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Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has used the Aero India 2021 expo to unveil a new variant of its SPICE 250 system. The new variant, dubbed SPICE 250 ER (Extended Range), is based on the smallest of the SPICE Family, which includes the SPICE 250, SPICE 1000 and the SPICE 2000 guidance kits. SPICE is a stand-off, autonomous, air-to-surface weapon systems that strikes targets with pinpoint accuracy and at high attack volumes. This can be done independently of GPS navigation, based on its autonomous electro-optic Scene-Matching Artificial Intelligence (AI) Algorithms.

SPICE 250 ER will incorporate a miniature turbo-jet engine with an internal JP-8/10 fuel system, providing the weapon a range of at least 150 km, while retaining the same mission-planning system, aircraft interfaces and aircrew operation. The weapon uses a common aircraft interface and sophisticated Smart Quad Rack (SQR), simplifying the effort needed for aircraft integration, with four SPICE 250s carried on each SQR. Additionally, SPICE 250 can be directly mounted on light attack aircraft store stations, thanks to its small size and light weight.

Rafael SPICE Family Traits

The SPICE 250 ER retains the external form-factor of the gliding variant by using all existing SQR and aircraft interfaces, enabling the same load-out. The ER variant also features the same capabilities as the gliding variant. These include the recently-unveiled Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) capability, Automatic Target Acquisition (ATA) and Moving-Target-Detection homing modes. The ATR feature is a technological breakthrough, enabling SPICE 250 ER to effectively learn the specific target characteristics ahead of the strike, using advanced AI and deep-learning technologies.

Before or during flight, target type, location and strike characteristics are defined for each weapon, either by the automated mission-planning or the pilot. The weapons fly towards the targets, using their INS for initial navigation. When approaching the target area, the weapons use their ATA and ATR modes for detection and recognition of the targets and precise aim-point. Each weapon homes-in on the pre-defined target, either autonomously or with a human-in-the-loop, aided by the ATR algorithm.

The combination of the increased load out of SPICE 250 variants, the unique homing methods for various scenarios, the ER, enable a high volume, autonomous, precision-strike capability against multiple target types. This assures very low collateral damage and at a cost-effective price-point.

Jack Richardson