Germany donates two MANTIS air defense systems to Slovakia to strengthen its border with Ukraine

A significant enhancement to Slovakia's air defenses, particularly along its eastern border with Ukraine, has been announced on June 8, 2023, in a joint statement from the Slovak Ministry of Defense and the German Federal Ministry of Defence. The two nations have inked an agreement through which Germany will donate two MANTIS very short-range air defense (VSHORAD) systems to Slovakia. This gift stands to bolster the region's security, which is currently supported by national and Allied GBAD (Modular Ground Based Air Defence) capabilities.
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35mm cannon weapon station, part of the MANTIS air defense system. i(Picture source Wikimedia)

The agreement is part of the Modular Solution for Ground-Based Air Defence (GBAD) High Visibility Project, an international initiative offering nations a versatile, scalable defense framework capable of dealing with air threats over varying ranges. The objective is to enable participants to tailor ground-based air defense force packages for individual operations, a move set to enhance the national security of participant nations.

The first of the two systems is slated for delivery to Slovakia within weeks, according to Defence Minister Martin Sklenár. The exact timeline, however, remains at the discretion of the German government. In a show of strong bilateral relations and a united front for NATO's eastern defenses, the MANTIS systems are to be permanently gifted to Slovakia at no cost.

“The gifting of the MANTIS systems reflects our responsible partnership and long-standing commitment to national and collective security," Minister Sklenár said in a statement.

Dalibor Pavolka, the Slovak National Director for Defence Capabilities, expressed that the MANTIS systems would significantly bolster the firepower and defensive capabilities of the Slovak Armed Forces against airborne threats.

The MANTIS system, formerly known as NBS C-RAM (counter-rocket, artillery, and mortar), was initially developed to secure forward-operating bases of the German Army in Afghanistan. Each system comprises six 35mm automatic guns (with an optional upgrade to eight guns), two sensor units, a command post, and three MANTIS surveillance radars with a range of up to 100km. Training for Slovak servicemen and women on the system is included in the agreement.

Currently, 44 Slovak service personnel are undergoing training at the Bundeswehr's Todendorf Military Training Area in Germany. Upon completion, they will be deployed to eastern Slovakia to operate the MANTIS systems.

The Modular, Automatic and Network Capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) is a stationary, fully automated weapon station designed to provide continuous air defense for military installations. It is capable of detecting, tracking, and destroying a broad spectrum of airborne threats, including cruise missiles, rockets, artillery and mortar shells, and drones.