IDF to Adapt Spike Missile to Urban Warfare

Amid steps to boost the IDF's efficiency being led by the Ground Forces commander, a senior officer said the IDF will adapt the Spike missile to current threats. "We will develop a version that is more suitable to urban warfare," the officer told Israel Defense

A test of the Spike missile system. Archive photo: Rafael

Following the publication by Israel Defense of an article about the financial and operational efficiency measures being led by Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, commander of IDF ground forces, regarding the Spike missile system, a senior IDF officer commented on the changes. The officer confirmed the report but said the objective of the steps is to strengthen the soldiers of combat battalions by adapting the system for urban warfare. "We want to provide them with better tools," the officer said in an interview with Israel Defense.

The missile system is central to the IDF, and is expected to remain so in the coming years. However, the IDF understands that the threats are changing and now includes greater emphasis on urban warfare in fighting columns of Syrian, Egyptian or Iraqi armor. "The balance between the need for the anti-tank Spike missile and the need for it as a solution for urban warfare (against light vehicles, people or buildings) has changed. We are working together with Rafael to develop a more suitable and inexpensive version of the missile for this purpose," the officer said.  

The IDF is not planning to scrap its existing missile systems but rather convert them and purchase new, more inexpensive versions. All in all, the IDF has a limited budget and a need for a large amount of precision weaponry for battalions. The question is how many weapons, and what type, can be brought in using the budget. "The reduction of the cost of the missile will be significant," the IDF said, without specifying to what percent the cost will be reduced. "We calculate every shekel in planning the acquisition of weaponry. Those who do the planning are engineers who are all former infantrymen. The combination of engineering knowledge and understanding of the operational need enables us to supply weapons that are both effective and have a suitable price."

Influence on the Cost of War

The changes in the Spike system are connected to the wider process being carried out by the IDF chief of staff, Lieut. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, and Maj. Gen. Strick to strengthen the infantry battalions as part of the deliberations on the "Momentum" multiyear plan. For example, one of the questions being considered is what kind of weapon is the right one for striking a building. What should be used, a precision rocket or a Spike missile? Both of them are precise, but they have different prices. The choice of the weapon will directly affect the cost of war and the size of the defense budget.

Another goal that the IDF is promoting in 2020 is reduction of the amount of weight carried by combat troops. Wheeled platforms such as the "Eitan" and "Namer" armored personnel carriers or light vehicles such as ATVs are capable of carrying the Spike system instead of soldiers. "Today, the soldier in the squad who carries the system with two spike missiles has several dozen kilograms on his back. We want to transfer the system to a vehicle so it can be brought to where it is needed, and at the same time give the squad more freedom," the IDF says.  

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