Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has partnered with Lockheed Martin to develop, support, and market the SPICE, a JDAM-like bolt-on precision guidance kit. Standing for Smart, Precise Impact, Cost-Effective—a somewhat labored acronym if ever there was one—it is nonetheless a highly effective weapons kit.
SPICE, like JDAM, is a nose/tail kit for regular iron bombs. However, SPICE differs from the American JDAM or Paveway bomb kits. Where the American PGM kits are either GPS/INS or laser guided, SPICE couples a GPS/INS guidance mode with a Electro-Optical seeker like the GBU-15 or Maverick missile. This gives the SPICE significant target discrimination capabilities that laser guided or GPS guided weapons lack.
There are several flavors of SPICE. The SPICE 250 is a close analogue to the existing Small Diameter Bomb II. Both are low weight—250lbs—glide bombs with electro-optical seekers and GPS backups, carried on a quadruple stores rack. SPICE 1000 and 2000 differ from existing American designed weapons however. The twin larger bomb kits, in incorporating an EO seeker, have a capability that no American guided bomb currently posesses. Both the 1000 and 2000 variants also incorporate glide kits, with the 1000 having pop-out wings a la JSOW. This gives the heavy bombs a significantly extended range over the strakes and tail control fins of JDAM and Paveway. Currently, it appears that the partnership only covers SPICE 1000 and 2000.
The EO seeker of SPICE allows for precise targeting in GPS denied environments, a growing concern as the DoD looks at possible conflicts with other major global powers. The glide range also gives the launching aircraft greater survivability by allowing it to sit outside the range of opponent IADS. Speaking to Breaking Defense, Rafael executive Gideon Weiss said “Now the Americans use the high-end weapons systems like the AGM-158 air launched cruise missile, and the low-end systems, like the Paveway LGB bombs — these require a laser designator to illuminate the target. In the gap between those two types of weapon systems, the SPICE is a very good solution”.
Partnering with Lockheed means that SPICE will open up the US market to the Israeli weapons manufacturer. Incorporation with Israeli F-35Is was already planned, and SPICE has served with IAF F-16s for years, but now the SPICE may become available to baseline F-35. “SPICE offers the U.S. Department of Defense and many allies a capability that no other weapon currently in inventory provides” Lockheed vice president of missiles and fire control John Varley said.