Israeli defense specialist Rafael (Static Display A8) has revealed the latest member of the Spike missile family at the Paris Air Show. The Spike LR II introduces a number of enhancements over the current Spike LR weapon, including network-enabled target allocation by a third party. The new weapon is still in development, with deliveries scheduled to begin in the last quarter of next year.
Spike LR II is lighter than its predecessor thanks to employing an uncooled infrared seeker that replaces the current weapon’s unit that requires a gas cylinder and associated ducting for cooling the seeker. The new seeker head also incorporates a high-definition color day sensor and advanced auto-tracking that considerably reduces the tracking burden on the operator.
New warheads have been developed for the 28-lb (12.7-kg) missile, comprising a tandem HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank) round that improves armor penetration capability by 30 percent, and a multi-purpose blast warhead that features selectable fuzing options. The motor has been improved to increase range, which in its helicopter-launched application reaches to 10 km (6.2 miles).
Spike II LR is designed for use from ground, vehicle, ship and helicopter platforms, and can be fired from existing Spike launchers with only minor software changes. The helicopter-launched version has a small radio frequency datalink unit for two-way communication with a unit that is embedded in a new “smart” launcher that has been developed for the missile. This link is in addition to the existing fiber-optic cable link used by the current Spike LR. However, in the case of the Spike LR II the cable link has an extended-range capability out to 5.5 km (3.42 miles).
Once the target has been designated the auto-tracker maintains its aimpoint, allowing the operator to turn to other tasks, although the two-way link allows the missile to be tracked and re-targeted in flight. The auto-tracking function incorporates artificial intelligence to maintain its precise aimpoint even when the target is temporarily obscured from the seeker’s view. Spike LR II also has an embedded IMU (inertial measurement unit), which permits the missile to accept third-party target allocation using grid co-ordinates.