Why small countries like Slovakia also need ground-based air defence
In a world where increasing technologization and long-distance interaction mean that conflicts and threats know hardly any boundaries, the need for strong national military defense is becoming ever more apparent. In particular, airspace surveillance as well as ground-based air defence represent a key factor for national security, as potential threats from manned and especially unmanned aerial vehicles have increased massively in recent years.
Central to modern ground-to-air defence systems is the radar system, which is now no longer limited to detecting aircrafts but also detects drones, which can weigh less than 50 grams and are increasingly used for surveillance, reconnaissance and attacks. Short-range mobile radars such as Saab's combat-proven Giraffe 1X radar locate aircraft, helicopters and drones, as well as artillery shells, mortar rounds and rockets simultaneously. The system has a range of 75 kilometers and a detection area of 360 degrees, and in the event of an identified object, it automatically sends information to the connected command and control system. There, the data is classified in a fraction of a second using an accurate algorithm and ranked by threat level. For the commander, this high-quality target information provides the necessary decision-making basis for responding effectively and protecting the population and troops in the best possible way. The commander decides whether to issue a warning or to launch a counterattack using connected weapon systems.
Multifunctional, high-performance 3D radar systems such as Giraffe 1X also make ground-based air defense highly mobile due to its compactness and low weight of less than 150 kilograms. Mounted on vehicles, the sensor also has a "track on move" mode, enabling real-time monitoring of airspace even when in motion. Small countries often have limited military resources and may not have the financial means to maintain a fleet of fighter jets. However, an effective air defense system plays a crucial role in safeguarding their sovereignty by deterring potential attackers and countering threats from the air.
The geopolitical situation in Europe, the Middle East and Asia is more tense and fragile than it has been in a long time. Especially for a relatively small country as Slovakia a functioning and flexible ground-based air defence is a necessity in these unstable times. On the battlefield a ground-based air defence system can be able to prevent a far stronger airforce from gaining superior air power. Away from the battlefield, they protect against the many challenges posed by modern technology. Ground-based air defense contributes significantly to preserving Slovakia's independence and security, while providing an effective defense against an ever-changing threat landscape.