Spike is an Israeli fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charge HEAT warhead, currently in its fourth-generation. It was developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is available in man-portable, vehicle-launched, and helicopter-launched variants.
|Type||Anti-tank guided missile|
|Place of origin||Israel|
|In service||1981–present (Spike NLOS) 1997–present|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Wars||1982 Lebanon War, Second Intifada, Iraq War, 2006 Lebanon War, War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Gaza War, 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict|
|Designer||Rafael Advanced Defense Systems|
|Designed||Late 1970s (Spike NLOS)|
|Manufacturer||Rafael Advanced Defense Systems|
Diehl Defence (Now part of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics)
|Unit cost||$210,000 Spike NLOS|
|Produced||• Spike NLOS: Early 1980s–present|
• Spike-MR/LR/ER: 1997–present
• Spike-SR: 2012–present
|No. built||28,500 (2017)|
|Mass||Spike-ER from helicopter:
Spike-MR/LR from ground:
Spike-SR:• Missile in canister: 9.6 kg (21 lb 3 oz)
|Length||• Spike-MR/LR: 1,200 mm (3 ft 11 in)|
• Spike-ER: 1,670 mm (5 ft 6 in)
|Diameter||• Spike-MR/LR: 130 mm (5.1 in)|
• Spike-ER: 170 mm (6.7 in)
|Rate of fire||Ready to launch in 30 seconds, reload in 15 seconds|
|Effective firing range||• Spike-SR: 50–1,500 metres (55–1,640 yards)|
• Spike-MR: 200–2,500 m (220–2,730 yd)
• Spike-LR: 200–4,000 m (220–4,370 yd)
• Spike-LR II: 200–5,500 m (220–6,010 yd)
• Spike-ER: 400–8,000 m (440–8,750 yd)
• Spike-ER II: 400–10,000 m (440–10,940 yd)
• Spike-NLOS: 600–25,000 m (660–27,340 yd)
|Sights||10× optical sight|
|Warhead||Tandem-charge HEAT warhead|
|Infrared homing – Electro Optical (CCD, Imaging Infrared (IIR) or Dual CCD/IIR), Passive CCD or dual CCD/IIR seeker|
As well as engaging and destroying targets within the line-of-sight of the launcher ("fire-and-forget"), some variants of the missile are capable of making a top attack through a "fire, observe and update" method (essentially lock-on after launch); the operator tracking the target, or switching to another target, optically through the trailing fiber-optic wire (or RF link in the case of the vehicle-mounted, long-range NLOS variant) while the missile is climbing to altitude after launch. This is similar to the lofted trajectory flight profile of the US FGM-148 Javelin.
Spike is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker.
The long and extended range versions of the Spike also have the capability of "Fire, Observe and Update" operating mode (also known as Lock-on after launch (LOAL)). The missile is connected by a fiber-optical wire that is spooled out between the launch position and the missile. With this, the operator can obtain a target if it is not in the line of sight of the operator at launch, switch targets in flight, or compensate for the movement of the target if the missile is not tracking the target for some reason. Hence, the missile can be fired speculatively for a target of opportunity, or to provide observation on the other side of an obstacle. The missile has a soft launch capability – the motor firing after the missile has left the launcher – that allows for the missile to be fired from confined spaces, which is a necessity in urban warfare.
The missile uses a tandem warhead consisting of two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to detonate any explosive reactive armor, and a primary warhead to penetrate the underlying armor. Currently, it is replacing aging second generation anti-tank missiles like the MILAN and M47 Dragon in the armies of the user nations. Spike missile is also equipped with heat chasing technology.
The Spike system is made up of the launching tripod with its fire control unit and the missile. There is no dedicated thermal sight on the launcher – the missile's imaging seeker is used. Altogether, the long range variant of the system weighs around 26 kg (57 lb).
Spike can be operated from the launcher by infantry, or from mounts that can be fitted to vehicles such as fast attack vehicles, armoured personnel carriers or utility vehicles. Vehicles that are not normally fitted with anti-tank weapons can therefore be given anti-tank capability.
Spike has been tested as a weapon system for the SAGEM Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle. The Spanish Army has fitted the Spike-ER to its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Both Israel and the United States have experimented with arming Black Hawk helicopters with the Spike missile; the US variant is used in UH-60M Battlehawk helicopters.
In order to facilitate the selling of the weapon system in Europe, the company EuroSpike GmbH was formed in Germany. Its shareholders Diehl Defence (40%), Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (40%) and Rafael via ERCAS B.V (20%). ERCAS B.V. is a Dutch holding company owned 100% by Rafael. EuroSpike GmbH is located in Röthenbach, Germany. The European variant of the Spike weapon system differs a little from the Israeli version and is marketed under the name EuroSpike.
For other areas of the world, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is solely responsible.
The reusable Command & launch unit (CLU), battery, tripod and the thermal sight are common for both MR and LR versions of the Spike missile family, each weighing 5 kg (11 lb 0 oz), 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz), 2.8 kg (6 lb 3 oz), and 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz) respectively.
The short range version of the weapon was unveiled in 2012 to give infantrymen a guided missile between the larger Spike-MR and unguided rockets. The missile is 8 kg (17 lb 10 oz) for a 9.8 kg (21 lb 10 oz) disposable munition for use at platoon-level whose minimum range is 50 m (160 ft) and whose maximum range is 1.5 km (0.93 mi). It is equipped with a stiff-necked uncooled electro-optical infrared seeker and advanced tracker, as opposed to the gimballed seeker in the Spike MR/LR/ER versions. The Spike-SR does not require a separate sight, instead utilizing the low-cost thermal camera and guidance electronics strapped to the missile's nose to provide this function through a display integrated into the launcher, showing the target until launch. The warhead can either be a multi-purpose tandem shaped-charge warhead with blast-fragmentation effect or a new Penetration-Blast-Fragmentation (PBF) variant leveraged from the MATADOR's anti-structure warhead to equip maneuvering forces in urban environments to breach enemy cover and structures with a lethal blast effect. In May 2016 Rafael concluded deliveries of Spike-SR to its first export customer, later revealed to be the Singapore Armed Forces to replace the Carl Gustav M2.
The medium range version (Israeli designation: NT-Gil). The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), its minimum range is 200 m, while its maximum range is 2,500 m (1.6 mi). It is used by infantry and special forces.
Long range version (Israeli designation: NT-Spike). The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), and the weight of the complete system is less than 45 kg (99 lb 3 oz). Maximum range is 4,000 m (2.5 mi) and it is used by infantry and light combat vehicles. It adds fiber-optic communication to and from the operator during flight. Reported armour penetration capability is more than 700 mm (28 in) of Rolled homogeneous armour (RHA). It is also deployed by Sentry Tech remotely controlled weapons stations along the Gaza border. In early 2014, Rafael revealed they had increased the range of the Spike-LR to 5 km (3.1 mi), enhancing versatility on existing firing platforms and allowing it to be utilized on new ones like light helicopters.
A new generation of the original Spike-LR is in full-scale development and scheduled to be operational by the end of 2018. Spike-LR II (Israeli designation: Gil-2, גיל 2) has reduced weight to 12.7 kg (28 lb), increased range of 5.5 km (3.4 mi) at ground level and 10 km (6.2 mi) from helicopters using an RF data-link, warhead options of tandem HEAT with 30% increased armor penetration or a multipurpose blast warhead with selectable impact or penetration detonation fusing, a new seeker that includes an uncooled IR sensor with a smart target tracker with artificial intelligence features, the ability to fire on grid target coordinates using an inertial measurement unit for third party-target allocation, and is compatible with legacy launchers. The missile is designed with a counter-active protection system (CAPS) capability, being able to hit targets at higher impact angles of up to 70 degrees. First ordered by the IDF in October 2017.
Extended range or extra-long range version of the weapon (Israeli designation: NT-Dandy or NT-D). It has a minimum range of 400 m and a maximum range of 8,000 m (5.0 mi). It has a larger diameter and is heavier than the other systems, and is usually vehicle mounted. It is used by infantry, Light Combat Vehicle (LCVs), and helicopters. The Finnish Navy's Coastal Jaegers and Philippine Navy's Multi-purpose Attack Craft Mk.III also operate this version in the anti-ship role. The weight of the missile is 34 kg (74 lb 15 oz), the launchers are 30 kg (66 lb 2 oz) and 55 kg (121 lb 4 oz) respectively for the vehicle and air-launched versions. Penetration is around 1,000 mm (39 in) of RHA.
In August 2018, Rafael disclosed the development of an enhancement of the missile called the Spike-ER II. It retains the same weight, airframe, surface geometries, and propulsion unit but introduces a two-way RF data-link to increase real-time control to an extended range of 16 km (9.9 mi) from helicopters; it also has an extended fiber optic link to increase range to 10 km (6.2 mi) from land and naval platforms.
"Non Line Of Sight" is an ultra long-range version of the weapon (Israeli designation: Tamuz, תמוז), with a claimed maximum range of 25 kilometres (16 miles). It is a significantly larger missile than other Spike variants, with an overall weight of around 70 kg (154 lb 5 oz). It can be launched from the ground or from helicopters. It was developed following lessons learned in the Yom Kippur War, which showed a need for a high-precision guided tactical ground-to-ground battlefield missile. The first variants entered service with the IDF in tandem with the Pereh missile carrier in 1981, though the existence of both was not revealed to the public until 2011. The Spike NLOS uses a fiber optic link similar to other Spike versions, but only out to 8 km, after which it employs a radio data link for command guidance.
In 2011 it also became known that in a highly unusual move, the British Army was hastily equipped with the missile, drawn directly from IDF inventory after being exposed to increasing insurgent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2007 with three variants of the NLOS being procured. A total of 600 missiles was acquired, the breakdown being 200 NLOS MK.2 in 2007, 200 NLOS MK.4 in 2008 (together with the MK.2 these were known as Exactor-1) and 200 NLOS MK.5 (Exactor-2) in 2009. For operational security, the codename of 'Exactor missile' was assigned in British service and it was initially mounted on launchers atop leased M113 APCs. Later on, the missile was fired from a separate trailer launcher instead, ditching the non-standard M113 APCs altogether.
Rafael is working on expanding the missile's versatility by enhancing the existing EO-IR/CCD seeker with semi-active laser (SAL) capability and different anti-armor, blast-penetration, and high-explosive fragmentation warheads to meet specific applications.
In 2020 the US Army announced its intention to procure Spike NLOS missiles to be mounted on Apache helicopters.
On 2 September 2009, at an IDF exhibition held at the 3rd Latrun annual land warfare conference, the Israeli Defense Force unveiled a new member of the Spike family of missiles – the Mini Spike Anti-personnel guided weapon (APGW). Rafael claimed that this latest member of the Spike family of missile costs and weighed only a third of the Spike-LR at 4 kg (8.8 lb), while offering a longer engagement range of 1.3–1.5 km (0.81–0.93 mi) when compared to the Spike-SR. It was to introduce new flight modes to enable precision strikes in urban areas, such as flying through an open windows or attacking an enemy hidden behind defilade or obstacles using non-line-of-sight engagement. Mini Spike would use the same launcher and sight system of the Spike-LR, loading the missile on a special adaptor. By 2016, Mini-Spike development had been discontinued.
- Total 350 Spike-LR and 250 Spike-NLOS missiles, some of which are mounted on the Plasan Sand Cat.
- The Brazilian Navy has selected Spike-ER missile to equip Westland Super Lynx helicopters.
- Total 85 Spike-LR/ER and 110 Spike-NLOS missiles. The Colombian National Army Aviation's fleet of Sikorsky AH-60L Arpía IV-series helicopters are armed with three variants of the Spike: the ER, LR and NLOS.
- Croatia has ordered 16 Spike LR launchers for its Patria AMV armored vehicles. However this is initial order, talks of 128 additional launchers for 20 brand new Patria IFVs and 84 Bradley M2 ODS IFVs that are about to join Croatian Army in 2020–2023. No indication if Croatia will purchase Spike MR or SR for its infantry formations. Croatia ordered 200 Spike LR missiles initially for $1.25 million.
- Total 900 missiles, breakdown being 300 Spike-MR, 200 Spike-LR with the remaining 400 being Spike-ER. 100 MR (Panssarintorjuntaohjusjärjestelmä 2000) launchers plus an option for 70 more, and 18 ER (Rannikko-ohjus 2006) launchers for coastal anti-ship use. Also Spike-LR missiles as a newer purchase.[clarification needed]
- Total 6,000 Spike-LR missiles, 311 LR launchers on Puma IFVs., over 214 launchers for the infantry, also planned to be used on Wiesel AWCs
- Defense News reported that the Indian Army wanted to order Spike missiles and peripheral equipment in a $1 billion deal. Indian Ministry of Defence officials told the magazine that the order is for 321 launchers, 8,356 missiles, 15 training simulators, and peripheral equipment. In October 2014, India chose to buy the Spike over the U.S. Javelin. India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited will be the systems integrator for the missiles with major work share for manufacture to be handled by Bharat Dynamics and Kalyani Group. On 20 November 2017, it was announced that the deal was cancelled due to lack of transfer of technology. The DRDO has been instructed to produce an indigenous missile. However, Indian media sources have reported that the contract will proceed as part of a restructured government to government agreement. In April 2019, following the 2019 border skirmishes with Pakistan, the Indian Army approved an emergency purchase of 240 Spike MR missiles and 12 launchers to meet immediate requirements, which were inducted into service in early October 2019.[clarification needed]
- The Spike NLOS (Tammuz) was introduced into service in the early 1980s.
- In 1997, the Spike MR (Gil), LR (Gomed), ER (Perakh Bar) with associated launchers entered service.
- Total 1,490 Spike-LR and 750 Spike-ER missiles (with associated launchers and training systems), Spike-LR are for use on Dardo IFV, Freccia IFV and VTLM Lince while Spike-ER are for use by AH-129 Mangusta attack helicopters.
- Total 2,400+ Spike-MR missiles (including 297 launchers and associated training systems) ordered in 2001, deliveries began in 2006 and was completed by 2011. A total of 237 launchers and 1,974 missiles was assigned to the Royal Netherlands Army, while the remaining 60 launchers and 459 missiles was assigned to the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. The first weapon was actually issued in 2004 to the Regiment van Heutsz.
- Total 100 Spike-ER missiles ordered in 2016 with deliveries completed in 2018, for use onboard Philippine Navy's Multi-purpose Attack Craft Mk. 3. Spike-NLOS ordered for Philippine Navy AW159 Wildcat helicopters.
- Total 2,675 Spike-LR missiles (with 263 launchers and training systems) ordered in 2003 with deliveries completed by 2013, for use on Rosomak IFVs. A follow-up order of 1,000 Spike-LR missiles was placed in 2015 with deliveries beginning in 2017 to be completed by 2020.
- Total 3,000 missiles, breakdown being 2,000 Spike-LR (for use on MLI-84M IFVs) with the remaining 1,000 being Spike-ER (for use on IAR 330 SOCAT attack helicopters).
- In 1999, Singapore became the second country to acquire the Spike ATGM. Total 1,500 Spike-LR missiles (with associated launchers and training systems) received between 2001 and 2006. Between 2017 and 2018, another 500 Spike-SR was received as the new generation anti-tank guided missile for its infantry battalions. The Hunter AFV of the Singapore Army is equipped with a twin tube pop-up launcher.
- Spike MR/LR has been in operational use in the Slovenian Armed Forces since 2009. Total 75 missiles. Some will be on Patria AMVs.
- South Korea
- A South Korean government deal concluded on 6 September 2011 confirmed the procurement of unspecified numbers of Spike NLOS, of which about 50 missiles will be forward deployed to the South Korean islands of Baengnyeongdo and Yeonpyeongdo, close to the Northern Limit Line with North Korea. On 19 May 2013 the South Korean military confirmed that "dozens" of Spike missiles had been deployed on the islands. The Republic of Korea Navy will also deploy the Spike NLOS on AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters, and the Republic of Korea Marine Corps has the Spike NLOS mounted on Plasan Sand Cat light vehicle.
- Total 2,630 Spike-LR (including 260 launchers and associated training systems) and 200 Spike-ER missiles (for use by Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters). A total of 236 launchers and 2,360 Spike-LR missiles was assigned to the Spanish Army, while the remaining 24 launchers and 240 missiles was assigned to the Spanish Marines.
- United Kingdom
- 600 Spike-NLOS missiles were procured by the British Army, the exact breakdown being 200 NLOS MK.2, 200 NLOS MK.4 and 200 NLOS MK.5 ordered in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively. In British service it has the name 'Exactor'.
- United States
- The Spike was offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as a possible contender in the US Army JAWS missile program in 1996. In January 2020, the Army revealed it would field the Spike NLOS on AH-64 Apache helicopters as an interim solution to acquire a longer range stand-off weapon.
- In January 1998, a partnership arrangement was announced between Israel Aerospace Industries and Kamov to market the Kamov Ka-50-2 attack helicopter in Turkish competition. One of the optional armaments being offered for the Ka-50-2 was the Spike-ER missile. Eventually, Ka-50-2 lost to TAI/AgustaWestland T129 ATAK. Turkey has also examined the use of Rafael Overhead Weapon Station with Spike for its Otokar Cobra light armored vehicles.
- United Kingdom
- In February 2001, the British MoD awarded two contracts valued at $8.8 million for a year-long assessment of the Javelin and Spike-MR. The Spike was being offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems teamed with Matra BAe Dynamics, while the Javelin was being offered by a team of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The UK would like to field a lightweight antitank missile system for its Joint Rapid Reaction Force by 2005. In February 2003, the British MoD selected the Javelin.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Spike missiles.|
- Official website – Rafael Advanced Defence System, for worldwide marketing
- Official website – EuroSpike GmbH, for marketing in Europe
- Singapore Army's facsheet on Spike ATGM
- Defense-Update.Com's webpage on Spike
- Spike anti-tank anti-armour guided missile on armyrecognition.com
- RAFAEL Spike Missile
- Video links