The German military have agreed an order for additional Israeli Spike LR (Long Range) 5th generation ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) to equip the German Army as their primary tank-killer ATGM. Israeli firm Rafael has partnered with German companies Diehl Defence and Rheinmetall Electronics in a joint venture under the banner of Eurospike to deliver the systems. All manufacture will be completed domestically in Germany with the order to be completed by 2023.
An additional 1,500 missiles and reportedly 100 of the dismount version of the Integrated Control Launch Unit (ICLU) launchers have been ordered for infantry units and special operations forces. The Bundeswehr currently employs the dismount version (known as MELLS – Mehrrollenfähiges Leichtes Lenkflugkörper-System or Multi-role Light Guided Missile System) and the two-shot mounted variant on Germany’s next generation of IFV
(infantry fighting vehicle), the Puma.
The Spike LR is also slowly replacing legacy Milan 2 platforms mounted on a range of vehicles including the Marder IFV and the TOW system on the diminutive Wiesel in an on-going process since 2009, when 311 launchers were ordered. A total of 19 NATO and EU nations now employ the Spike platform offering much commonality between European ground forces.
“This is a significant contract for Eurospike and thus for Rafael, as a leading supplier of 5th generation ATGM in the world. It will undoubtedly cement the German Army’s position as one of the strongest ATGM forces in Europe. The Spike missile and launcher cross-nation commonality enables the nations to manage joint SPIKE missile stocks, create joint procurement and maintain mutual support. In combination with local production within Europe by Eurospike, Spike is a truly common European missile.”
The Spike offers numerous advantages over the ageing Milan. It can strike targets out to a range of 4,000 meters (double that of the Milan 2), offers both Javelin-like top-attack and beyond-line-of-sight (BLOS) mode allowing it to engage targets behind cover, and is fire and forget; once ‘locked on’ the missile tracks the target, including making adjustments in flight to counter movement.