The U.S. Army has tested the Israeli Spike non-line-of-sight (NLOS) air-to-ground missile (AGM) from an AH-64E Apache helicopter at the Yuma Proving Ground (YPG) in Arizona in late August.
The test was first in what is likely to be many tests related to the Army Futures Command’s Future Vertical Lift (FVL) Cross Functional Team (CFT), which seeks to develop the next generation of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft for the service.
Spike is a currently-fielded Israeli weapon with approximately four times as much range as the AGM-114 Hellfire or AGM-179 Joint Air-to-Ground Missile (JAGM) currently used by/being developed for the American forces.
“The missile we are firing gives the opportunity for the Army to have more reach, more standoff, more lethality that it has had in the past to address our near-peer threats,” said Col. Matthew Isaacson, Future Vertical Lift CFT lead. “We use these demonstrations to inform our requirements and to ensure that we’re not writing a requirement for something that is unrealistic.”
The family of SPIKE NLOS missiles have been utilized by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for several decades. Featuring manual and automatic modes, it achieves optimal range in automatic, but can be successfully utilized in degraded navigation environments while being manually-guided.
For the first demonstration, the testers fired the Spike from an AH-64E Apache helicopter hovering 200 feet above the highest obstacle in a complex terrain environment at a mock-up of a SA-15 vehicle 28.5 kilometers away. A key part of the demonstration involved intentionally losing the guidance data-link to the missile just prior to impact to determine whether it would still strike its target (and it did so in a fiery explosion).
Among the bevy of officials who travelled to YPG to witness the test were the Honorable James McPherson, the senior official performing the duties of Undersecretary of the Army, and Gen. John Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command. Murray is the first four star general to visit the proving ground since then-Vice Chief of the Army Gen. Peter Chiarelli came to observe a test of the Precision Guidance Kit artillery fuse in 2011.