WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is evaluating Israeli defense company Rafael’s shoulder-launched, short-range version of its Spike missile and demonstrated the capability at the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment 2021 earlier this month, according to a company statement.
“This assessment was the first live-fire demonstration of SPIKE SR on US soil,” the statement said.
The experiment was set up to look at advanced technologies that could feed into Army modernization efforts, to include its top priorities.
Rafael’s Spike SR is a portable, electro-optical, anti-tank guided missile. It fits into a family of anti-tank guided missiles, including a long-range version and a non-line-of-sight version.
The U.S. Army has purchased an interim set of Spike NLOS missiles for its aviation fleet to urgently bring a precision-guided munition capability to formations.
Spike SR is light, weighing in at roughly 22 pounds and has a range of 2,000 meters (a little more than a mile), which Rafael said increases lethality at the individual squad level.
The exercise assessed Spike SR’s portability and simplicity as well as how it could allows close-combat formations to “dominate the operational environment and handle new threats in a near-peer conflict,” the statement read.
The Army tested the Spike SR on both stationary and moving targets in daytime and infrared modes to overcome such issues like obscurants on the battlefield preventing good view on targets, according to the statement.
“US Army evaluators provided positive feedback on the system’s light weight, lethality and ease of use compared to what is currently in use by the US Army,” the statement noted.
The demonstration, which was attended by representatives from Army Futures Command, the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the acquisition community, also included Rafael systems’ Fire Weaver, a sensor-to-shooter system, and BNET, its broadband IP software-defined radio.
“These systems, combined with Spike SR, can provide tactical overmatch by enabling high maneuverability and lethality,” the statement said.
In December, Rafael demonstrated its Spike Long-Range weapon in Slovenia. The Slovenian Armed Forces fired the Spike LR from the Kongsberg-made Protector remote weapon station mounted on the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle platform.
“The demo displayed the enhanced capabilities of the Spike launcher, as a force multiplier for the mobilized land forces, enabling precision strike against armored targets with improved precision at extended range and beyond-line-of-sight,” a recent statement noted.
Slovenian forces also fired the Spike weapon from the new, dismounted digital Spike launcher ICLU.
The Spike launcher integrated with Kongsberg’s remote weapon station “includes a provision” for an upgraded Spike LR, a fifth-generation, multipurpose missile with a 3.4-mile reach, among other improvements.
Slovenia is buying 38 Oshkosh Defense-manufactured JLTVs. The government signed a letter of offer and acceptance in October 2018 and will begin receiving those vehicles soon. Those JLTVs will be equipped with the Protector system.
While the U.S. Army has yet to buy Spike missiles, aside from the urgent fielding to the aviation fleet, it is known the service is looking at the range of Spike missiles to achieve other capabilities within the force.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.