Colombia’s air space defence: the MBDA view
Protecting a country’s airspace requires an integrated air defence system made of numerous subsystems, a suite of sensors, mostly radars, artillery or missile surface-to-air effectors, interceptor fighter aircraft, a command and control centre, robust, efficient and reliable communications, in addition to a series of countermeasures that protect the entire set from any threat, including those coming from space and cyberspace.
Colombia needs to upgrade its air defence assets, and to this end MBDA is offering an efficient and scalable solution. Colombia already deploys a suite of civil and military radars, integrated into a command and control centre which main task is to stop drug trafficking flights. Air bases are deployed in the various country regions, from where interceptor planes, A-29 Super Tucano, A-37 Dragoon Fly, and IAI Kfir C.10 / C.12, operate. However Colombian Military Forces lack modern ground-based anti-aircraft weapons. The only system in use by the Colombian Army is the ageing Israeli Eagle Eye, which operates manually operated 40 mm guns with optical guidance, supported by a small search and tracking radar and an electro-optical aiming system. The only system available to the Colombian Navy is Mistral surface-to-air very short-range missile used for the self-defence of its four light frigates. Faced with this reality, Colombia has a significant vulnerability to its potential strategic adversaries, who in the event of an international conflict could dominate the airspace and attack targets in Colombian territory, without major difficulties.
Talking to EDR On-Line, MBDA representatives stated that their company would be able to help Colombia overcoming this vulnerability providing a highly efficient and scalable air defence system that could be integrated with radars and other electronic assets that Colombia already deployed. Such a system could progressively expand and improve its capabilities, as budget becomes available.
MBDA brought to Expodefensa 2021 the models of three of its air defence missile systems: the Mistral, light, portable, fire-and-forget missile, capable of engaging aircraft flying at a of 7.5 km distance and 500 meters of altitude; the MICA vertical launch system, a heavier vehicle-mounted system gathered at autonomous antiaircraft batteries level, or integrated into more complex systems. These missiles can hit targets that fly more than 20 km away and up to 30 thousand feet in altitude. Last but not least the CAMM-ER, a vehicle-mounted modular system capable of reaching targets at over 40 km. These missile systems allow creating a tiered air defence system, which together with fighters and radars, make it possible to stop or hinder enemy air attacks.
MBDA is ready to advise the Colombian military in the design of an efficient air defence system that will operate in an integrated manner with the new fighters that that country is about to acquire, their combined capabilities being able to deter regional threats. According to its representatives at Eurosatory, MBDA already carried out various simulations based on radars and missiles range and capabilities, taking into account the complex geography of Colombia, so the company is ready offer alternatives based on real and verifiable information, supported by the company experience, in order to maximise cost effectiveness.
Photos courtesy D. Hernández