Accuracy: the best-selling point of weapon systems

Armed forces want more versatility for their accurate missiles that are launched from helicopters – and that calls for more sensors and more warheads.

The trend is a direct result of the types of wars fought nowadays. These are dubbed low-intensity or urban, but have one thing in common: the attacking force cannot afford collateral damage that will wound or kill uninvolved civilians.

Rafael’s Spike family of missiles has broken sales records. The missiles are versatile, and have been recently adapted for launch by helicopters. But this was not enough. Clients want pinpoint accuracy and the lowest collateral damage.

The result: Rafael will add a laser sensor to its advanced Spike NLOS helicopter-launched long-range missile.

According to the Israeli defence company, the new laser homing capability will be demonstrated soon. The current version of the Spike NLOS missile is equipped with a dual charge-coupled device (CCD)/infrared (IR) sensor. This ensures accuracy under most conditions, but as mentioned above, client demands are rising, requiring that collateral damage decrease.

The addition of a laser sensor will enable ground forces or aerial platforms to designate a target that will be hit with super-accuracy seconds later. The Spike NLOS was recently integrated on board an Israeli air force Cobra helicopter.

The warheads were also adapted to the operational demands of the most common type of war in recent years. The Spike NLOS can be armed with at least three types of warheads, which can be used against tanks, armoured vehicles, bunkers and infantry. The missile has a range of 25km (16 miles), and can obtain target data from other airborne platforms.

Notice that the tools of modern war are not only judged by their capability to kill more enemy soldiers but by their super-accuracy. The enemy – and only the enemy – should be hit, even if he chooses to hide in densely populated areas. Laser homing weapons systems have become favourites because they can be directed to small targets with unprecedented accuracy.

So Israeli companies are developing laser technology that enables soldiers to direct a bomb or missile into a building through an open window. What we will see in the near future are more Israeli weapons systems with an extra laser homing sensor in the shape of a laser homing one.

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