Spike (missile)

Spike is an Israeli fourth generation man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile and anti-personnel missile with a tandem-charged HEAT warhead, developed and designed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and in service with a number of nations.

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; the operator tracking the target, or switching to another target, optically through the trailing fiber-optic wire while the missile is climbing to altitude after launch. This is similar to the lofted trajectory flight profile of the US FGM-148 Javelin.

Spike (missile)
Class Missile
Type Surface to Surface
Manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Origin Israel
Country Name Origin Year
Israel 1981
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Belgium View
Chile View
Colombia View
Croatia View
Ecuador View
Finland View
Germany View
India View
Israel 1981 View
Italy View
Latvia View
Netherlands View
Peru View
Poland View
Portugal View
Romania View
Singapore View
Slovenia View
South Korea View
Spain View
United Kingdom - UK (Great Britain) View
Czech Republic View
Azerbaijan View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Rafael Advanced Defense Systems View
Diehl BGT Defence View
Rheinmetall View

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 medium, 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 – 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 kilograms (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. Both Israel and the United States have experimented with arming Black Hawk helicopters with the Spike missile; the US variant is called UH-60M Battlehawk.

Type Anti-tank missile
Place of origin Israel
Service history
In service 1981–present (Spike NLOS)
Used by See Operators
Wars 1982 Lebanon War, Second Intifada, Iraq War, 2006 Lebanon War, War in Afghanistan (2001–present),Gaza War, 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict
Production history
Designed Late 1970s (Spike NLOS)
Manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems
Diehl BGT Defence (Now part of Rheinmetall Defence Electronics)
Produced Early 1980s – present (Spike NLOS)
Variants See versions
Weight Spike-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:
• 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)
Length 1,670 mm (5 ft 6 in) (Missile w/launcher)
Diameter 170 mm (6.7 in) (Missile w/launcher)
Rate of fire Ready to launch in 30 seconds, reload in 15 seconds
Effective firing range 800m (Spike-SR) 2,500m (Spike-MR) 4,000m (Spike-LR) 25,000m (Spike NLOS)
Sights 10× optical sight
Warhead Tandem-charge HEATwarhead
Engine Solid-fuel rocket
Infrared homing – Electro Optical (CCD, IR or Dual CCD/IIR), Passive CCD or dual CCD/IIR seeker

End notes