Armor: Thai Spikes

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February 4, 2021: In 2020 Thailand became the 35th export customer for the Israeli Spike ATGM (Anti-tank-guided missile). Spike is a family of five ATGMs (SR, MR, LR2, ER2, NLOS) using similar technology but varying with regards to weight, range and warhead size. Thailand purchased the first, and most popular version, Spike MR. Entering service in 1997, the Spike MR missile, with the container it is stored and fired from, weighs 14 kg (30.8 pounds), while the CLU (command launch unit), which includes a thermal sight and battery, weighs 12.8 kg (28.3 pounds). Spike MR has a range of 2,500 meters and is "fire and forget" (once you have the target vehicle in the CLU crosshairs, press a button and once fired the missile will go after the target vehicle, even if it moves). Since the late 1990s Spike systems have become the standard ATGM for Israeli forces, as well as 19 NATO nations. Over 33,000 Spike missiles have been built since the late 1990s and nearly twenty percent of them have been used in combat or for training. Spike systems are often mounted on vehicles, helicopters or small ships.

Spike MR is widely considered as effective as the American Javelin, which entered service in 2002 and is also a popular export item. Javelin weighs 22.3 kg (49 pounds), with its disposable launch tube and battery/seeker coolant unit) and is fired from a 6.4 kg (14 pound) CLU which contains a 4x day sight and a 9x heat-sensing night sight. The missile has a tandem (two warheads, to blast through reactive armor) warhead that can hit a target straight on or from the top. This latter capability enables the Javelin to use its 8.2 kg (18 pound) warhead to destroy any existing tank (including the U.S. M1). Infantry loved the fire and forget feature because it allows them to take cover once the missile is fired and shows the enemy where they are.

When countries go looking for a new, more modern ATGM, there are many models to choose from, including Spike MR and Javelin and these two are usually the finalists.

 


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