Spike Missile Development

First, there’s real potential for confusion here. The Israelis developed and fielded a family of small guided missiles marketed under the name Spike.

Coincidentally, the subject of this post is an in-house development project for a  small guided missile called Spike. I think I posted about this last year, but I thought I’d share an update.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division at China Lake has a long history of developing aerial weapons for the Navy. Probably its most famous design is the AIM-9 Sidewinder family of missiles. Of course, most weapons design work is actually performed by contract to major defense industry. But China Lake likes to keep its hand in.  After all, how can you ride herd on the contractors if you don’t have a working knowledge of weapon design?

To that end, NAWC decided back in 2001 to design a very small missile. The goal wasn’t explicitly to field a weapons system, but rather to serve as a reality check on the state of the art, and as a learning tool for NAWC engineers to see what the challenges of designing a weapon were.

Buy using existing technology, often commercial off the shelf items, and with a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve, over time, the team developed a missile just over two feet long, and weighing just five pounds.

[scribd id=272892196 key=key-ZzQWMSJqJrKCBvJgUPil mode=scroll]

The first version had fixed fins, which obviously has some limitations. The “Block II” iteration has folding fins, so the round can be launched from a combined storage/launch tube, much like the TOW.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOskwt7M_r4]

Spike isn’t a POR, or Program of Record, so there isn’t really much development money, nor is there a stated requirement for it to fulfill, which would be needed before it could be produced and fielded.

One of the interesting things noted in the presentation above is one of my favorite buzzwords- the 80% solution. If you have a system that solves 80% of your problems (say, machine gun nests ) it’s almost bound to be relatively inexpensive. It’s striving for that last 20% capability that causes costs to skyrocket.