Rafael's Spike-ER2: Unveiled with 16 km Extended Strike Range
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Rafael's Spike-ER2: Unveiled with 16 km Extended Strike Range

By IndraStra Global News Team

Image Attribute: The file photo of Spike Missile
Image Attribute: The file photo of Spike Missile

On August 31, 2018, Israeli weapon manufacturer Rafael unveiled Spike-ER2, a fifth-generation multipurpose precision-guided missile system, which is an enhanced stand-off version of 170 mm Spike-ER with a new extended range of 16 km (9.94 mi) and other capability augmentations.

A basic Spike-ER is an 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 minimum range of 400 m and a maximum range of 8,000 m (8 km/4.97 mi). It seeker combines electro-optical sensors (Infrared-IR/Charge-coupled devices-CCD TV) to achieve its operational objectives in fire-and-forget, fire, observe and update launch options, and fire-and-steer (lock-on-after-launch) engagement modes.

But, the enhanced version — Spike-ER2 — incorporates a new real-time lightweight radio frequency (RF) wireless two-way data link (in sync with the missile’s software package) which especially boosts the stand-off range from 8 km to 16 km from rotary platforms (helicopter-launch) by optimizing the energetics/trajectory of the missile. The earlier version's 8 km fiber-optic data link had a limitation as for when the spool of fiber-optic gets expended, the missile used to move into fire-and-forget mode.

The company intends to offer Spike-ER2 with an extended fiber-optic data link option for the both naval and land operations — to engage targets at ranges out to 10 km. The new Spike-ER2 retains the same weight, airframe, surface geometries, and propulsion unit as the Spike-ER. 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.

Currently, the Finnish Navy's Coastal Jaegers and Philippine Navy's Multi-purpose Attack Craft Mk.III operate Spike-ER version in the anti-ship role.

Possible Export Destination  India

In July 2017, India expressed interest in buying Spike missiles through the government-to-government (G-to-G) route. But, later in February 2018, Defence Research & Development Organization (DRDO) successfully tested 190 mm Prospina (Nag) in desert conditions (at Pokhran Testing Range in Jaisalmer district) against two tank targets at different ranges and timings, paving the way for its induction into the Indian Army and resulting into the cancellation of the deal. However, in June 2018, Indian Army revived the Spike acquisition deal as a "Stop-Gap" measure before the DRDO can come up with an indigenous anti-tank missile of its own within the next three years. Sources claim the negotiations are in the final stages. And, with the removal of the ban on activities involving Rafael by the Indian government, its time to see how Rafael can directly play any role in current negotiations with its new chip on the block.

Also, kindly do note, on August 16, 2018, HELINA weapon system - the rotary platform (helicopter-launch) version of Prospina (Nag) missile was successfully flight tested from an Indian Army helicopter in the desert areas (at Pokhran Testing Range in Jaisalmer district). The operational characteristics are quite similar to Spike-ER2 but the strike range is limited to 7-8 km. The induction of the missile is likely to happen in 2019. So, it yet to find, whether Spike-ER2 will be the part of the Indian Army's "Stop-Gap" measure.