The armed forces are facing new security challenges. Multinational missions, asymmetric conflicts as well as the potential risk of terrorist attacks threaten security and pose new requirements for equipment, technology and logistics of armed forces.
Military procurement authorities and armed forces must be able to rely on defence contractors fulfilling requirements and expectations regarding task-oriented equipment within the agreed time and cost frames. The duty of care for military personnel necessitates providing armed forces with the best equipment available for their dangerous missions.
Defence business is caught between constrained procurement budgets, small program quantities, fragmented defence markets as well as stringent requirements regarding the technical performance of military hardware. In this challenging environment, Diehl Defence is, apart from its own development programs, pursuing the enlargement of its product portfolio by cooperating with international partners.
Featuring as stand-off weapons, guided missiles´ data link capabilities are indispensable for armed forces. In armies they are employed by the infantry, special forces as well as the artillery. Missile developments in Europe are mostly conducted within international cooperation programs (IRIS-T serving as an example). EuroSpike GmbH, a joint venture of the shareholders Diehl Defence, Rafael and Rheinmetall, practices a different kind of procurement. The program company markets the Israeli Spike guided missile family in Europe. A work share agreement ensures realization of large production portions in Germany, An additional objective is the joint refinement of the product line.
Spike guided missile family: Added value for the user
The missile family currently comprises Spike SR (Short-Range), Spike MR (Medium-Range), Spike LR (Long-Range), Spike ER (Enhanced Range) and Spike NLOS (Non-Line-of-Sight) covering ranges from 2 to 30 km. Under procurement aspects, the Spike family offers several advantages:
The public purchaser saves considerable expenses in missile development and testing by utilizing full-fledged, qualified products. Moreover, manufacturing and material costs are reduced by multiple application of identical technologies and components. These include among others sensors, electronic and mechanical sections as well as the warhead, the launching canister and the fiber-optic or RF data link. The public purchaser can dispense with costly new developments and ensure more favorable conditions in the acquisition process.
Further advantages are generated by a standardized operation concept in training programs facilitating instruction with regard to different equipment.
Moreover, the knowledge and experience gained during qualification of the first Spike missiles reduces the qualification and approval efforts with successor models.
Furthermore the Spike missile family´s identical design allows employment of a so-called generic launcher. It can accommodate a mixed load of Spike LR, Spike ER and Spike NLOS missiles covering ranges from 4 to 8 to 30 km. For air-to-surface missions, the generic launcher provides the helicopter pilot an option of selecting the suitable missile depending on mission scenarios and target surface.
Finally the prevalence of guided Spike missiles in Europe enhances weapon standardization among NATO partners thereby facilitating mutual logistical support in combat. The emerging cost saving potential becomes apparent particularly in spare parts supply, maintenance and repair.
Successful German-Israeli cooperation provided the Bundeswehr access to available, combat-proven products, whose development would otherwise require considerable national funds. The Spike missile types LR, SR and NLOS serve as examples.
Spike LR: Standard armament in European armed forces
The multi-role, light Spike LR guided missile was introduced in Germany in 2009. It is operative or being procured in numerous European armed forces. It outfits infantry and special forces and is also planned as armament for the PUMA infantry armored fighting vehicle. Spike enables precise engagement of armored and unarmored vehicles as well as helicopters, bunkers, mortar and artillery sites at distances of up to 4,000 meters.
The fiber-optic data link provides the operator with the option of correcting the trajectory, changing the target and – if necessary – mission abort. Military personnel and the armored vehicle enjoy optimum protection, because Spike LR can be fired from covert positions and closed spaces.
Diehl´s work shares in the Spike LR program comprises the missile´s “intelligence” encompassing the imaging seeker as well as the guidance and control sections, energy supply, launch canister and final integration.
Spike SR: Flexibility for infantry operations
The product family is rounded off by Rafael´s Spike SR fire-and-forget missile. Achieving variable ranges between 50 and 2,000 meters, it meets the Bundeswehr´s requirements regarding the functional capability demand “Light Effector 1,800 meters plus”. Modern technologies are applied with regard to sensors, propulsion, guidance, monitoring and operation. The man-pad weapon is operative within six seconds weighing merely 10 kg.
Spike SR´s performance during the demonstration firings in the Negev Desert at the end of 2015 convinced representatives of agencies and command authorities. At this occasion, Spike SR, fired in infrared mode, scored direct hits against four different target scenarios at varying distances.
Spike NLOS: Direct hits at 30 km
In 2013, Diehl Defence and Rafael signed an agreement covering cooperation on the Spike NLOS guided missile for infantry and artillery forces. Spike NLOS possesses Radio Frequency (RF) guidance as well as sophisticated sensor technology and can be delivered with different warheads. The guided missile can be fired from land vehicles as well as helicopters and vessels. It is capable of pin-point engagement of stationary and moving targets at ranges of up to 30 km under all weather conditions.
During non-line-of-sight target engagement at long distances, Rafael´s combat-proven troopers assistance system Matchpoint is capable of playing out its advantages. Matchpoint software (applicable in Spike LR and ER) permits higher precision as well as quicker target detection and engagement based on sensor-, guidance and image correlation technology. Spike NLOS is a full-fledged, qualified product, which the Bundeswehr could procure inexpensively.
Promising approaches of missile family concepts
International cooperation programs and the implementation of modular missile family concepts provide promising approaches to mitigate the trade-off between constrained procure budgets with small batch numbers and costly product development based on tough performance requirements for military hardware. The multiple-application Spike missile family, procured by numerous armed forces, offers both the user and manufacturer considerable cost benefits concerning material purchase and production, spare parts supply, maintenance and documentation as well as training and cumbersome qualification and approval procedures.
This win-win situation highlights solutions for cooperative relationships between customers and manufacturers which could be exemplary for other projects as well.