NATO’s Eastern Europe states continue to move to replace some of their remaining Soviet-era air-defence systems as it becomes increasingly more challenging and costly to maintain them.

2k12 Kub surface to air missile. Credit: Timm Ziegenthaler/Stocktrek Images

By Douglas Barrie, Senior Fellow for Military Aerospace

The Czech Republic and Hungary are now embarked on programmes to provide a successor capability to that of the 2K12 Kub (SA-6 Gainful) short-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. The Czech Republic issued a request for information in 2016 and may make a down-select by the end of this year or early 2018. The aim is to have an initial operational capability with a system to replace the 2K12 Kub by 2021, with a full operational capability by the middle of the decade.

The 2K12 entered service with the then Czechoslovakia, a Warsaw Pact member state, in 1985 and has undergone modernisation and life-extension to allow a regiment of the system to be retained in service. At the end of the Cold War seven regiments of the 2K12 were in service.

Hungary is in a similar position as it looks to replace is 2K12 SAMs. Missile support, including the provision of increasingly hard to source spares, is being provided by Poland. The latter country also remains a 2K12 operator, although the type is due to be replaced as part of Warsaw’s Wisla air-defence programme. The Polish government is aiming to sign a contract with Raytheon for the Patriot SAM system by the end of this year. Hungary has already begun to examine its potential options in acquiring a successor to the 2K12 Kub and has already defined its operational requirement.

The 2K12 system provided the ability to engage targets at ranges of up to 23km and at altitudes of up to 14km. The Czech requirements include the ability to engage at ranges beyond that of the 2K12 and also to carry out multiple simultaneous target engagements rather than the single-target-only engagement provided by its Kub system. A variety of US, European and Israeli medium-range systems are under consideration to meet the Czech requirement, from systems that fall around the minimum performance specified out to those with engagement capabilities toward 100km.

Hungary is also in the process of modernising its man-portable point-defence SAM. The MBDA Mistral is the focus of this activity, which includes Identification Friend or Foe Mode 5, improved communications and increased detection range. Alongside the Mistral-2 standard of missile, the Mistral-3 variant has also begun to be delivered. This provides a greater effective range than the Mistral-2. This version of the missile has a maximum range of 6.5km


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