The Spike series missiles, developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel, have become a significant weapon family with many applications. Over 30,000 Spike missiles have been purchased by 39 countries, with around 5,000 already being used.
In order to tap into the European market, a joint venture called EuroSpike GmbH was established by Rafael, Rheinmetall Electronics, and Diehl Defense to handle production and sales.
One of the Spike missile family models is the Spike SR, a compact and versatile missile designed for individual use. Weighing only 9.6 kg, it can be easily operated by activating the seeker, tracking the target, launching the missile, and then evaluating the results.
It is carried on a disposable launcher that is 98 cm long and ranges from 50 meters to 1.5 kilometers. The system takes less than 6 seconds from power-on to launch. The Spike SR can effectively engage a variety of targets, including main battle tanks, armored vehicles, bunkers, and artillery.
The missile utilizes third-generation day and night photoelectric seeker technology, incorporating uncooled infrared imaging (IIR) features, a high-resolution charge-coupled device (CCD), and an optimized tracker.
These features enable the missile to achieve a high hit rate against both stationary and moving targets in all weather conditions. The seeker’s detection image can be displayed on a small OLED screen with 4x magnification.
Depending on the target, the missile can be equipped with different warheads, including high-explosive anti-tank warheads (HEAT), fragmentation warheads, and anti-fortification warheads. It is propelled by a dual-mode solid-fuel motor, allowing it to achieve a flight speed of approximately 130 m/s to 180 m/s.
Medium Range Spike (Spike MR)
The medium-range Spike missile is a third-generation Israeli anti-tank missile equipped with an advanced photoelectric seeker and precision tracking system. It is launched from a tripod-mounted launcher with a reusable command launch unit (CLU) and thermal sights.
Similar to the American Javelin missile, it operates in a fire-and-forget mode, with soldiers selecting the target and firing the missile, which then attacks the tank from above with a high-throw trajectory.
It has a range of 200 meters to 2.5 kilometers and can be used in daytime, low light, and adverse weather conditions. The missile employs a tandem high-explosive anti-tank warhead capable of penetrating 700mm thick steel armor behind explosive reactive armor.
The long-range Spike missile, also known as Spike LR, weighs around 14 kilograms, and the entire system weighs 45 kilograms. It has a maximum range of 4,000 meters (possibly increased to 5 kilometers, according to Israel in early 2014). It incorporates an optical fiber data link, enabling fire-and-forget capability and launch monitoring and adjustment functions.
The long-range Spike 2, a fifth-generation anti-tank missile, is lighter at 12.7 kilograms, with a launcher weight reduction. Its range is increased to 5.5 kilometers (up to 10 kilometers when launched from a helicopter), strengthening its penetration capability.
The tandem high-explosive anti-tank warhead can penetrate 900mm thick steel armor behind explosive reactive armor, representing a 30% increase in armor penetration depth.
By selecting a collision or delay fuze, it can effectively target buildings, bunkers, field fortifications, and light armored vehicles. It can even penetrate a 200mm thick reinforced concrete structure and explode inside a building.
The missile features a new seeker equipped with an uncooled infrared imaging sensor and artificial intelligence target tracker technology, utilizing a radio frequency data link.
The missile can dive at a 70-degree angle to counter active defense systems on tanks. Using third-party positioning data, it offers fire-and-forget, launch-monitor-adjust, or indirect strike capabilities.
Extended Range Spike (Spike ER) / Extended Range Spike 2 (Spike ER2)
The extended-range Spike missile is an ultra-long-range variant designed for use on vehicles, helicopters, and boats. It has a range of 400 meters to 8,000 meters and is larger and heavier compared to other Spike models. The missile utilizes a composite guidance system combining uncooled infrared imaging, TV homing, and inertial navigation.
An uncooled infrared imaging seeker is mounted on the front of the missile, while the rear section houses the electronic unit, series warhead, and solid propellant rocket engine. The missile’s tandem anti-tank warhead can penetrate 1-meter-thick homogeneous armor. It can employ PBF combat units (from the MATADOR rocket) for engaging fortifications and buildings.
The extended-range Spike 2 expands upon the capabilities of the extended-range Spike missile. It incorporates a two-way radio frequency data link in addition to the optical fiber link. Soldiers can launch the missile without initially locking it onto a target and steer the missile toward the intended target.
The extended-range Spike missile can be integrated into various platforms, including wheeled and tracked vehicles, speedboats, frigates, reconnaissance helicopters, and armed helicopters. Its range is 10 kilometers for ground and surface platforms and 16 kilometers for helicopters.
The development of the indirect Spike missile dates back to the 1970s but remained secretive until 2014, when it was publicly revealed. Originally designed for the Pereh/Onager guided missile chariot, which disguised itself as a tank, the missile was hidden within a modified Magach 5 tank turret.
The earlier generations of the missile had cross-shaped front delta wings and four rectangular fins at the back. The fifth generation introduced a different design with two sets of rectangular cross wings unfolding upon launch.
The early versions of the indirect Spike weighed 70 kilograms and had a range of 25 kilometers. They featured a shaped charge warhead capable of penetrating 700 mm thick steel armor. The missile utilized a passive infrared homing guidance system and could operate in all weather conditions.
Data transmission within 8 kilometers was achieved through optical fiber, and beyond that range, a radio frequency link was utilized for bidirectional data transmission, with control handed over to the operator.
The sixth-generation indirect Spike boasts a range of 50 kilometers, supports four missile salvos, and allows control switching between launching platforms. Additionally, it possesses image acquisition capabilities and the ability to prioritize targets. The missile can also be utilized on UAV platforms similar to the Heron-TP.
The Pocket Spike is a miniature missile weighing only 4 kg, 70 cm long and 75 mm in diameter. Its cost and weight are only one-third of the long-range Spike, and its range is 1.3 kilometers to 1.5 kilometers farther than the short-range Spike. , the missile is suitable for urban street warfare, such as drilling into building windows or using the indirect aim to attack enemies hiding behind obstacles or shelters. Project development was halted in 2016.
Air Spike is a spike missile used by fixed-wing aircraft. It is developed from the long-range Spike 2. It weighs 14 kg, has longer wings, and improves the glide ratio. When the carrier aircraft launches from a height of 8,200 meters, the range reaches 30 kilometers rice.
The missile does not require global positioning system (GPS) support but combines scene-matching technology with detection and tracking functions.
Like most spike missiles, it also supports human-in-the-loop control, switching targets during flight, re-aiming and aborting missions, controllable approach angle/azimuth/flight trajectory, and the strike accuracy can reach 3 meters.
Spike Firefly is a miniature tactical loitering missile mainly used by infantry, marines and special forces in street warfare, and can be used for situational awareness, beyond visual range engagement, mobile force reconnaissance, and tactical reconnaissance in urban environments.
Each spike firefly system contains three loitering bombs and a control unit. Each loitering bomb weighs 3 kg, and a system weighs about 15 kg. The ammunition features a folding coaxial rotor with three removable support legs at the bottom to provide return capability.
Its seeker includes uncooled infrared, CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) daytime imaging and proximity sensors. The cruise missile can choose human-in-the-loop or autonomous control.
In autonomous mode, it can be controlled by setting beacon points and flight plans to navigate. The operator can abort the mission or prevent the loitering missile from returning to land to prevent it from being tracked by the enemy.
The bomb-loaded omnidirectional fragmentation warhead weighs 350 grams. During surveillance or reconnaissance missions, the battery life can be extended by replacing the battery.