Page 28 - Australian Defence Magazine - July 2018
P. 28

The newset Spike variant in the LR2 will see service on the Boxer in Australia.
generation (the ultra-long range Spike NLOS/Non-Line-of-Sight) entered service with the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in the early 1980s following lessons learnt in the Yom Kippur war.
Since then Rafael has supplied 30,000 Spike missiles and systems in short, medium and long-range variants to 29 countries, with steadily-enhanced capabilities drawing on decades of operational and training use. The 30,000th missile was fired in mid-May.
The new generation Spike LR2 has evolved from the 4,000-metre range Spike LR and can be fired from vehicles, helicop- ters, ships, and ground launchers. This latest variant is now entering service with the IDF and is reliably reported to have been ordered by Latvia to equip its tracked CVRs, mak- ing Australia the second export customer.
The Spike LR2 includes a tandem high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead which enhances its armour penetration ability by more than 30 per cent over the previous generation. The warhead consists of two shaped charges – a precursor war- head to detonate any explosive reactive ar- mour and a primary warhead to penetrate the underlying armour.
The tandem warhead can also be used against standard wall structures, with de- layed detonation ensuring the warhead ex- plodes within the structure.
The missile is also available with a power- ful multipurpose blast warhead with select- able fuze options that can be used against ships and bunkers, breaching 20 cm of rein- forced concrete. It can also be used with an airburst effect against soft-skinned vehicles and personnel in open terrain.
Weighing 12.7 kg, Spike LR2 has lock- on-before-launch capability but retains a fibre-optic data link for man-in-the-loop control. It features a range of 5.5 km when fired from ground launchers – an increase of more than 35 per cent on Spike LR – and
up to 10 km when fired from a helicopter and using a radio frequency data link.
The increase in range has been largely achieved by fitting a new multiband elec- tro-optical seeker that includes an uncooled infrared (IR) sensor instead of a cooled unit requiring an internal gas cylinder, and a new high definition light-emitting diode colour day sensor.
The seeker includes a multispectral target tracker with artificial intelligence features enabling it to simultaneously track a target with its two sensors, enabling data from both to be fused to obtain a robust target lock-on in obscured battlefield environments.
In addition the seeker’s design enables ‘sensor hotswap capability’ – swapping be- tween sensors in mid-flight to provide a dif- ferent target image depending on prevailing conditions or target behaviour.
Rafael says that the missile’s design takes into account the low signature, time-sensi- tive characteristics, advanced armour and protection systems of modern targets.
To counter such challenges the Spike LR2 includes an embedded Inertial Mea- surement Unit (IMU) for missions using third party target acquisition. This allows the missile to be fired to grid target coordi- nates even when the launching platform has no visual identification of the target.
A further advantage is its ability to hit tar- gets at an angle of up to 70 degrees, allowing a more lethal top attack profile that would largely avoid active protection systems.
Although no details are yet known of the Australian LR2 order or missile quanti- ties, initial deliveries to establish training regimes could be expected soon after Boxer deliveries begin in 2020.
Such early deliveries would presumably arrive from Israel rather than from the proposed Rafael-Varley joint venture – VRA Systems – which will be established north of Newcastle and is set to be the first manufacturer of the Spike LR2 system outside Israel.
Rafael has undertaken to transfer the nec- essary Intellectual Property and production skills to the partnership to ensure Austra- lia not only has total operational indepen- dence in its use of Rafael’s technologies, but will also become part of Rafael’s global sup- ply chain for Spike and other systems.
Unconfirmed reports put the cost of a Spike LR at around US$125,000, with the Spike LR2 said to be more expensive. Whether or not total or partial local manu- facture of relatively small missile numbers will cut costs or involve a price premium at this time is anyone’s guess.
And what of the MMP alternative – unsuc- cessful for Land 400 Phase 2, but not neces- sarily so for Phase 3 and Land 4108?
In 2005 France’s Direction generale de l’armement (DGA) began its search to replace the French Army’s ageing
28 | July 2018 |
“Although no details are yet known of
the Australian LR2 order or missile quantities, initial deliveries to establish training regimes could be expected soon after Boxer deliveries begin in 2020.”

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