SOFIC NEWS: Rafael Introduces New Air-To-Surface Missile

By Mikayla Easley

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems rendering

TAMPA, Fl. — Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has unveiled a new missile the company believes will be suitable for future lightweight aviation platforms like those sought by Special Operations Command.

The Aerospike munition is an air-to-surface, stand-off precision guided missile designed to engage both moving and static targets from fixed-wing aircraft. Introduced May 16 during the Special Operation Forces Industry Conference in Tampa, the new munition is derived from the company’s Spike LR II guided munition, said Gal Papier, vice president of business development at Rafael USA.

“We took that missile … and adapted it to a fixed-wing solution because our customers were asking,” he said on the sidelines of SOFIC. The Aerospike features the same airframe, electro-optical/infra-red seekers and warheads as the Spike LR II but has longer wings that give the munition an improved glide ratio, he added.

The Aerospike weighs about 30 pounds and gives operators a significant stand-off range of more than 18 miles when launched from 27,000 feet, he said. The missile’s range sets it apart from other surface munitions used today, which only reach around 5 miles, he added.

The Aerospike also features a real-time radio frequency data-link that “enables mid-flight target handovers, re-targeting and abort capabilities, while also controlling approach angle, azimuth and missile flight trajectory,” according to a Rafael press release.

Papier said that along with its extended range, the Aerospike stands out because of its passive capabilities and advanced lethality using anti-tank and blast fragmentation warheads.

The U.S. Army is currently evaluating a related product — Rafael’s Spike non-line-of-sight missile — for use as a long-range precision munition system on helicopters. Lockheed Martin and Rafael are conducting testing and operational assessments under a $139 million contract with a January 2025 completion date.

According to Rafael, the Aerospike is suitable for a variety of mission environments, including close-air support, counterterrorism and counter anti-access/area denial. Papier added that Rafael believes Aerospike would be an ideal component to the U.S. Special Operations Command’s upcoming Armed Overwatch aviation platform.

“We believe it is very relevant for both counterinsurgency … and also new kinds of threats, which they are facing now,” he said.

Rafael is waiting for SOCOM’s decision regarding Armed Overwatch, which is expected by the end of fiscal year 2022. The new platform will replace the 28 U-28A Draco intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft as well as eight trainers.


Topics: Special Operations

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