Spike (missile)

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Spike ATGM Command & launcher unit (CLU) with mock-up Spike-LR missile mounted on a tripod at Singapore Army Open House 2007
Type Anti-tank missile
Place of origin Israel
Service history
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
Production history
Designed Late 1970s (Spike NLOS)
Manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Diehl BGT Defence (Now part of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics)
Bharat Dynamics[1]
Produced Early 1980s – present (Spike NLOS) 1997–present
Variants See versions
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:[2]
• 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
Effective firing range 800m (Spike-SR) 2,500m (Spike-MR) 4,000m (Spike-LR) 25,000m (Spike NLOS)
Sights 10× optical sight
Warhead Tandem-charge HEAT warhead

Engine Solid-fuel rocket
Infrared homing – Electro Optical (CCD, IR or Dual CCD/IIR), Passive CCD or dual CCD/IIR seeker

Spike is an Israeli fourth generation[3] 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. As of 2016, some 25,600 missiles of the Spike family have been sold to 25 nations.[4]

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;[3] 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.[citation needed]


Cut away diagram of Spike ATGM.
Frontal close-up of the Spike missile's Command & launch unit (CLU) with thermal-imaging sight, tripod mount and an attached dummy missile canister.

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 – that 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.[5][6] Both Israel and the United States have experimented with arming Black Hawk helicopters with the Spike missile; the US variant is called UH-60M Battlehawk.[7]


In order to facilitate the selling of the weapon system in Europe, the company EuroSpike GmbH was formed in Germany. Its shareholders Diehl BGT 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.[8]

For other areas of the world, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is solely responsible.[9]


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.[2]

the short range version of the weapon is a 9 kg weapon whose minimum range is 50 m (160 ft), while the maximum range is 1,500 m (4,900 ft).[10] 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).[10] The missile is capable of 'Fire from enclosure', which makes it suitable for use in urban environments. The warhead is either a tandem charge HEAT design, allowing the missile to defeat ERA or APS systems, or a new Penetration-Blast-Fragmentation (PBF) variant.[10]
Israeli soldier with MR/LR type Spike launcher
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.[11]
long range version (also known as "Gil"). 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).[12] 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.[13] Reported armour penetration capability is more than 700 mm (28 in) of Rolled homogeneous armour (RHA).[14]
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).[15] 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.[14]
Spike NLOS
"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 a significantly larger missile than other Spike variants with an overall weight of around 70 kg (154 lb 5 oz) that 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.[16][17][18][not in citation given]
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. The UK initially acquired 600 missiles which it designated EXACTOR-1 in British service, later procuring a more advanced variant designated EXACTOR-2.[19] In a deal concluded on 6 September 2011, the South Korean government had agreed to purchase an unknown number of Spike NLOS missiles.[20][21]
External images
Mini Spike Anti-personnel guided weapon
Mini Spike with integral CLU
Mini Spike with attached Spike CLU
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).[22][23] 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.[24] Eventually in 2016 Mini-Spike development discontinued.[10]


Map with Spike operators in blue
Singapore Airshow 2008, a locally developed twin-tube launcher for the Spike as mounted on a Light Strike Vehicle of the Singapore Army.
Spike NLOS is being fired from Plasan Sand Cat armored vehicle of Republic of Korea Marine Corps.
100 Spike-LR missile system.[25]
60 Spike-MR missile systems ordered.[26]
Total 2,100 Spike-LR/MR missiles.[25]
Total 300 Spike-MR/LR and 15 Spike-ER missiles.[25] The Colombian National Army Aviation's fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Arpia IV[27]-series helicopters are armed with three variants of the Spike: the ER, LR and NLOS.[28]
Croatia has reportedly ordered about 30–60 Spike launchers for its Patria AMV armored vehicles.[29] However, Croatia might opt for Javelin launchers as the new Kongsberg 30 mm Turret for Patria is fitted with Javelin launchers and not Spike. Croatia has indicated a requirement for 48 launchers as part of the Patria program with the first 16 being delivered by 2015 and remaining launchers after that.
 Czech Republic
In 2009, Czech government purchased 107 Pandur IIs, most equipped with Rafael RCWS, housing 30mm autocannon, 7.62mm machine gun and 2 Spike ATGMs.
Total 244 missiles, delivered October 2009.[30]
Total 700 missiles, breakdown being 300 Spike-MR with the remaining 400 being Spike-ER.[25] 100 MR (Panssarintorjuntaohjusjärjestelmä 2000) launchers plus an option for 70 more, and 18 ER (Rannikko-ohjus 2006) launchers for coastal anti-ship use.[31] Also Spike-LR missiles as a newer purchase.[32]
Total 4,000 Spike-LR missiles,[25] 311 LR launchers on Puma vehicles.[33]
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.[34][35][36] In October 2014, India chose to buy the Spike over the U.S. Javelin.[37] 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.[38]
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.[17]
first contract for Italian Army was in 2003 for 53,6 million Euros: 53 launchers and 510 missile (165 of which 165 MR); second contract in 2009, 120 million Euros: 90 launchers (84 for Italian Army, 6 for Italian Navy) and 990 missile LR, of which 110 for Navy: inside 21 launchers for the VTLM Lince, 20 LR launchers for the Dardo IFV, 28 indoor and 39 outdoor training systems. 36 LR launchers with unknown number LR/ER missiles was inside the 2006's contract for the IVECO 8X8 Freccia. In 2010 Italian Army buys 800 Spike ER for 63 millions Euro, to update AW-129 Mangusta, in delivering since 2010 to 2014 (SIPRI 2013). Is expected almost another batch for 175 launchers and 2.002 missiles.[39]
Total 12 Spike-LR.[31][40][41]
On December 11, 2015 Lithuania decided to buy 88 Boxer armored vehicles armed with Spike-LR missiles.[42]
Total 2,400 Spike-MR missiles, 297 launchers.[31]
Total 516 Spike-LR missiles, 48 launchers.250 Spike -MR missiles, 64 launchers, 450 Spike ER missiles, 80 launchers. [25]
Spike-ER missiles mounted in Mini-Typhoon Weapon Stations.[43]
Total 2,675 Spike-LR missiles, 264 launchers.[25] Additional 1,000 Spike-LR missiles on order.[44][45]
Total 20 Spike-MR/LR missiles.[25]
Total 1,950 missiles, breakdown being 1,000 Spike-ER with the remaining 950 being Spike-LR. For use on IAR 330 SOCAT attack helicopters and MLI-84M IFVs.[25]
In 1999, Singapore became the second country to acquire the Spike ATGM.[46] Total 1,000 Spike-LR missiles, with associated launchers.[25]
Spike MR/LR has been in operational use in the Slovenian Armed Forces since 2009.[47] Total 75 missiles. Some will be on Patria AMVs.[citation needed]
 South Korea
A South Korean government deal concluded on 6 September 2011 has confirmed the procurement of unspecified numbers of Spike NLOS, of which about 50 missiles will be forward deployed to the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong, close to the Northern Limit Line with North Korea.[20][21] On 19 May 2013 the South Korean military confirmed that "dozens" of Spike missiles had been deployed on the islands.[48] The Republic of Korea Navy will also deploy the Spike NLOS on AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters.[49]
Total 2,800 missiles, breakdown being 2,600 Spike-LR with remaining 200 being Spike-ER.[25] 236 Spike LR launchers (option for 100 more), 2,360 missiles for Spanish army, 24 Spike LR launchers and 240 missiles for Spanish marines. Spike ER on Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters (Spanish army).[31]
 United Kingdom
Over 600 Spike NLOS missiles purchased by the British Army, in the first order in 2007. 14 M113s equipped with Spike NLOS launchers, under the codename of 'Exactor'. Operated by the British Army during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.[19][31][50][51]


Spike is a contender along with Javelin.[53][54][55]
Spike-MR is a contender along with Javelin.[56]
In January 1998, a partnership arrangement was announced between Israeli 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.[57] Eventually, Ka-50-2 lost to TAI/AgustaWestland T-129. Turkey has also examined the use of Rafael Overhead Weapon Station with Spike for its Otokar Cobra light armored vehicles.[57][58]
 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.[57]
 United States
The Spike was offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as a possible contender in the US Army JAWS missile program in 1996, now called FOTT (Follow-On-To-TOW). The offer was rejected, but there have been suggestions that the missile might be tested as part of US Foreign Comparative Trials.[57] Spike has also been test fired from an unmanned surface vessel precision engagement module (USV PEM) operated by the US Navy as part of a project to evaluate unmanned surface combat capabilities.[57][59]

Comparable systems


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External links

Video links