Spike (ATGM)

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Spike ATGM Command & launcher unit (CLU) with mock-up Spike-LR missile mounted on a tripod at Singapore Army Open House 2007
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of origin Israel
Service history
In service1981–present (Spike NLOS) 1997–present
Used bySee Operators
Wars1982 Lebanon War, Second Intifada, Iraq War, 2006 Lebanon War, War in Afghanistan (2001–present), Gaza War, 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict
Production history
DesignedLate 1970s (Spike NLOS)
ManufacturerRafael Advanced Defense Systems
Diehl BGT Defence (Now part of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics)
Bharat Dynamics[1]
ProducedEarly 1980s – present (Spike NLOS) 1997–present
No. builtover 27,000[2]
VariantsSee versions
MassSpike-ER from helicopter:

• Missile in canister: 34 kg (74 lb 15 oz)
• Launcher: 55 kg (121 lb 4 oz)
• Launcher + 4 missiles: 187 kg (412 lb 4 oz)
Spike-MR/LR from ground:[3]
• Missile round: 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz)
• Command & launch unit (CLU): 5 kg (11 lb 0 oz)
• Tripod: 2.8 kg (6 lb 3 oz)
• Battery: 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz)

• Thermal sight: 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz)
Length1,670 mm (5 ft 6 in) (Missile w/launcher)
Diameter170 mm (6.7 in) (Missile w/launcher)

Rate of fireReady to launch in 30 seconds, reload in 15 seconds
Effective firing range1.5 km (Spike-SR)
2.5 km (Spike-MR)
4 km (Spike-LR)
8 km (Spike-ER)
25 km (Spike NLOS)
Sights10× optical sight
WarheadTandem-charge HEAT warhead

EngineSolid-fuel rocket
Infrared homing – Electro Optical (CCD, IR or Dual CCD/IIR), Passive CCD or dual CCD/IIR seeker

Spike is an Israeli fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charge HEAT warhead, currently in its fourth-generation.[4] It was developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It is available in man-portable, vehicle-launched, and helicopter-launched variants.

As well as engaging and destroying targets within the line-of-sight of the launcher ("fire-and-forget"), some variants of the missile are capable of making a top-attack profile through a "fire, observe and update" guidance method;[4] the operator tracking the target, or switching to another target, optically through the trailing fiber-optic wire (or RF link in the case of the vehicle-mounted, long-range NLOS variant) while the missile is climbing to altitude after launch. This is similar to the lofted trajectory flight profile of the US FGM-148 Javelin.


Cut away diagram of Spike ATGM.
Frontal close-up of the Spike missile's Command & launch unit (CLU) with thermal-imaging sight, tripod mount and an attached dummy missile canister.

Spike is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker.

The long and extended range versions of the Spike also have the capability of "Fire, Observe and Update" operating mode. The missile is connected by a fiber-optical wire that is spooled out between the launch position and the missile. With this, the operator can obtain a target if it is not in the line of sight of the operator at launch, switch targets in flight, or compensate for the movement of the target if the missile is not tracking the target for some reason. Hence, the missile can be fired speculatively for a target of opportunity, or to provide observation on the other side of an obstacle. The missile has a soft launch capability – the motor firing after the missile has left the launcher – that allows for the missile to be fired from confined spaces, which is a necessity in urban warfare.

The missile uses a tandem warhead consisting of two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to detonate any explosive reactive armor, and a primary warhead to penetrate the underlying armor. Currently, it is replacing aging second generation anti-tank missiles like the MILAN and M47 Dragon in the armies of the user nations.

The Spike system is made up of the launching tripod with its fire control unit and the missile. There is no dedicated thermal sight on the launcher – the missile's imaging seeker is used. Altogether, the long range variant of the system weighs around 26 kg (57 lb).

Spike can be operated from the launcher by infantry, or from mounts that can be fitted to vehicles such as fast attack vehicles, armored personnel carriers or utility vehicles. Vehicles that are not normally fitted with anti-tank weapons can therefore be given anti-tank capability.

Spike has been tested as a weapon system for the SAGEM Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle. The Spanish Army has fitted the Spike-ER to its Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters.[5][6] Both Israel and the United States have experimented with arming Black Hawk helicopters with the Spike missile; the US variant is used in UH-60M Battlehawk helicopters.[7]


In order to facilitate the selling of the weapon system in Europe, the company EuroSpike GmbH was formed in Germany. Its shareholders Diehl BGT Defence (40%), Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (40%) and Rafael via ERCAS B.V (20%). ERCAS B.V. is a Dutch holding company owned 100% by Rafael. EuroSpike GmbH is located in Röthenbach, Germany. The European variant of the Spike weapon system differs a little from the Israeli version and is marketed under the name EuroSpike.[8]

For other areas of the world, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. is solely responsible.[9]


The reusable Command & launch unit (CLU), battery, tripod and the thermal sight are common for both MR and LR versions of the Spike missile family, each weighing 5 kg (11 lb 0 oz), 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz), 2.8 kg (6 lb 3 oz), and 4 kg (8 lb 13 oz) respectively.[3]


The short range version of the weapon was unveiled in 2012 to give infantrymen a guided missile between the larger Spike-MR and unguided rockets.[10] The missile is 8 kg (17 lb 10 oz) for a 9.8 kg (21 lb 10 oz) disposable munition for use at platoon-level whose minimum range is 50 m (160 ft) and whose maximum range is 1.5 km (0.93 mi). It is equipped with a stiff-necked uncooled electro-optical infrared seeker and advanced tracker, as opposed to the gimballed seeker in the Spike MR/LR/ER versions.[11] The Spike-SR does not require a separate sight, instead utilizing the low-cost thermal camera and guidance electronics strapped to the missile's nose to provide this function through a display integrated into the launcher, showing the target until launch.[12] The warhead can either be a multi-purpose tandem shaped-charge warhead with blast-fragmentation effect[10] or a new Penetration-Blast-Fragmentation (PBF) variant leveraged from the MATADOR's anti-structure warhead to equip maneuvering forces in urban environments to breach enemy cover and structures with a lethal blast effect.[11] In May 2016 Rafael concluded deliveries of Spike-SR to its first export customer,[13] later revealed to be the Singapore Armed Forces to replace the Carl Gustav M2.[14]

Israeli soldier with MR/LR type Spike launcher


The medium range version (also known as "Gil"). The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), its minimum range is 200 m, while its maximum range is 2,500 m (1.6 mi). It is used by infantry and special forces.[15]


Long range version. The weight of the missile is 14 kg (30 lb 14 oz), and the weight of the complete system is less than 45 kg (99 lb 3 oz).[16] Maximum range is 4,000 m (2.5 mi) and it is used by infantry and light combat vehicles. It adds fiber-optic communication to and from the operator during flight.[17] Reported armour penetration capability is more than 700 mm (28 in) of Rolled homogeneous armour (RHA).[18] It is also deployed by Sentry Tech remotely controlled weapons stations along the Gaza border.[19] In early 2014, Rafael revealed they had increased the range of the Spike-LR to 5 km (3.1 mi), enhancing versatility on existing firing platforms and allowing it to be utilized on new ones like light helicopters.[20]

Spike-LR II[edit]

A new generation of the original Spike-LR is in full-scale development and scheduled to be operational by the end of 2018. Spike-LR II (called in Israel, Gil 2, גיל 2) has reduced weight to 12.7 kg (28 lb), increased range of 5.5 km (3.4 mi) at ground level and 10 km (6.2 mi) from helicopters using an RF data-link, warhead options of tandem HEAT with 30% increased armor penetration or a multipurpose blast warhead with selectable impact or penetration detonation fusing, a new seeker that includes an uncooled IR sensor with a smart target tracker with artificial intelligence features, the ability to fire on grid target coordinates using an inertial measurement unit for third party-target allocation, and is compatible with legacy launchers. The missile is designed with a counter-active protection system (CAPS) capability, being able to hit targets at higher impact angles of up to 70 degrees.[21][2] First ordered by the IDF in October 2017.[22]


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 (5.0 mi).[23] It has a larger diameter and is heavier than the other systems, and is usually vehicle mounted. It is used by infantry, Light Combat Vehicle (LCVs), and helicopters. The Finnish Navy's Coastal Jaegers and Philippine Navy's Multi-purpose Attack Craft Mk.III also operate this version in the anti-ship role. 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.[18]

Spike-ER II[edit]

In August 2018, Rafael disclosed the development of an enhancement of the missile called the Spike-ER II. It retains the same weight, airframe, surface geometries, and propulsion unit but introduces a two-way RF data-link to increase real-time control to an extended range of 16 km (9.9 mi) from helicopters; it also has an extended fiber optic link to increase range to 10 km (6.2 mi) from land and naval platforms.[24]

Spike NLOS[edit]

"Non Line Of Sight" is an ultra long-range version of the weapon, with a claimed maximum range of 25 km (16 mi). It is a significantly larger missile than other Spike variants, with an overall weight of around 70 kg (154 lb 5 oz). It can be launched from the ground or from helicopters. It was developed following lessons learned in the Yom Kippur War, which showed a need for a high-precision guided tactical ground-to-ground battlefield missile. Codenamed Tamuz (תמוז), the first variants entered service with the IDF in tandem with the Pereh missile carrier in 1981, though the existence of both was not revealed to the public until 2011.[25][26][27] The Spike NLOS uses a fiber optic link similar to other Spike versions, but only out to 8 km, after which it employs a radio data link for command guidance.[28]

In 2011 it also became known that in a highly unusual move, the British Army was hastily equipped with the missile, drawn directly from IDF inventory after being exposed to increasing insurgent attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2007. The UK initially acquired 600 missiles, which it designated EXACTOR-1 in British service, later procuring a more advanced variant designated EXACTOR-2.[29] In a deal concluded on 6 September 2011, the South Korean government had agreed to purchase an unknown number of Spike NLOS missiles.[30][31]

Rafael is working on expanding the missile's versatility by enhancing the existing EO-IR/CCD seeker with semi-active laser (SAL) capability and different anti-armor, blast-penetration, and high-explosive fragmentation warheads to meet specific applications.[20]


On 2 September 2009, at an IDF exhibition held at the 3rd Latrun annual land warfare conference, the Israeli Defense Force unveiled a new member of the Spike family of missiles – the Mini Spike Anti-personnel guided weapon (APGW).[32][33] Rafael claimed that this latest member of the Spike family of missile costs and weighed only a third of the Spike-LR at 4 kg (8.8 lb), while offering a longer engagement range of 1.3–1.5 km (0.81–0.93 mi) when compared to the Spike-SR. It was to introduce new flight modes to enable precision strikes in urban areas, such as flying through an open windows or attacking an enemy hidden behind defilade or obstacles using non-line-of-sight engagement. Mini Spike would use the same launcher and sight system of the Spike-LR, loading the missile on a special adaptor.[12][34] Eventually, by 2016 Mini-Spike development had been discontinued.[11]


Map with Spike operators in blue
Spike-LR.[35] Australia has finalized the purchase in May 2018.[36]
100 Spike-LR missile system.[37] Some of them mounted on Plasan Sand Cat vehicles.[38]
60 Spike-MR/LR missile systems.[39][40]
Total 2,100 Spike-LR/MR/ER missiles.[37]
Total 300 Spike-MR/LR and 15 Spike-ER missiles.[37] The Colombian National Army Aviation's fleet of Sikorsky UH-60 Arpia IV[41]-series helicopters are armed with three variants of the Spike: the ER, LR and NLOS.[42]
Croatia has reportedly ordered 20 Spike launchers for its Patria AMV armored vehicles.[43] Croatia has indicated a requirement for 48 launchers as part of the Patria program with the first 16 being delivered by 2017 and remaining launchers after that. Croatian Army has requirement for up to 300 launchers, replacing old soviet systems, however no purchase made of additional systems for ground combat units.
 Czech Republic
Mounted on KBVP versions of Pandur II IFVs.
Total 244 missiles, delivered October 2009.[44]
Total 700 missiles, breakdown being 300 Spike-MR with the remaining 400 being Spike-ER.[37] 100 MR (Panssarintorjuntaohjusjärjestelmä 2000) launchers plus an option for 70 more, and 18 ER (Rannikko-ohjus 2006) launchers for coastal anti-ship use.[45] Also Spike-LR missiles as a newer purchase.[46]
Total 4,000 Spike-LR missiles,[37] 311 LR launchers on Puma vehicles.[47]
Defense News reported that the Indian Army wanted to order Spike missiles and peripheral equipment in a $1 billion deal. Indian Ministry of Defence officials told the magazine that the order is for 321 launchers, 8,356 missiles, 15 training simulators, and peripheral equipment.[48][49][50] In October 2014, India chose to buy the Spike over the U.S. Javelin.[51] India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited will be the systems integrator for the missiles with major work share for manufacture to be handled by Bharat Dynamics and Kalyani Group.[52] On November 20, 2017, it was announced that the deal was cancelled due to lack of transfer of technology. The DRDO has been instructed to produce an indigenous missile.[53][54][55] However, Indian media sources have reported that the contract will proceed as part of a restructured government to government agreement.[56]
The Spike NLOS (Tammuz) was introduced into service in the early 1980s.
In 1997, the Spike MR (Gil), LR (Gomed), ER (Perakh Bar) with associated launchers entered service.[26]
first contract for Italian Army was in 2003[57] for 53.6 million Euros: 53 launchers (21 vehicle launchers and 32 infantry ones) and 510 missile (including 165 MR); second contract in 2009, 120 million Euros: 90 launchers (84 for Italian Army, 6 for Italian Navy) and 990 missile LR, of which 110 for Navy: including 21 launchers for the VTLM Lince, 20 LR launchers and 120 LR missiles for the Dardo IFV, 26 indoor and 37 outdoor training systems (plus another 2 each for the Italian Navy). 36 LR launchers with unknown number LR/ER missiles was inside the 2006's contract for the IVECO 8X8 Freccia. In 2010 Italian Army buys 32 launchers (plus another 16 options) and 800 Spike ER for 63 millions Euro, to update the AW-129 Mangusta combat helicopets, delivered within 2014 (SIPRI 2013). Another order for 175 launchers and 2.002 missiles is being discussed.[58]
Total 12 Spike-LR.[45][59][60] Additional order in February 2018.[61][62][63]
On December 11, 2015 Lithuania decided to buy 88 Boxer armored vehicles armed with Spike-LR missiles.[64]
The decision to replace the M47 Dragon (in use with reconnaissance units) and TOW (in use with mechanized infantry) with the "Gill MRAT"[65] was made in 2001, with deliveries expected in 2002. A total of 297 launchers were purchased along with 2433 missiles. The Koninklijke Landmacht accounted for 237 launchers and 1974 missiles, whilst the Koninklijke Marine acquired 60 launchers and 459 missiles.[66] The first weapon was actually issued in 2004 to the Regiment van Heutsz.[67]
Total 516 Spike-LR missiles, 48 launchers.250 Spike -MR missiles, 64 launchers, 450 Spike ER missiles, 80 launchers.[37]
Spike-ER missiles mounted in Typhoon MLS-ER Weapon Stations on board Multi-purpose Attack Craft (MPAC) Mk. 3,[68] and Spike-NLOS for AW-159 Wildcat naval helicopters[69]The Philippine Navy (PN) is set to test its newly-acquired Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile systems on July 17 to 18 and July 24 to 26 of 2018 off Corregidor Island.[70] Following the successful test-firing of the Rafael Advanced Defense Ltd. Spike-ER missiles (extended range) that are surface-to-surface missiles off Lamao Point, Limay, Bataan last Aug. 9, these weapons are now formally accepted in Philippine Navy (PN) service.[71]
Total 2,675 Spike-LR missiles, 264 launchers.[37] Additional 1,000 Spike-LR missiles on order.[72][73]
Total 20 Spike-MR/LR missiles.[37]
Singapore Airshow 2008, a locally developed twin-tube launcher for the Spike as mounted on a Light Strike Vehicle of the Singapore Army.
Total 1,950 missiles, breakdown being 1,000 Spike-ER with the remaining 950 being Spike-LR. For use on IAR 330 SOCAT attack helicopters and MLI-84M IFVs.[37]
Spike NLOS is being fired from Plasan Sand Cat armored vehicle of Republic of Korea Marine Corps.
In 1999, Singapore became the second country to acquire the Spike ATGM.[74] Total 1,000 Spike-LR missiles, with associated launchers.[37] The Singapore Army also has introduced the Spike-SR as the new generation anti-tank guided missile for its infantry battalions.[75][76]
Spike MR/LR has been in operational use in the Slovenian Armed Forces since 2009.[77] Total 75 missiles. Some will be on Patria AMVs.[citation needed]
 South Korea
A South Korean government deal concluded on 6 September 2011 has confirmed the procurement of unspecified numbers of Spike NLOS, of which about 50 missiles will be forward deployed to the South Korean islands of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong, close to the Northern Limit Line with North Korea.[30][31] On 19 May 2013 the South Korean military confirmed that "dozens" of Spike missiles had been deployed on the islands.[78] The Republic of Korea Navy will also deploy the Spike NLOS on AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat helicopters,[79] and the Republic of Korea Marine Corps has the Spike NLOS mounted on Plasan Sandcat light vehciels.[80]
Total 2,800 missiles, breakdown being 2,600 Spike-LR with remaining 200 being Spike-ER.[37] 236 Spike LR launchers (option for 100 more), 2,360 missiles for Spanish army, 24 Spike LR launchers and 240 missiles for Spanish navy marines. Spike ER on Eurocopter Tiger attack helicopters (Spanish army).[45]
 United Kingdom
Over 600 Spike NLOS missiles purchased by the British Army, in the first order in 2007. 14 M113s equipped with Spike NLOS launchers, under the codename of 'Exactor'. Operated by the British Army during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.[29][45][81][82]


Estonian Defence Forces will likely purchase Spike-LR, Spike-LR II or Spike-ER missiles.[83]
Defense News reported that the Indian Army wanted to order Spike missiles and peripheral equipment in a $1 billion deal. Indian Ministry of Defence officials told the magazine that the order is for 321 launchers, 8,356 missiles, 15 training simulators, and peripheral equipment.[48][49][50] In October 2014, India chose to buy the Spike over the U.S. Javelin.[51] India's state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited will be the systems integrator for the missiles with major work share for manufacture to be handled by Bharat Dynamics and Kalyani Group.[52] On November 20, 2017, it was announced that the deal was cancelled due to lack of transfer of technology. The DRDO has been instructed to produce an indigenous missile.[53][54][55] However, Indian media sources have reported that the contract will proceed as part of a restructured government to government agreement.[56]
Spike-MR is a contender along with Javelin.[84]
In January 1998, a partnership arrangement was announced between Israeli Aerospace Industries and Kamov to market the Kamov Ka-50-2 attack helicopter in Turkish competition. One of the optional armaments being offered for the Ka-50-2 was the Spike-ER missile.[85] Eventually, Ka-50-2 lost to TAI/AgustaWestland T-129. Turkey has also examined the use of Rafael Overhead Weapon Station with Spike for its Otokar Cobra light armored vehicles.[85]
 United Kingdom
In February 2001, the British MoD awarded two contracts valued at $8.8 million for a year-long assessment of the Javelin and Spike-MR. The Spike was being offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems teamed with Matra/BAe Dynamics, while the Javelin was being offered by a team of Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. The UK would like to field a lightweight antitank missile system for its Joint Rapid Reaction Force by 2005. In February 2003, the British MoD selected the Javelin.[85]
 United States
The Spike was offered by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as a possible contender in the US Army JAWS missile program in 1996.[85]

See also[edit]


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