During today’s handover ceremony at 11 Slovak Air Force Brigade (11 SVK AF Bde) Nitra, the Slovak Armed Forces have taken delivery of two MANTIS air defence systems in order to boost Slovakia’s already fielded ground-based air defence (GBAD) capabilities in service on its eastern border with Ukraine. In attendance at the ceremony were Defence Minister Martin Sklenár, Deputy Chief of Defence Lt Gen Lubomír Svoboda, Deputy Inspector General of the Bundeswehr Lt Gen Markus Laubenthal, and other invited guests. The MANTIS air defence systems are currently being fielded to 11 SVK AF Bde Nitra. They will protect critical national infrastructure (CNI) facilities in eastern Slovakia. Over 100 SVK service personnel have been trained on MANTIS, including on all aspects of operation, firing and maintenance. Each of the two MANTIS systems consists of six automatic weapon stations (optionally available with up to eight guns), two sensor units, and a command post. The package from Germany also includes 5 surveillance radars with a range of up to 100km and specialist training for SVK military personnel.
Speaking in front of the assembled Slovak Armed Forces and Bundeswehr troops, Defence Minister Martin Sklenár said: “My thanks go to our German partners who have provided the Slovak Armed Forces with these systems, free of charge and permanently. It is proof that our alliance pays off for Slovakia. Along with our engagement in support of Ukraine, it brings us countless benefits as well as security and protection guarantees, and, as we can see today, it also gives us opportunities to strengthen our own capabilities.”
MANTIS Air Defence System (Modular, Automatic and Network Capable Targeting and Interception System), formerly titled NBS-C-RAM (Nächstbereichschutzsystem Counter Rocket, Artillery, and Mortar), is a very short range air defence protection system of the German Air Force, intended for base-protection. It is produced by Rheinmetall Air Defence, a subsidiary of Rheinmetall of Germany. It is a part of the air force’s future SysFla air-defence project. Germany originally developed MANTIS to protect the camps where Bundeswehr troops were stationed in Afghanistan. Originally, the German Army ordered a first batch of two systems in 2009, to be delivered in 2013, with two more systems planned to follow later, but were never bought. Both MANTIS systems have been transferred to the German Air Force, which is now responsible for all air defence tasks. The first two systems cost around €110.8 million, plus another €20 million for training and documentation purposes. In a follow-on contract, worth around €13.4 million, Rheinmetall will also deliver the corresponding ammunition to the Bundeswehr.
The MANTIS system is intended to detect, track and shoot down incoming projectiles before they can reach their target within very close range. The system itself is based on Oerlikon Contraves’ Skyshield air defence gun system. A MANTIS system consists of six 35 mm automatic guns (capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute), a ground control unit and two sensor units. The guns fire programmable AHEAD ammunition, developed by Rheinmetall Weapons and Munitions – Switzerland (formerly Oerlikon Contraves Pyrotec). The ammunition carries a payload of 152 tungsten projectiles weighing 3.3 g (51 gr) each. The MANTIS radar can acquire a target within two seconds, then engage it with one of the guns firing a 36-round burst. Two guns directed by one radar each can engage multiple targets. After being manually activated, the system operates fully automatically.