Tank Killer: How Good Is Israel's Spike Missile Really?

Charlie Gao

Key point: The U.S. Army is considering buying the Spike missile, but wants to conduct a lot of tests first.

Although Israel’s Spike missile has achieved great success in both its domestic and export markets, some media outlets question how effective the missile really is. There are a variety of claims made in this article, so it’s worth dissecting into individual points.

The first criticism of the Spike missile is of the LR variant. The article claims that during German tests, the LR missile suffers target confusion if there were multiple heat generating targets in the same region. It asserts that the seeker loses sight to the target at a certain point during its pop up attack, and then when it reacquires a target, it might not be the same target as originally locked.

The assertion that the seeker loses sight to the target during a normal top-attack flight profile is questionable. In a video taken from the Spanish Army training with the Spike-LR, one can see that the seeker maintains constant sight of the target from launch to impact.

While the video could be shot at close range, the principle of conservation of energy would dictate that the popup height (and thus possible seeker offset angle) would only be lower for longer range shots. The symbology in the footage further supports this. “Alta” meaning “high” in Spanish is displayed in the bottom right, which indicates that the Spike is in top attack mode and would follow a high attack profile with a large seeker offset angle.

Read the original article.