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Slovakia enhances its air defense capabilities with German MANTIS.

| Defense News Army 2024

At the end of 2023, Slovakia officially acquired two MANTIS (Modular, Automatic, and Network-capable Targeting and Interception System) air defense systems from Germany at no cost. Valued at 120 million euros, approximately 135 million dollars, this significant procurement signifies a pivotal moment in enhancing Slovakia's defense capabilities. The transfer ceremony, which took place at the 11th Air Force Brigade of the Slovak Armed Forces in Nitra, marked a notable milestone, reflecting the enhancement of Slovakia's military strength.
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German company Rheinmetall delivers two MANTIS air defense systems to Slovakia (Picture source: Slovak MoD)

As a reminder, Slovakia has played a pivotal role in supporting Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, demonstrating its dedication through substantial military assistance. As of October 2022, Slovakia has provided approximately 154 million euros in aid to Ukraine, ranking fifth in terms of GDP with the assistance provided. This aid encompasses S-300PMU air defense systems, Mi-17 and Mi-2 helicopters, Božena demining vehicles, BVP-1 infantry fighting vehicles, and Zuzana 2 howitzers. This significant support underscores Slovakia's commitment to regional stability and its contribution to Ukraine's quest for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Simultaneously, Slovakia faces its own challenges in air defense. After sending the S-300PMU system to Ukraine, Slovakia benefited from the temporary deployment of four Patriot air defense system batteries, provided by NATO allies, including Germany, the United States, and the Netherlands. However, this assistance is temporary and does not represent a long-term solution for Slovakia. The recent withdrawal of Patriot batteries by the Netherlands and the United States further reduced Slovakia's air defense capabilities, leaving only the German batteries in place. This has underscored the need for Slovakia to develop its own sustainable air defense systems.

In response to these challenges, Slovakia is turning towards future collaborations and initiatives to strengthen its air defense. Germany has provided substantial aid with the donation of two MANTIS systems, valued at 120 million euros, for permanent use by Slovakia. Additionally, Slovakia is actively exploring partnerships within NATO's European Sky Shield initiative, led by Germany. This initiative aims to improve short, medium, and long-range air defense capabilities in the European region and could include systems like Arrow 3, Patriot, and IRIS-T. Furthermore, Slovakia is considering the joint purchase of air defense systems, such as Israel's SPYDER systems, with other European countries, demonstrating its commitment to international collaboration and investment in modern, effective air defense solutions.

Developed by Rheinmetall, the MANTIS systems are designed to counter a wide range of aerial threats, including missiles, artillery shells, drones, and cruise missiles. The system is characterized by its modularity, advanced sensor integration, high rate of fire, and all-weather operational capabilities. The integration of these systems into the equipment of the 11th Air Force Brigade demonstrates Slovakia's commitment to protecting its strategic assets in the East, especially in the current context of tensions with Ukraine.

A group of over a hundred Slovak soldiers has been trained to operate these systems, receiving comprehensive training that includes technical instructions and live-fire exercises. This preparation ensures effective handling and maintenance of these sophisticated systems.

The MANTIS stands out for its ability to provide 360-degree defense, capable of detecting and neutralizing threats from all angles. Each cannon in the system can fire up to 1,000 rounds per minute, allowing for rapid response to multiple simultaneous threats.

The system is primarily deployed to protect installations and fixed objects. It is well-suited for safeguarding field camps, airbases, and other critical facilities. Regardless of weather and lighting conditions, the system operates reliably, making it an effective air defense solution both day and night.

In terms of technical specifications, the system comprises several components. The Control and Fire Control Center has transport dimensions of 2.6 m in height, 2.4 m in width, and 5.9 m in length, with an empty weight of 14.22 tons and a maximum payload of 1.78 tons.

The Sensor Unit is equipped with radar sensors, including search radar, follow radar, and IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), along with other sensors such as TV cameras, infrared cameras, and laser rangefinders. Its dimensions are 3.0 m in height, 2.4 m in width, and 3.0 m in length, with a weight of approximately 3.5 tons.


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