The Israeli Air Force (IAF) has equipped its AH-64 APACHE attack helicopters with two versions of Rafael anti-tank missiles, which it is now offering to the German Army aviation. According to the IAF, the two types have increased dramatically the fire power of this combat helicopter with the APACHE carrying the two versions on the same launcher, while the configuration can be tailoured according to the mission. These are the SPIKE LR2 (Gil-2) and SPIKE NLOS (TAMMUZ) missiles which give extra firepower not only to helicopters, but also to infantry soldiers.
SPIKE LR2 is a fire and forget missile equipped with four fins at the rear and another four at the centre of the missile body, with the tail fins ensuring guidance during the flight, while the wings ensure stabilisation and lift. SPIKE LR2 can engage targets at a range of 5.5km when fired from the ground launcher, while the missile launched from the helicopter can attain a maximum range of 10km.
SPIKE NLOS is a multi-purpose, multi-platform, precision guided missile system equipped with a dual-mode electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) seeker and a real-time encrypted radio frequency (RF) two-way datalink. With a stated maximum range of 30 km, the missile can be equipped with three warhead options: tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT), penetrating blast fragmentation (PBF), and fragmentation. Gal Papier, director of marketing and business development at Rafael’s Precision Tactical Weapon Systems directorate said that the SPIKE LR 2 anti-tank missile can carry two types of warheads including tandem and multipurpose blast warheads. The tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead improves the armour penetration capability of the missile by 30%. The blast warhead is equipped with a time-delay fuse to detonate within the structure to increase lethality and impose more damage to reinforced targets, vehicles and marine vessels.
Commonalities between the missiles of the SPIKE family reduce the production, acquisition, and maintenance and training costs for the operators.
Last year, Eurospike, a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Diehl Defence GmbH & Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH, signed a multi-year framework contract for the supply of SPIKE (also known as MELLS in Germany) Missiles & launchers to the German Army. The missiles and launchers will be manufactured in Germany by local companies, in keeping with RAFAEL’s global policy of teaming up with domestic industry, resulting in knowledge transfer and local job creation. As part of the framework contract, the first order was made for the supply of 1500 SPIKE rounds, as well as hundreds of RAFAEL’S new ICLU (Integrated Control Launch Unit) dismounted missile launchers.
The multi-year framework contract will allow the Bundeswehr to continue procuring additional SPIKE Missiles in the next few years to reach its goal of a high launcher-to-missile ratio. The German Army is already currently using the dismounted portable SPIKE (MELLS) launcher; the vehicle-mounted launcher has been introduced on the PUMA vehicles earmarked for VJTF and is scheduled to replace the current TOW weapon systems on the entire PUMA, MARDER and WIESEL 1 fleets until the end of 2021.