Spike missile

Poland expands its collaboration with the Israeli firm Rafael, acquiring a new series of Spike anti-tank missiles.

Poland acquires Israeli-designed Spike missiles.

The Polish Ministry of Defense has confirmed a third order for long-range Spike missiles from Rafael, an Israeli company. Rafael’s long-time industrial partner, Mesko, will be in charge of local component production and final assembly.

Although the specific number of missiles has not been disclosed, the value of the contract is estimated to be close to 100 million dollars, according to an official statement from the Israeli supplier.

Over the past two decades, Poland has procured approximately 4,000 SpikePoland to manufacture Israeli-designed Spike anti-tank missiles missiles, with the first batch procured in 2003, followed by another in 2015.

Historical collaboration between Mesko and Rafael

Poland to manufacture Israeli-designed Spike anti-tank missilesNLOS Typhoon MLS naval missile system. (Photo by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems)

Since 2003, Mesko and Rafael have worked together for the Polish market. This collaboration has resulted in the sale of missiles 100% manufactured in Poland, having already produced more than 3,000 units in Polish territory.

In 2020, this industrial alliance was reaffirmed with the signing of an agreement for the co-production of short-range Spike missiles under the Polish national Pustelnik program.

With Mesko’s experience in the production and assembly of Spike missile parts, the necessary infrastructure was already in place to manufacture this shorter-range version.

A unique sales channel in Poland

The procurement method adopted by Poland for these missiles is unique, unlike other European customers of Spike missiles. Typically, these missiles are produced by EuroSpike GmbH in Germany, an alliance between Diehl Defence, Rheinmetall and Rafael.

Through Mesko, Poland has established a model of local production, which contrasts with the centralized approach in Germany adopted by other European countries.

What is the Spike, and what are its main capabilities?

The Spike is an Israeli anti-tank and anti-personnel “fire-and-forget” missile with a tandem-loaded HEAT warhead. It can engage and destroy targets within the caster’s line of sight, and some variants can perform a top attack using a “fire, observe and update” method. It is characterized by the ability to track post-launch targets and switch targets optically via an en-route fiber optic cable.

What is the company behind the development of the Spike missile and what variants are there?

The Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems developed and designed the Spike missile. It is available in man-portable, vehicle-launched and helicopter-launched variants.

How does Spike’s “Fire, Observe and Update” mode of operation work?

The missile is connected by a fiber optic cable that runs between the launch position and the missile. This allows the operator to obtain a target that is not in the line of sight at launch, change targets in flight, or compensate for target movement if, for some reason, the missile is not tracking the target. The missile can also be fired speculatively for targets of opportunity or to look across an obstacle.

What advanced technologies are integrated into the Spike missile system?

The Spike integrates a self-seeking automatic guidance system with pre-launch lockup, an infrared image seeker, and thermal tracking technology. In addition, the long and extended range versions of the Spike have a “Fire, Observe and Update” mode of operation that uses a fiber optic cable to communicate with the operator, allowing tracking and changing of targets in flight.

On which vehicles and platforms have the Spike missile system been tested or deployed?

Spike has been tested as a SAGEM Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle weapon system. The Spanish Army has equipped the Spike-ER on its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters. Both Israel and the United States have experimented with arming Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with the Spike missile being used on US UH-60M Battlehawk helicopters. Additionally, it can be operated by infantry and mounted on vehicles such as fast attack vehicles, armored personnel carriers or utility vehicles.