JERUSALEM — Slovakia has chosen Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Spike LR II missile for its infantry and military vehicles in a contract worth tens of millions of euros, the Israeli company announced March 5.
Slovakia will now become the sixth country to use the fifth-generation weapon, and the third NATO member to do so. The company says that 34 countries use the Spike family of missiles.
Germany and Latvia both use SPIKE LR II missiles, and sales of the weapon are beginning to reach in the thousands, according to Rafael, which attributes the sales to the missile’s easy integration for existing users of the original Spike LR.
The Spike LR II was sold to Slovankia as part of the Eurospike program, a joint venture between Rafael, Diehl Defense and Rheinmetall Electronics. NATO’s Support and Procurement Agency is conducting the purchase, according to a Rafael spokesman. The deal between Rafael and the Slovak Ministry of Defence also includes dismounted advanced integrated control launch units.
Slovakia conducted field testing of the Spike missile over the last two years with remote control weapon stations on Patria vehicles.
“This procurement by Slovakia follows past contracts of SPIKE Missile by Germany, Baltic States Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as many other European countries, which has created common ATGM [anti-tank guided missile] capabilities within Europe, serving interoperability and potentially future cross-nation mutual support,” Eurospike Managing Director Wolfgang Herrnberger said.
Gal Papier, head of marketing and business development for precision tactical weapons systems in Rafael’s Land and Naval divisions, says the missile’s 5.5-kilometer range is the farthest in its category and gives users the ability to not only fire and forget but also use a data link for third-party target allocation, meaning a UAV or others can supply coordinates without line-of-sight.
“That may sound simple, but it’s a unique advantage to work with other forces and effectors and sensors,” Papier said. He also said the missile offers “man-in-the-loop features, such as re-targeting midflight, attack of hidden targets beyond line–of-sight, as well as the ability to launch to non-line-of-sight targets based solely on their geo-coordinates.”
There are about 33,000 Spike missiles in use around the world, and 6,000 have been fired in combat and training, according to Rafael.
The company has been making other inroads on the European continent with its “glass battlefield” project in Germany. This is part of a series of increasing Israel defense industry contracts in Europe over the last year that have included UAVs, radar and other systems.
Rafael is also marketing the Spike LR II to its existing Spike users in Latin America.
Seth J. Frantzman is the Israel correspondent for Defense News. He has covered conflict in the Mideast since 2010 for different publications. He has experience covering the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is a co-founder and executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.