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An American Apache wrecks a ship 20 miles away. with the Israeli Spike NLOS missile

Since 2019, the US Army has carried out various assessments of the long-range multi-purpose missile Spike NLOS (Non Line Of Sight) from the Israeli company Rafael. The last test was last month at the Eglin Air Force base in Florida, from which an Army AH-64E helicopter flew and one of those missiles wrecked a ship 20 miles away. Path.

The US Air Force recently reported the characteristics of these tests, in which the 780 Test Squadron participated. In particular, the 96th Test Wing was responsible for planning and conducting the maritime demonstration, which consisted of the launch of the Spike NLOS missile from an Army AH-64E helicopter. The test was organized by the Army Futures Command’s Future Futical Lift Cross Functional Team (the team that will manage the new Army helicopters) and the Combat Capabilites Deelopment Command Aviation and Missile Center.

During the four days that the test lasted, the first modified the helicopter to receive the rocket launcher and radio frequency transmission system for guidance. The second and third days were devoted to performing various pre-launch tests, and the fourth day was the day the missile was fired against a stationary surface target 32 ​​km away. against which it struck. He had planned a launch against another moving target, but weather conditions prevented this.

The purpose of the test

The Army has a program underway to acquire a new Long Range Precision Munition or LRPM to equip their new Future Long Range Assault Aircraft or FLRAA and Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft or FARA. The Spike NLOS will be evaluated as an interim solution pending completion of this program, although it could be one of the final candidates. It’s a missile that multiplies the range of the current hellfire by four, making it possible to use it in a number of different ways.

How the Spike NLOS works

As we analyzed in 2019, a precise guidance system is required in order to be able to deploy this type of missile from such great distances as they are typical for non-line-of-sight (NLOS) combat, since the launcher does not in sight has aim to hit.

The Spike NLOS is the longest-range member (32 km in the latest versions) of the Spike family, has a GPS and inertial guidance system for the middle course in combination with electro-optical guidance (for the final phase) and a communication channel between the aircraft and the rocket that enables the man-in-the-loop terminal to be operated. The rocket weighs 70 kg. and an estimated price between $ 250,000 and $ 330,000 per unit.

The main feature of the missile is that it can be fired at a target from a position far away from the threats (stand-off) without the launcher coming into visual contact with it, with only approximate data of its position being provided by someone. Sensor near the target, e.g. B. an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or the electro-optical surveillance and target acquisition system carried by the helicopter.

Once the missile is fired, it maintains a relatively slow speed of 220 m / s. It stays in flight for up to almost 2 minutes at maximum range, enough time for the missile’s double electro-optical sensor (CCD and IIR) to send the missile images to the shooter via a wireless connection and allow the shooter to target the target during the flight phase capture and optimize the final point of impact, which can be a tank, window, cave entrance, or boat.

The operating pattern of the missile would be as follows: once fired, it rises to an altitude where the camera has a good view of the area where the target is believed to be and is automatically aimed at that area using the system . GPS navigation; The missile moves in a controlled manner in the direction of this area and once the positive identification of the target is made it is guided precisely to the target.

In fact, the missile can be used as a kind of reconnaissance UAV while in flight, as the gunner can move the camera in search of targets or information without losing the target, as it automatically turns towards it when a button is pressed. In the final stages, autonomous guidance can be used or the gunner can precisely aim the missile if there is a possibility of causing collateral damage or if the impact must be abandoned for good.

The Spike NLOS is in service with the Israel Defense Forces on a variety of platforms, including their Apache attack helicopters, a combo that was released in 2017. The Colombian Air Force also uses them from their Arpa IV helicopters from BlackHawk and Korea. The South chose it to equip their AW159 Wildcat naval helicopters. The integration of this weapon into the Greek Apache and Black Hawk helicopters was recently announced. (Jos M Navarro Garca)

Photo: Apache helicopter with Spike NLOS missiles and control system module on the right wing (USAF)

A pre-test of the Spike NLOS on a US Apache helicopter (US Army)

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