U.S. Navy Develops EO Guided Spike


The miniature electro-optically guided, ‘fire and forget’ SPIKE missile was developed by the US Navy Weapons Division of the Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division (NAWCWD) with assistance of DRS Technologies. Originally designed as a man-portable weapon for the Marines and the Navy’s special operations force, Spike fills a critical niche for a low-cost, lightweight guided weapon for U.S. ground forces.

A modular, low-cost, high precision missile capable of engaging ‘asymmetric aggressors’ in complex terrain, at ranges exceeding 2 miles, with high precision, and minimal risk of collateral damage. The missile was designed as very low cost weapon, with unit cost goal of US$5,000. The Spike weighs about five pounds (2.26 kg), and is 25 in. (63.5 cm) long. It uses fire and forget guidance using a general purpose strap-down electro-optical seeker. It was designed as a shoulder fired tactical missile or a UGV, UAV boat or ship launched weapon. The warhead weighing about 1 pound (450 gr.) is located at the center and employs Explosively Formed Projectile effect to drive a focused yet lethal effect. NAWCWD plans to test the Spike missile with a new lightweight weapons management system (WMS) developed for small UAVs.

The missile uses EO / Semi-Active Laser (SAL) seeker to engage laser designated targets from a distance of two miles. It’s potential applications go beyond ground combat; it is a realistic armament choice for tactical unmanned aerial vehicles and a force-protection weapon to defend surface ships from small-boat swarms or light aircraft.

The missile performed its first controlled flights in 2005. SPIKE will offer safer, more accurate alternative to rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The compact system is tailored for man-portable operations. Three missiles and a launcher could fit in a standard military backpack. Due to its light weight, Spike is considered to arm unmanned systems. According to John Baylouny, vice president of DRS Technologies, Spike missile could be used on almost any UAV and that “future spirals” in the program are expected to involve putting Spike on unmanned aircraft. Spike has already been tested with the DRS Sentry HP drone at Eglin AFB, Florida, as part of US Air Force UAV Battlelab evaluation.