Despite the rapid changes in land battle warfare, modern and effective anti-tank weapons remain the most crucial element of operations against armored vehicles.
There are different types of anti tank weapons, depending of their sizes. Some are shoulder-launched weapons that can be hold by one soldier while some others are larger tripod-mounted weapons that need a full team to be launched. Finally, anti-tank weapons can also be vehicle and aircraft-launched missile systems.
The market of armored vehicles knows an impressive extension, with continuous improvement of firepower, protection, and mobility of tanks. As a response, we can observe the development of stockpiles of anti-tank weapons.
The SPIKE family, developed by Rafael Advances Defense Systems, is composed of IR-guided anti-tank guided missiles (i) the 2,500m range SPIKE-MR, (ii) the 4,000m range SPIKE-LR, and (iii) the 8,000m range SPIKE-ER variants. The SPIKE-LR system can be fired from confined spaces and possesses a tandem warhead to defeat targets equipped with active protection systems or explosive reactive armor. The SPIKE-LR and SPIKE-ER still have the SPIKE-MR’s fire-and-forget capability, but offer the advantage of the fire, observe and update operating mode.
In order to provide SPIKE family to European clients, the joint venture company EuroSpike was founded by the companies Rafael, Rheinmetall Defence Electronics and Diehl BGT Defence. Poland has been its main customer with massive orders and the intention to integrate them on the Oto Melara HITFIST 30 turret mounted on Patria’s Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV). In 2005, the company Sagem Défense Sécurité has demonstrated the SPIKE-LR integration with the SPERWER UAS making it the first example of combination of a UAS with weapons. In the same manner, the German Army’s PUMA AIFV will be equipped with the turret-mounted SPIKE-LR missile launcher carrying two missiles, in order to not only combat armored vehicles but also be able to react to enemy firing positions, low-flying helicopters, and aiming infrastructure targets. More recently, Rafael’s 5th Generation Long-Range Missile (5.5 km) – SPIKE-LR2 – has been chosen as the anti-tank guided weapon for the Australian Defence Force’s boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle. It will be delivered by a joint venture between Rafael and the Varley Group.
The evolution of anti-tank weapons is pointing to the development of new-generation weapons being dual-purpose systems (anti-armor/bunker buster) and which can be launched from enclosed spaces. This ability turns out to be not only essential for combat, to protect firing positions, but also in urban warfare.