Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., is expanding its Spike guided missile family with the introduction of Spike ER2, an extended-range tactical missile the company positions to equip attack helicopters, combat vehicles, and mall boats. The development of the new variant is expected to complete this year.
With a new multi-sensor seeker and datalink, the new ER2 variant enhances the range, agility, and target acquisition capabilities of the Spike-ER, enabling vehicles, boats and, particularly helicopters, to engage targets from longer stand-off ranges utilizing third-party targeting techniques (such as UAVs) previously unavailable for such tactical weapons. The enhanced missile is designed to equip combat vehicles, boats, and combat helicopters currently operating the Spike-ER variant.
Launching the new weapon at the MSPO event in Poland, Rafael aims at a Polish plan to replace the Russian origin weaponry on their Mi24 and Sokol helicopters. Currently, those Mi-24 Hinds do not use any anti-tank guided missiles, as the helicopters’ legacy weapons that were produced in Russia are too short range and put the helicopter in great danger from enemy fire.
Providing the Mi-24 with Spike ER2 would enable this gunship to destroy targets from a safe distance, relying on its own target acquisition equipment or on a third party (such as UAV). The Spike missile is already operational on a Mi-24 platform of another country.
Germany is also a potential customer for the missile, with a possible upgrading of the Tiger UHT. Currently deployed with MBDA’s PARS 3 LR missiles. Both France and Germany consider collaborating in the upgrading of their Tiger helicopters, although the two variants do not share the same weapons and mission systems. Rafael has already established local production and support for the Spike family of missiles in Poland and Germany in support of the current missile acquisitions in those countries.
As a ‘5th Generation’ missile, Spike ER2 features a number of new capabilities. First and foremost, for surface launch applications, the range is extended from eight to ten kilometers. For Spike ER2 missiles fired from helicopters, Rafael now offers an option to replace the optical fiber data link with an RF datalink (similar to the Spike LR2), thus extending the range to 16 km., matching the missile’s energetic potential. To operate at such distances the system now provides Non-Line-of-Sight (NLOS) engagement capabilities such as launch to a specific grid coordinate, where the operator can designate the target. The new missile retains the Spike’s size, weight (<35 kg), and lethality.
The Spike ER2 seeker has also been improved with the introduction of an advanced multi-sensor imager comprising a high-resolution IR and day sensors, that enable target acquisition at extended range. The target tracker is also multispectral, performing continuous sensory data fusion – an important feature that improves the missile’s performance even in adverse visibility conditions and against extensive obscurants.
[wlm_ismember]A unique feature of the new SPIKE ER2 seeker is the capability to quickly swap between IR and day sensors in flight, a technique used to detect targets under camouflage. This capability is enabled also in the LR2 version. The missile utilizes an embedded inertial measurement unit (IMU) to navigate unguided through a mid-course flight, to reach a designated location where it establishes contact with the operator, to acquire the target. Unlike laser designation, SPIKE ER has no laser emission that would warn the target of the imminent attack.
The missiles’ advanced Tandem HEAT warhead has armor penetration capabilities of all known MBT’s. The missile can be set to use a high angle of attack, to further improve anti-tank capability. The standard armor piercing warhead has inherent anti-structure capabilities. Rafael also offers a version of the missile optimized for anti-fortification and anti-ship applications, equipped with Penetration, Blast, and Fragmentation (PBF) Warhead.
Spike ER2 is an upgrade of the 8 km SPIKE ER (Extended Range) missile, which boasts a vast platform portfolio, including the Spanish Army aviation Tiger helicopter, the Colombian Air Force Blackhawk, the Italian AW129 Mangusta, the Romanian Super Puma helicopter, the Super Cobra, and many different types of ground vehicles and naval vessels. As the Spike LR2, the new ER2 missile is compatible to all SPIKE missile family legacy launchers, requiring only a software update.
Rafael is designating the SPIKE ER2 for the German Tiger Program, leveraging the integration of the SPIKE-ER to the Spanish Tiger. The built-in compatibility of the SPIKE ER2 to the existing launcher will essentially enable a plug-and-play solution with no risk of integration, at a low cost. The SPIKE ER2 will also be offered to Polish Army as both a surface-to-surface vehicle-mounted standoff precision-guided missile (PGM), as well as rotary PGM for the upgraded MI24 and Sokol helicopters.
Spike ER2 is part of the legacy of the wider SPIKE Missile family, which has evolved into one of the most combat-proven missiles, integrated to more than 45 platforms, in use by 30 nations, with over 30,000 missiles already supplied and 5,000 missiles fired.[/wlm_ismember]