June 19, 2012: Strategy Page
Israel is now exporting its 75mm Mini-Spike lightweight guided missiles. Three years ago an Israeli firm introduced this lighter, smaller guided missile system for Israeli forces. This is the smallest member of the Spike guided missile family, which all share many common components and technologies.
The Mini-Spike was designed for company and platoon size units in need of a lightweight precision attack weapon. Mini-Spike weighs 12 kilograms (26.4 pounds) and is designed for operation by one man. Max range is 1,200 meters. The missile uses a "fire and forget" guidance system. That is, once the operator gets the target in the CLU crosshairs and fires the missile the computer and seeker in the missile warhead memorizes the target and homes in on it. The infantry love this because it allows them to take cover once the missile is fired. The operator can also order the missile fly straight, high or low towards the target. The CLU has night vision and video recording capability and can be used just for surveillance.
Mini-Spike consists of two components. There is an 8 kg (11.6 pound) CLU (Command and Launch Unit), for indicating the target and sending radio signals to the missile. Individual missiles come in firing containers weighing 4 kg (8.8 pounds) loaded. A soldier typically will carry the CLU and two missiles. There is also an optional tripod available. The missile warhead is designed to kill or injure people and destroy structures, not penetrate armor. The operator can deactivate the warhead after launch, to minimize collateral damage.
Mini-Spike is meant to provide a cheaper and smaller (and more portable) alternative to missiles like the U.S. Javelin. Introduced in 2002, Javelin weighs 22.3 kg (49 pounds, with disposable launch tube and battery/seeker coolant unit) and is fired from a 6.4 kg (14 pound) CLU (command launch unit). The CLU contains a 4x day sight and a 9x heat sensing night sight. The missile has a tandem (two warheads to blast through reactive armor) that can hit a target straight on or from the top. This latter capability enables the Javelin to destroy any existing tank (including the U.S. M1) with its 8.2 kg (18 pound) warhead. Maximum range is 2,500 meters. Best of all, the seeker on the missile is "fire and forget." Mini-Spike costs about half what Javelin systems go for and are easier for infantry to carry around. Infantry rarely need a missile as powerful as Javelin. More frequently the demand is for something smaller like Mini-Spike.