequency. After being launch it locks on, tracks and destroys the target. The Derby has a range of up to 50 km. Both the Derby and Python 5 missiles find the targets themselve. Also both of these missiles are smokeless. It makes harder to detect visually the missile and its launch position.

The SPYDER SR is a short-range version of the SPYDER. The launcher vehicle carries 4 missiles. Missiles are launched at an angle. In 2006 a SPYDER MR medium-range version was introduced. The launcher vehicle carries 8 missiles. All missiles are fitted with boosters for extended range. Most of the system elements are the same in both versions. The SPYDER MR system is additionally supported by a truck-mounted high performance surveillance radar, that gives longer range. Both versions can carry any mix of missiles.

The air defense system is very agile. It is being deployed by high mobility vehicles. Its launch pad is rotatable and rotates through 360 degrees.

The system can be operated either as a standalone unit or integrated into extended defense formation with different components. Full composition of SPYDER air defense system includes one command and control vehicle with radar, two missile resupply vehicles, one field service vehicle, and 6 vehicles with missile launchers. Each of them carries 4 missiles. The SPYDER MR battery additionally includes a truck-mounted high performance surveillance radar. The launcher vehicles have a datalink and can be deployed up to 10 km from the command post vehicle.

The SPYDER defense web can be arranged in less than 5 minutes. Once the battery is set up the first missile can be launched within 5 seconds. Systems radar controls over 40 km area and allow the system to operate in day/night and all weather condition.

The system has three types of operation modes. In manual mode the operator selects detected target and launches missile at it. In semi-automatic mode the system finds, identifies and tracks the target, while being ready to fire. The operator only has to launch the missile manually. In automatic mode the system launches missiles itself as soon as hostile aircraft is detected.

The SPYDER air defense system can be based on various chassis. The Georgian SPYDER is based on ROMAN 6×6 truck chassis. Indian SPYDER launcher is based on Tata 6×6 chassis. Indian command post vehicle with radar is based on Tata 8×8 chassis. Singaporean SPYDER launcher is based on MAN TGS 6×6 chassis, and command post vehicle on MAN 8×8 chassis. Vietnamese systems are mounted on MAN HX series trucks. The system can also use Tatra 6×6, Mercedes-Benz Actros 8×8 or any other suitable chassis.

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