The Czech cabinet convened on October 25, 2023, to discuss a crucial public contract that will bolster the country’s air defense capabilities. The contract entails the procurement of 48 I-Derby Long Range anti-aircraft missiles from the Israeli government, further fortifying the nation’s ability to protect its airspace. The Czech Army is set to receive these advanced missiles by October 2027. The I-Derby Long-Range missiles have an impressive operational range of up to 80 kilometers and can target threats at altitudes of up to 20 kilometers. These long-range anti-aircraft missiles will empower the Czech Army with the capability to engage and neutralize a wide array of airborne threats, including unmanned air vehicles, helicopters, airplanes, and guided missiles.
These newly acquired missiles will be integrated into the country’s air defense infrastructure as part of the SPYDER CZE air-defense missile system. Four batteries of the SPYDER CZE air-defense missiles are expected to be delivered to the Czech Republic by 2026, significantly enhancing the nation’s air defense capabilities. The total value of the contract for the I-Derby Long Range missiles amounts to CZK 2.8 billion (approximately $119.8 million) before VAT. The government is poised to finalize and sign the contract by the end of October this year. Additionally, the contract includes a provision for an option that, if activated, would allow for the purchase of hundreds of additional missiles in six different categories.
Also known as the Alto, the Derby missile is a BVR, medium-range (~50 km (31 mi)) active radar homing missile. Though technically not part of the “Python” family, the missile is an enlarged version of the Python-4 with an active-radar seeker. In June 2015, Rafael confirmed the existence of the I-Derby-ER, an extended range version of the Derby that increases range to 54 nmi (62 mi; 100 km), after a “Python 6” version based on an air-launched Stunner missile was abandoned. To achieve greater range, a dual-pulse solid rocket motor is added, where the secondary pulse of energy as the missile nears the target extends flight time. It also combines the seeker and fuse into an integrated sensor and fusing system to make room for the new motor.
The SPYDER (“Surface-to-air Python and Derby”) is an Israeli short and medium range mobile air defence system developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems with assistance from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). Rafael is the prime contractor and IAI is the major subcontractor for the SPYDER program. The SPYDER is a low-level, quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging aircraft, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, drones, cruise missiles and precision-guided munitions. It provides air defence for fixed assets and for point and area defence for mobile forces in combat areas. The system is fitted atop a Tatra truck, a Mercedes-Benz Actros truck, a MAN TGS truck, Scania P-series truck, Dongfeng truck, or a TELAR.