Spike is a fourth generation man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charged HEAT warhead, developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and in service with a number of nations.
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 profile through a “fire, observe and update” guidance method; the operator tracking the target, or switching to another target, optically through the trailing fiber-optic wire 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 medium, long and extended range versions of the Spike also have the capability of “Fire, Observe and Update” operating mode. 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- which allows for the missile to be fired from confined spaces, which is a necessity in urban warfare.
The missile uses a tandem warhead – 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.
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 kilograms (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, armored 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 Spike missiles, the US variant is called UH-60M Battlehawk.
The reusable Command & launch unit (CLU), battery, tripod and the thermal sight are common across all land-based versions (with the exception of Spike NLOS) 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, is a single shot, fire and forget, disposable weapon. It is a 9 kg weapon whose minimum range is 50 m (160 ft) while the maximum range is 800 m (2,600 ft). It is equipped with a uncooled thermal seeker. A low cost display attached to the missile case allows the missile’s seeker to be used as an aim sight (which allows the user to dispense with the heavier and more capable CLU). The missile is capable of ‘Fire from enclosure’ which makes it suitable for use in urban environments. The warhead is a tandem charge design allowing the missile to defeat ERA or APS systems.
- the medium range version. The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), minimum range is 200 m (660 ft) while the maximum range is 2,500 m (8,200 ft) and is used by infantry and special forces.
- long range version. 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 (13,000 ft) and it is used by infantry and light combat vehicles. It adds fiber-optic communication to and from the launching soldier during flight. Reported armour penetration capability is more than 700 mm (28 in) of Rolled homogeneous armour (RHA).
- extended range or extra long range version of the weapon. It was formerly also known as the NT-Dandy or NT-D. It has a maximum range of 8,000 m (26,000 ft). 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 also operate the 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.
- “Non Line Of Sight” is an ultra long range version of the weapon with a claimed maximum range of up to 25 km (16 mi). It is larger missile with an overall weight of around 70 kg (154 lb 5 oz) and 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. Codenamed Tamuz (תמוז), the first variants entered service with the IDF in 1981, though this was not revealed to the public until 2011. In a deal concluded on 6 September 2011, the South Korean government has agreed to purchase an unknown number of Spike NLOS missiles.
- 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 claims that this latest member of the Spike family of missile costs and weighs only a third of the Spike-LR, while offering a longer engagement range of 1.3 km (0.81 mi) when compared to the Spike-SR.
|Weight||Spike-ER from helicopter:
• Missile in canister: 34 kg (74 lb 15 oz)
• Launcher: 55 kg (121 lb 4 oz)
• Launcher + 4 missiles: 187 kg (412 lb 4 oz)
Spike-MR/LR from ground:
• Missile round: 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz)
• Command & launch unit (CLU): 5 kg (11 lb 0 oz)
• Tripod: 2.8 kg (6 lb 3 oz)
• Battery: 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz)
• Thermal sight: 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz)
|Length||1,670 mm (5 ft 6 in) (Missile w/launcher)|
|Diameter||170 mm (6.7 in) (Missile w/launcher)|
|Rate of fire||Ready to launch in 30 seconds, reload in 15 seconds|
|Maximum range||800 to 25,000 m (870 to 27,340 yd) depending on version|
|Sights||10× optical sight|
|Warhead||Tandem-charge HEAT warhead|
|Infrared homing – Electro Optical (CCD, IR or Dual CCD/IIR), Passive CCD or dual CCD/IIR seeker|
- Australian Army – Ordered unknown number of Spike-LR II missiles in 2018, for use on Boxer IFV.
- Azerbaijan – Total 350 Spike-LR and 250 Spike-NLOS missiles, some of which are mounted on the Plasan Sand Cat, and Mil Mi-17.
- Belgium – 240 Spike-MR/LR missiles ordered in 2013, delivery completed in 2015.
- Brazilian Navy – The Brazilian Navy has selected Spike-ER missile to equip Westland Super Lynx helicopters.
- Chile – Total 2,200 Spike-MR/LR missiles, for use on modernised Marder IFVs.
- Colombia – 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 – 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 M2 Bradley 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.
- Czech Republic – Total 500 Spike-LR missiles, for use on KBVP IFVs.
- Ecuador – Total 244 missiles, delivered October 2009.
- Finland – Total 900 missiles, breakdown being 300 Spike-MR, 200 Spike-LR with the remaining 400 being Spike-ER. 100 MR launchers plus an option for 70 more, and 18 ER launchers for coastal anti-ship use. Also Spike-LR missiles as a newer purchase.
- German Army – 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.
- Israel – 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.
- Italian Army – 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 Iveco LMV while Spike-ER are for use by AW129 Mangusta attack helicopters.
- Spanish Army – Total 2,630 Spike-LR (including 260 launchers and associated training systems) and 200 Spike-ER missiles (for use by 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.