The Israeli defense firm Rafael teamed up with the U.S. Army to evaluate one of their SPIKE anti-armor missiles. The test, which Rafael called a “demonstration” showcased their smallest and shortest-range SPIKE SR, or Short Range missile. The lightweight missile and launcher system weighs just 10 kilos, or about 22 pounds, and can hit targets as close as 50 meters, or as far away as 2,000 meters, a little more than a mile.
Rafael conducted the live-fire event as a part of the Army’s Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment 2021, an advanced tech assessment that the Army hopes will help increase soldier lethality via incorporating modernized weapon systems.
Rafael characterized the SPIKE SR missile “as a precision munition system for infantry squads, for which portability and simplicity of operation is essential. AEWE also assessed the system for its ability to allow close-combat formations to dominate the operational environment and handle new threats in a near-peer conflict.”
The test took place in Georgia and marked the first time the SPIKE SR had been tested in the United States.
One Popular Missile
Rafael’s SPIKE family of anti-tank guided missiles have proven to be extremely popular, in service with 35 countries worldwide, according to the company. Since its introduction in the early 1980s, the SPIKE family has continuously been improved and diversified. In addition to the SPIKE SR, or Short Range version recently tested by the Army, Rafael also offers Medium Range, Long Range, Extended Range, and Non-Line of Sight variants, the last of which offers a range of over 15 miles.
Though the United States currently fields a range of guided anti-tank missiles such as the Javelin, Tow, and MAAWS, these weapon systems are either significantly heavier than the SPIKE SR, or have a significantly lower range, or both. Rafael’s touts their SPIKE SR missile as a crucial part of infantryman equipment that would significantly augment firepower at the squad level. In particular, the SR’s features, “including its ease of use, allow lower echelon infantry to rapidly qualify and sustain a high level of operation with minimal training.”
One Powerful Tank-Killer
U.S. Army evaluators fired SPIKE SR missiles at both static and moving vehicle targets. A video of the evaluation can be seen above and is well worth the watch.
It’s not the first time the Army has evaluated and purchased Rafael missile technology. Early last year, the Army purchased a number of Rafael’s Non-Line of Sight missiles, the company’s longest-range anti-tank missile as a stop-gap measure to give the branch’s attack helicopters greater standoff firepower.
Though the U.S. Army has not yet committed to purchasing any SPIKE SR missiles, with this latest positive assessment combined with the weight and range benefits the Israeli missile offers, the odds look good.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.