SANTIAGO, Chile — Colombia has awarded a $131.2 million contract to Israel Aerospace Industries for the truck-transportable Barak MX air defense system, the government announced last week.

The acquisition and deployment of an advanced air defense system is part of the Colombian military’s modernization efforts. The Colombian Air Force choose the system as its preferred solution in 2018, and the Army made the same determination in May 2022.

The system is expected to help defend military bases and personnel and well as and critical infrastructure.

The country is buying two Barak MX systems as well as missiles, military sources told Defense News on the condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to speak to the media.

With a battle-management center built around an Elta Systems-made ELM-2084 active electronically scanned array radar, along with data fed from sensors, the Barak MX provides multilayered defense against aircraft and missiles. Its advanced fire control system can simultaneously detect, track and engage several targets.

The Barak MX is currently available with eight-cell vertical launchers and a combination of up to three types of missiles, including Barak MRAD with a range of up to 35 kilometers (22 miles); Barak LRAD with a range of up to 70 kilometers; and Barak ER fitted with an additional booster for a range of up to 150 kilometers.

The military sources told Defense News that Colombia is ordering the system with the MRAD and LRAD missiles, with the option to procure Barak ER missiles later. The former two can target threats at an altitude of up to 20 kilometers, while the latter can reach 30 kilometers.

Independent analyst Emilio Meneses said the purchase “is an impressive upgrade of air defense capabilities by Colombia.”

“Until now only Chile and Venezuela deployed such kind of systems, with the NASAMS from Kongsberg and Raytheon, and the S-300VM of Almaz-Antey, respectively. The Barak MX is a newer system that will raise standards in the South American region,” Meneses told Defense News.

IAI has also offered the naval variant of the Barak MX to Colombia to equip five frigates the country plans to build locally under its PES program.

José Higuera is a Latin America correspondent for Defense News.

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