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On 9 December 2022, the Finnish Ministry of Defence announced that they had authorised the Finnish Defence Forces to procure additional Spike anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The contract is valued at EUR 223.6 M, and covers procurement of the SPIKE-SR (Short-Range), SPIKE-LR2 (Long-Range), and SPIKE-ER2 (Extended Range) variants, however the quantities to be procured were not stated.

Finland has operated various versions of the Spike missile for a number of years, including the Medium Range (SPIKE-MR), Long Range (SPIKE-LR) and Extended Range (SPIKE-ER) missiles. The LR2 and ER2 covered in the procurement are the second iterations of the LR and ER respectively. The SR and LR2 variants are intended for the Finnish Army, while the ER2 version is intended for the Finnish Navy for use against, small surface targets such as landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles.

New to Finland is the lightweight SR version of the SPIKE, which is intended for the Finnish Army anti-tank troops. The introduction of the SPIKE-SR, and the supplementary procurement of the LR2 and ER2, will significantly boost the anti-armour and anti-vehicle capabilities of the Finnish Armed Forces.

The Spike anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), Photo: Rafael

The procurement is being implemented via the NATO Support and Procurement Agency’s (NSPA) Land Combat Missiles partnership. In addition to the missiles themselves, the procurement includes training, training equipment, maintenance equipment, documentation and spare parts. Maintenance of the missiles will be performed in cooperation with the Finnish company Millog Oy.

Originally developed by Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the SPIKE family of ATGMs is presently produced by Rafael as well as by the EUROSPIKE joint venture in Germany. The family contains numerous variants, with lighter variants generally intended for use by infantry and heavier variants intended for mounting on ground, aerial, and naval platforms.

All versions of the SPIKE Family of ATGMs are equipped with an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker with a lock-on-before-launch capability, permitting fire-and-forget engagements. In other words, the user acquires the target, locks the missile on to the target, using the missile’s imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, and launches the missile. At this point, the missile homes in on the target autonomously, with no further input needed, allowing the user to immediately leave the firing position. The LR2 and ER2 versions of the missile are additionally equipped with a fibre optic cable link to the launcher, allowing them to conduct engagements via the lock-on-after-launch targeting mode. Here, the missile is launched without being locked on to a specific target. Images from the IIR seeker are transmitted, via the fibre optic cable, back to the user, who can then observe the target area, lock the missile on to a particular target, switch targets in mid-flight or, should the guidance system for some reason fail to maintain a lock, manually guide the missile to impact.

The different variants of the SPIKE family vary in size and weight going from 9.6kg for the SPIKE-SR (plus launch container) at the lighter end, to 34 kg for the SPIKE-ER2 (plus launch container) at the medium end, and approximately 75 kg for the SPIKE NLOS variant. These correspond to the range values of the variants, with SPIKE-SR possessing an effective range from 50 m to 2 km, SPIKE-ER2  having a maximum range of 10 km when launched from the ground or 16 km when air-launched, and SPIKE NLOS able to reach out to 25 km or 32 km depending on whether it is ground or air-launched. All variants of the SPIKE ATGM family can be equipped with a tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, although on some versions this can be substituted for a Penetration-Blast-Fragmentation (PBF) warhead.

Thomas Nielsen