Israeli air defense system proves itself for first time against Russian missile

Report reveals Israeli-made Barak 8 missile successfully downed a Russian ballistic missile over Azerbaijan.

By World Israel News Staff

Azerbaijan’s armed forces successfully shot down a Russian ballistic missile last fall in what appears to be the first documented evidence of an Israeli air defense missile being used against that kind of Russian military hardware, Channel 20 News reported Tuesday.

During the latest round of fighting last fall between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, the Armenians launched at least one Russian Iskander short-range ballistic missile that was intercepted as it headed towards the Azerbaijan capital city of Baku, the report said.

The Iskander missile, which can carry up to 1,500 pounds of high explosives, was stopped by a Barak-8 (“lightning”) air-defense missile. The Barak-8, a joint development of Israel and India, is designed to be used against a variety of platforms, from anti-ship missiles to helicopters and planes. The missile is in use on Israel’s Saar 5 warships.

Azerbaijan has close ties with Israel and in 2018 acquired 12 Barak-8 launchers with 75 surface-to-air missiles for them.

Despite Azerbaijan’s controversial record on freedoms and human rights, Israel maintains close ties with the Asian nation that considers itself an ally to both neighboring Iran and Israel.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Baku in 2016.

Surmising why Armenia, outmatched on the battlefield, used the Russian missile, Can Kasapoglu, director of Defense Research at the Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, told Middle East Eye that it may have “tried to target Baku with an Iskander as a last resort to put pressure on Azerbaijan for a ceasefire.”

“The use of Iskander matches with Armenia’s intra-war deterrence efforts as they were overwhelmed by Azerbaijani technological superiority in the battleground,” Kasapoglu said.