A test launch of three Rafael Spike ER multi-purpose air-to-surface missiles from an Israeli air force helicopter on 19 September completed the Indian air force's evaluation of the candidates hoping to equip some of its helicopters.

Performed at the Shedma test range in southern Israel, the firings were successful, according to a source.

With a maximum range of 8km (4.3nm), the electro-optically-guided Spike ER is available with a variety of warhead options designed to destroy tanks with special armour and other reinforced targets.

The relatively slow velocity of the weapon and its use of a fibreoptic data link allows "pinpoint" accuracy, even in adverse weather conditions and at night, Rafael said.

Rafael Spike ER
 © Rafael

The Israeli company faces competition from European rival MBDA Deutschland, which is promoting its PARS 3 missile.

Armed with a tandem warhead, the "fire and forget" weapon is capable of engaging targets to a range of around 7km.

A German army Eurocopter Tiger was used to fire three of the missiles at the Vidsel test range in Sweden in April 2011, with each weapon striking its intended target.

The Indian army is seeking to arm some of its Hindustan Aeronautics Dhruv advanced light helicopters with the selected weapon.

It could potentially also be integrated with the Kamov Ka-52 or Mil Mi-28, if either of these are selected for the service's future attack helicopter requirement.

Source: Flight International