Spike NLOS (EXACTOR)
SPIKE NLOS, is an electro-optically guided missile with a range of up to 25km in service with the British Army, designated EXACTOR
EXACTOR is Spike NLOS, described by Rafael as;
The Spike NLOS is an electro-optically guided missile for ranges of up to 25 km with pinpoint accuracy and midcourse navigation. The weapon system can be launched from land, air and naval platforms.
EXACTOR-2 is currently in service with the Royal Artillery.
Spike NLOS (EXACTOR) History
Although Spike NLOS has a history that goes back to the late eighties, as EXACTOR, relatively new and somewhat secretive until recently.
The requirement for EXACTOR was defined as an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) for use in Iraq in 2007 in the counter indirect fire role. The only system available within the time required was the Israeli missile system called Spike-NLOS (Tamuz). The Israeli government allowed the UK to lease/purchase fourteen systems direct from IDF war stocks, including 600 missiles.
By August 2007, it was in service with 1 Royal Horse Artillery in Basra. Two versions of the missile were obtained, the Mk2 with a daylight camera, and Mk4 with a thermal imaging system for night operations. The images below (in Israeli service) show the original Mk2 variant, with swept wings.
Despite having measurable success, early operational use highlighted a number of deficiencies, the Mk2 missile was difficult to control, the M113 vehicles extremely unreliable, not well suited to the heat and display resolution much lower than contemporary equipment.
As operations in Iraq wound down and the operating environment in Afghanistan deteriorated a similar capability was needed. The system was transferred to Afghanistan in 2009. Rumours first surfaced with the release of a video on LiveLeak that showed one being used to destroy a Taleban IED team.
In 2010, recognising an opportunity when they see one, Rafael offered the UK an improved version, the Mk5, and the MoD approved its development, providing some funding.
The BBC broadcast a documentary called The Bomb Squad that had brief commentary on the system being used from Camp Bastion and there were some snippets released in official reports, the first one I think was the MoD Annual Accounts 2010-2011 about pinch point trades of all things, reporting a shortfall of 1 person against an establishment of 24 for EXACTOR.
At the L(Néry) Battery OCA website, a short confirmation was described;
BC L (Nery) Battery
In September 2009, L (Nèry) Bty RHA deployed to MUSA QAL’AH in Afghanistan in support of the HCR battle Group. B Bty provided three Lt Guns operating of FOB EDINGBURGH along with a pair of EXACTOR launchers. The JFIC and BG HQ were based in FOB MUSA QAL’AH and the FSTs were dispersed in a protective ring of PBs providing security to the local population. Due to the number of PBs and temporary OPs in the AO, most of the FSTs were split into FSEs which maximised patrolling tempo and the support available to the ground holding companies. The Bty was kinetic straight from the start and the use of OS increased as the tour progressed. L Bty were the first to fire EXACTOR on Op HERRICk 11 and used it to devastating effect.
The JFIC successfully co-ordinated multiple fire missions with different assets on a daily basis and ensured that minimal collateral damage was inflicted on local nationals and their compounds. In little over six months the Bty engaged enemy forces with AH, CAS, armed UAV, 105 mm Lt Gun (including the DRAGON GUN) 81mm Mors, GMLRS and EXACTOR.
The Musa Qalah AO was the most kinetic during OP HERRICK 11 and through the use of intelligent fires the HCR BG extended the physical boundaries of the AO, the influence of the Afghan Government and the security of the local population. By March 2010 the BG had successfully shaped the AO to facilitate a RIP with the USMC. None of this would have been possible without the support from the Bty families and the Regimental echelon.
Janes postulated that it was, in fact, the Spike NLOS (Non-Line of Sight), Spike NLOS was formerly called the Tamuz missile and has been in service with the IDF for several years, since 1981 in fact, although obviously in earlier versions. In addition to the basics of operational security, the origin of Spike NLOS would have been of obvious concern.
The 2010 Royal Artillery Briefing Guide described how 39 Regiment Royal Artillery were re-organising to provide an integrated precision fires capability comprising a Brigade HQ Targeting Cell, GMLRS troop and two EXACTOR troops.
In 2011 Angus Robertson tabled a Parliamentary Question;
Angus Robertson (SNP Westminster Leader; Moray, Scottish National Party)
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) what vehicle is capable of firing the Exactor missile;
(2) whether his Department has acquired M133 armoured personnel carriers under urgent operational requirements for operations in Afghanistan.
Peter Luff (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)
The UK has a range of systems deployed in Afghanistan to support coalition forces and protect civilians. However, I am withholding further details on individual capabilities as their disclosure would, or would be likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.
Not a great deal of information emerged after that, apart from the M113 vehicles that were used originally causing several issues and one or two LiveLeak videos that had some interesting snippets of night firings that look very much like those of Spike NLOS/Tamuz on YouTube.
In 2014, there was an official acknowledgement in a House of Lord’s question;
Asked by Baroness Tonge, Asked on: 04 November 2014, Ministry of Defence, Israel
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what weapons the United Kingdom has purchased from Israel in the last five years.
Answered by: Lord Astor of Hever, 17 November 2014
In the last five years the Ministry of Defence has purchased the Exactor weapons system, comprising Exactor 2 palletised launchers and Exactor Mk5 missiles, from a contractor based in Israel
With development funding from the UK, the Mk5 entered service with the British Army as EXACTOR 2 and was displayed at defence shows in 2010/2011. Various changes in the new build missile system and a new trailer to replace the M113’s were included in the Mk2 package.
The SPARC trailer also houses four missiles on a 360-degree rotating assembly that can be operated up to 500m away as a semi-mobile base defence system.
Exactor has remained in service with the Royal Artillery since, with Thales providing support and integration services.
The 2021 Integrated Review and Command Paper described the immediate future for Exactor
In the short term, the Army will invest to sustain the Exactor missile system. Over the longer-term this capability will be upgraded to provide enhanced lethality against emerging threats.
It is assumed this will take the form of a mid-life upgrade and perhaps some vehicle mounting option, although little has been released so that is speculation.
Air manoeuvre skills are essential in 16 AA Bde. Conducting reg trg with the @RAF helps us keep these skills sharp and allow rapid movement of the guns to achieve surprise and seize the initiative. #ExCYPHERSTRIKE has also seen significant steps in using CH-47 to move Exactor. pic.twitter.com/daYkojznfO— 7 Para RHA (@Airbornegunners) February 25, 2021
The Battle Group Organic Anti-Armour (BGOAA) concept work may inform what comes after Exactor.
Spike NLOS (EXACTOR) Capabilities
The Rafael Spike NLOS Mk5 is a non-line of sight missile with a dual-mode electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) camera seeker. With an effective range of between 25 and 30 km, it weighs 71kg in its canister, much larger and heavier than the previous versions.
The Mk5 missile has straight wings that pop out after launch, shown here in South Korean service.
Early missiles were guided to the target manually using a daylight TV seeker but this has been progressively improved so that current missiles can utilise a day/night semi-automatic seeker, GPS and a two way RF datalink to enable inflight target acquisition and guidance, the latter being especially important in operational situations with demanding and complex rules of engagement.
It can also be used with offboard target designation. The use of a radio data link also enables initial targeting information to be passed by off-board systems such as other ground units, UAV’s, helicopters or other aircraft and then the operator basically picks up from that point and flies the missile onto the target. The missile flies to a waypoint and the operator guides it in for the final 3km. Separating the launch point from the initial gatherer of targeting information is a significant advantage.
The Mk2 and Mk4 used a warhead optimised for armour penetration but the Mk5 (Exactor) has a more versatile warhead.
It was reported that the early versions were difficult to control as they were very fast but slowing the missile down also creates problems in high-intensity combat environments, as ever, everything is a trade-off against one requirement or another.
In addition to the trailer and M113 vehicle described above, Spike NLOS (not Exactor) has been integrated with a variety of small craft, vehicles and aircraft.
Spike NLOS Mk5/EXACTOR 2 entered service with the Republic of Korea in the ground-launched and helicopter launched role.
The South Koreans purchased the system following the attacks against Yeongpyeong Island in 2010 for use in the counter-battery role, mounting then on Ford F550 Sandcat vehicles
Perhaps the most unusual vehicle mount option is the ‘Pereh’ in service with the Israel Defence Force (IDF)
In 2014, Israel acknowledged the existence of the Pereh armoured carrier for the Tamuz missile that used surplus Magach main battle tanks fitted with a specially designed turret. Each Pere vehicle has a crew of four (driver, commander and two gunners) and twelve missiles. The turret is fitted with a dummy gun barrel to disguise the special nature of the vehicle.
Spike NLOS has also been mounted on a number of light vehicles.
From a JLTV
And a Sandcat
Agusta Westland has integrated the SPIKE-NLOS on the Wildcat helicopter for the Republic of Korea and The Philippine Navy.
Israel has for some time fielded Spike NLOS on their AH-64 and AN-1 Cobra attack helicopters.
The US Army has recently taken delivery of some Spike NLOS missiles as an interim weapon to provide stand-off ranges in an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environment, to be carried by AH-64 attack helicopters.
205 missiles will be obtained in 2021 against a total contract value of $45.3m
Spike NLOS has a dedicated naval launcher, designed for small combat vessels.
Azerbaijan’s OPV 62 patrol vessels are fitted with Spike NLOS
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