Spike is a fire-and-forget anti-tank missile developed by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.
The missiles have a lock-on before launch system and an automatic self-guidance system. They are also equipped with an imaging infrared seeker and a heat chasing technology.
“Fire-and-forget” means that Spike missiles can engage and destroy targets within the line-of-sight of the launcher. In addition, the long and extended range versions of the Spike missile have a “fire, observe and update” guidance method (also known as Lock-on after launch (LOAL)), enabling the operator to track or switch targets, through trailing fiber-optic wire spooled out between the launch position and the missile, while the missile is climbing to altitude after launch. Consequently, the missile can be fired either for a target of opportunity, or to provide observation on the other side of an obstacle.
In addition, Spike missiles have a tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, consisting of: a precursor warhead and a primary warhead. The precursor warhead enables to detonate any explosive reactive armor while the primary warhead allows penetrating the underlying armor.
The different versions of the Spike missiles have various launch capabilities. They can be operated either by infantry or from mounts that can be fitted to vehicles (which enables vehicles that are usually not fitted with anti-tank weapons to be given anti-tank capability), or to helicopters. Also, the missiles have a soft launch capability allowing the missile to be fired from confined spaces.
Spike missiles are currently in their fourth-generation. Several versions of the missiles exist:
- Spike-SR: the short-range version of the missile. It has a minimum range of 50 m (160 ft) and a maximum range of 1.5 km (0.93 mi). Spike-SR is designed for infantry.
- Spike-MR: the medium-range version of the missile. It has a minimum range of 200 m (660 ft) and a maximum range of 2.5 km (1.55 mi). Spike-SR is designed for infantry and Special Forces.
- Spike-LR: the long-range version of the missile. It has a maximum range of 4 km (2.50 mi). Spike-LR is designed for infantry and Light Combat Vehicles.
- Spike-ER: the extra-long range version of the missile. It has a minimum range of 400 m (1310 ft) and a maximum range of 8 km (5 mi). Spike-ER is designed for infantry, Light Combat Vehicles and helicopters.
- Spike-NLOS (“Non Line Of Sight”): the ultra-long range version of the missile, which has a maximum range of 25 km (16 mi).