Israeli arms developer Rafael has disclosed the existence of a new version of its Spike missile, with more than three times the range of previous variants.
Like its predecessors, the Spike non-line of sight (NLOS) missile can be fired by helicopters, ground vehicles and ships, and is guided to its target by a combination of a charge-coupled device and infrared seeker.
Previous variants have ranges from 200m (655ft) to 8km (4.3nm), but the Spike NLOS can hit targets up to 25km away, a Rafael executive says.
The Spike NLOS is already operational with a military customer, which is most likely to be the Israeli defence forces. Rafael is also offering the weapon for export, starting with the Spike family's existing 18 customers.
The NLOS weapon achieves its range mostly by increasing the size of the motor, with overall weight also increasing to 70kg (155lb). The next-largest variant, the Spike ER, weighs 34kg.
Rafael says the diameter of the NLOS missile has also changed, but declines to elaborate. The design is also offered with a variety of single warheads, but the types have not been disclosed.
The new weapon can be fired from helicopters. Previous versions of the Spike have been integrated on the Eurocopter Puma and Tiger by Slovenia and Spain respectively. Fixed-wing aircraft are not being considered as firing platforms for any member of the Spike family, Rafael says.
Details of the Spike NLOS have emerged even as the US Army has struggled to develop a similarly long-range weapon. The Lockheed Martin Joint Common Missile was expected to strike targets up to 29.6km away when fired from helicopters, but was cancelled in 2006. The Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) remains in competition, and is not expected to be fielded until 2016.
Unlike the Spike family, the US Army wants the JAGM to have the ability to strike moving targets in all weather, which requires a tri-mode seeker with millimetre-wave radar for terminal guidance.
Rafael has designed the Spike's on-board camera with the ability to strike targets in most weather conditions by day and night.
Source: Flight International