JERUSALEM — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has joined Poland’s Ottokar-Brzoza tank-destroyer program, offering its line of anti-tank guided missiles for the country’s ground forces.
Rafael would co-produce the weapons with Polish conglomerate Polish Armaments Group. The Israeli company unveiled a new multi-missile launcher laid out in a configuration of eight Spike non-line-of-sight missiles, which Poland could incorporate onto its BWP-1, a 1960s Soviet-era tracked armored vehicle, or its KTO Rosomak, a Polish variant of the Patria eight-wheel drive armored vehicle. Poland has hundreds of these vehicles in different variants, and wants to replace some aging ones for its anti-tank regiments.
Poland launched the competition to be prepared to confront a major threat, such as a mass amount of armored vehicles. The tender is potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars if the country outfits a large number of its vehicles with launchers.
Rafael’s NLOS launcher has a standoff range of 32 kilometers and is part of the company’s Spike family of weapons, which is on more than 45 different platforms globally, according to the company.
Mounted on a fixed rail, the launcher’s operator inside a vehicle uses a target consul and coordinates from a target bank or forward observer, such as a UAV. The missiles have a unique data link and do not need GPS to fly to their target. The passive surprise element of the missile (it does not use laser designators) makes it less likely the enemy will see the volley coming.
Other missiles, such as the MBDA Brimstone and Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire, are also reportedly under consideration, and a variety of vehicle concepts with these weapons are available. These may include a launch station by Wojskowe Zakłady Motoryzacyjne; a chassis by OBRUM; a K9P chassis by Huta Stalowa Wola; the Borsuk tracked future armored vehicle; AMZ-Kutno’s Bobr-3 vehicle; or Rheinmetall Defence’s armored multipurpose vehicles.
Other Spike variants are already used by Poland, including the Spike LR and LR2. A 2015 order from Poland for 1,000 Spike missiles was estimated to be worth $150 million, and an earlier one in 2002 that was reportedly for thousands of missiles was worth about $250 million. The missile type is already produced in Poland by Mesko, which Rafael says provides an existing infrastructure “for the future Polish production of the SPIKE NLOS missile as well as the launchers.”
“As part of the its general vision and particularly now at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a dramatic effect on all industries and economies, Rafael is continuously working to leverage industrial cooperation by contributing and operating with local industries,” the company said.
Poland wants to make a qualitative leap in tank-destroyer units, according to local reports, to put a stop to a potential invasion. This would likely require the country to buy the latest generation of armored vehicles, including those with active defense capabilities.
Seth Frantzman has been covering conflict in the Middle East since 2010 as a researcher, analyst and correspondent for different publications. In recent years he has focused on the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, and he is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis.