Exactor, or 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 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.



EXACTOR has a shadowy past but given the passage of time, wide reporting and formal recognition in the House of Lords and British Army website, it is probably safe to cover it.

The EXACTOR missile system has an interesting background and demonstrates just how difficult it is to keep secrets in a modern interconnected society. Rumours first surfaced with the release of a video on LiveLeak that showed one being used to destroy a Taleban IED team.

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.

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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.

There was also some information released in 2010 on L and N Battery Association website

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 EDINBURGH 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 was the first to fire EXACTOR on Op Herrick 11 and used it to devastating effect.

The JFIC successfully coordinated 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.

Not a great deal of information emerged after that, apart 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 Lords 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.

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. 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.

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SPIKE NLOS Mk2 and Mk4

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Spike NLOS Tamuz mk2

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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 2010, recognising an opportunity when they see one, Rafael offered the UK an improved version, the Mk5. 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.

Spike NLOS Mk5/EXACTOR 2 has also entered service with the Republic of Korea in the ground launched and helicopter launched role.

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 and the real-time data link enables the operator to guide the weapon, confirm target identity and abort if necessary.

The Mk5 missile has straight wings that pop out after launch, shown here in South Korean service.


Targets can be acquired post launch and use a data link guided onto the target from the launch post, or other location with suitable equipment. By having that all essential ‘man in the loop’ guidance system many of the complex and challenging Rules of Engagement (ROE) constraints can be addressed, reducing response time considerably.

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 for the final 3km. Separating the launch point from the initial gatherer of targeting information is a significant advantage.

The South Koreans purchased the system following the attacks against Yeongpyeong Island in 2010 and are likely to use them in the counter-battery role. Rafael has integrated SPIKE-NLOS with a variety of ground, sea and air platforms, confirming and amplifying the systems versatility, a lesson the UK could well learn.

South Korea uses a four missile arrangement on a Ford F550 vehicle, 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.

The SPARC trailer configuration has also been shown in models and illustrations on a lightweight all-terrain vehicle like the Polaris MRZR

[tabs] [tab title=”SPARC Mk2 Trailer”]


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Spike NLOS Exactor Polaris ATV

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SPIKE NLOS Helicopter Launched

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In 2014, Israel acknowledged the existence of the Pereh armoured carrier for the Tamuz missile that used surplus main battle tanks fitted with a specially designed turret. Each Pereh 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.

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Spike NLOS Pereh 2

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Spike NLOS Pereh 1

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Agusta Westland have integrated the SPIKE-NLOS on the Wildcat helicopter for the Republic of Korea.


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Table of Contents

RN TLAM 4 Introduction
MBDA Brimstone layout on Tornado Brimstone
MBDA SPEAR 3 Image 2 SPEAR Capability 3
RAF Tornado GR4's at RAF Akrotiri Cyprus being armed with the Paveway IV Laser Guided Bomb. Paveway IV
Tornado Storm Shadow Storm Shadow
Royal Navy Submarine HMS Astute Fires a Tomahawk Cruise Missile (TLAM) During Testing Near the USA Tomahawk
FASGW(H) Missile Sea Venom
Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM) Martlet (Lightweight Multirole Missile)
HMS Montrose fires Harpoon Harpoon
F-35 UK Weapons Trials November 2014 ASRAAM & PAVEWAY IV shot 2 ASRAAM
RAF Typhoon Aircraft Carrying Meteor Missiles Meteor BVRAAM
Soldier Mans Starstreak HVM High Velocity Missile System During Exercise Olympic Guardian for London 2012 Starstreak HVM
Sea Ceptor missile system FLAADS(M) Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM)
Sea Viper HMS Defender Type 45 Live Fire Sea Viper/ASTER
Fire Shadow Loitering Munition Fire Shadow Loitering Munition
The final pre-acceptance trial of the GMLRS (Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System) at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, USA. Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS)
Spike NLOS Tracked Vehicle Exactor (SPIKE NLOS)
Pictured are elements of the Manoeuvre Support Group MSG from 42 Commando Royal Marines, based at Bickleigh Barracks Plymouth, whilst conducting live firing of the new Light Forces Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (LFATGW) Javelin. 42 Commando Royal Marines were the first UK Armed Force to live fire the new Javelin system. The live fire demonstration was an early opportunity to see the Javelin being live fired in the UK. The future reliance on simulation,rather than live firing will mean that a demonstration such as this will be a rare event in the UK during the service life of the system. This image was submitted as part of the Peregrine 06 Photographic Competition. This image is available for non-commercial, high resolution download at www.defenceimages.mod.uk subject to terms and conditions. Search for image number 45145988.jpg ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Photographer: PO (PHOT) Sean Clee Image 45145988.jpg from www.defenceimages.mod.uk Javelin Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW)
NLAW Training Aid Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW)
Raytheon Defender Laser CIWS Lasers
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May 22, 2016 5:04 am

Actually not on British Army’s website but in the RA journal.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
May 22, 2016 11:59 am

The “DRAGON GUN” referred to above is the L118 series howitzer fitted with Schmidt und Bender sniper scope for direct fire purposes.

Mike W
May 22, 2016 4:46 pm

“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.”

Are some of the M113s still in use as launch vehicles because at least one web site has it that “some” (only?) of them would be replaced by the trailer version. Does that perhaps imply that the MOD/Army are looking long-term for a replacement vehicle? Could the weapon system be fitted to a variant of the AJAX family, for instance?

And why all the secrecy? What is so very special about the missile to make it so hush-hush?

As far as Fire Shadow is concerned, when I had the temerity to suggest, against the might of TD and others, that the weapon system might have its uses, one contributor, who sounded as if he were still serving, wrote as part of a longer series of comments, that he suspected it might be a manpower problem. Twenty-five launcher units plus missiles must have cost a lot of money and they were purchased, not just leased for trials.

May 22, 2016 5:24 pm

Mike W,
Just 25 munitions for Fire Shadow, as I read it on the page:

As for Exactor, the Israelis kept it secret for a very long time. It’s a fairly unusual capability and more useful if your enemies don’t know about it. Add to that sensitivities about using Israeli equipment in some quarters and it makes sense to keep it quiet.

Mike W
May 22, 2016 6:18 pm


Thanks very much for that information.

What you said about the reasons for Exactor being so hush-hush made a great deal of sense.

May 22, 2016 9:02 pm

Mr Fred and Mike W

The reasons for the secrecy were primarily Opsec. They didn’t want the enemy to know this capability existed. But also politically, the thought of Israeli weapons killing Muslims in the UK’s service would have caused Whitehall to set up a few pointless sub-groups to study the sensitivity around the means of eviscerating someone in a culturally sensitive manner. As it turns out when details and the origins of Exactor were clear to one and all in 2011 it caused the square root of F all fallout.

The Israeli’s kept the missile secret for a long time in its original form, but the secrecy was primarily around the vehicle deploying it. There has been plenty of Israeli video of the weapon in use for over a decade now, including one of a Palestinian mortar team looking up at the last moment, everyone knew they had the capability. The length of time they had had it was the surprise.

What interests me more about Exactor is that we bought it under a UOR, and as a result with less oversight than normal. And one of the terms of that were that we could deploy it quickly, we couldn’t wait in line. Hence the fact that the Israeli’s were able to supply 600+ older Tamuz missiles from stocks immediately, and the old, knackered M-113 carriers from reserve. Spike NLOS in it’s more recent form has been around at shows for some time, and like a lot of Israeli kit seems to lean a lot on ideas and kit that the US has considered and later not gone through with (the shorter range Spike missiles seem to be near direct copies of one of the missile systems proposed for the competition won by Javelin), so what has the UK funded to get Exactor 2 is a little unclear given that Spike NLOS was touted as a developed system for a number of years prior. And this leads me to my biggest concern about Exactor. It’s not the hardest thing to do to develop a NLOS missile. Serbia and Brazil have developed similar systems (and in many ways superior with greater range) as have Japan and China. So my question would be why haven’t we? Why is no UK manufacturer lining up to deliver one? TV guidance is nothing new, Martel was doing it in the 1970’s. Fire Shadow has all the necessary key components for the guidance. Both Europe (with Polyphem) and the US (with EFOGM, XM-501 NLOS and a couple of other projects) have gone down this road in the past and stopped. But crucially they were all using different guidance methods. XM501 had a complex autonomous seeker, EFOGM and Polyphem both went down the fibre-optic guidance route. Which does make me wonder that whilst we’re all thinking Exactor is brilliant and yes it does give the RA a capability that they’ve been lacking, would it be effective in a full on war? It uses a two way radio link to provide the video feed to the operator. That is all well and good in a COIN scenario, but how does that stack up against an enemy using jamming? Have we actually done any analysis of it’s effectiveness in a less permissive environment? The use of fibre-optics was specified for Polyphem and EFOGM for precisely these reasons (and for a couple of others). The belief (or at least perception of that belief) that we will have full control of the EM spectrum in future wars strikes me as a little worrying to say the least.

May 22, 2016 9:36 pm

Rude, some of the variants of the Spike do have fibre optic guidance, though I’m not sure of the EXACTOR and any modifications to it, so I won’t be surprised if it retains some form of secondary controls needed to configure it to the fibre optic version.

May 23, 2016 2:18 am

Buying Israeli stuff is hush-hush. I believe a certain Island nation does so and such equipment isnt publicised either.

shark bait
May 23, 2016 7:26 am

Big fan of the trailer launcher, it seems like a neat solution. Modular, Cross platform, Air portable and can be distributed concealing the manned launch platform.

Would a javelin trailer make sense to share between Ajax and MIV when they arrive? If we are leaning more on medium forces they should be equipped with more guided missile systems to maintain an anti-armour capability.

May 23, 2016 4:30 pm

Yes some of the Spike family have fibre optic guidance. It keeps the costs down on SPIKE MR which is one of the reasons it has had the success that it has, although it seems when cost isn’t the primary concern Javelin seems to win most of the time. I think the NLOS being called Spike is more a marketing tool though, as it’s been around for ages and shares little if anything with the other SPIKE variants. But Rafael clearly have the ability to deliver fibre optic control, but given that all other NLOS type missiles either have expensive autonomous seekers or fibre optic guidance I have to question whether a radio link is actually that good idea. Is it more because that is what Tamuz was developed originally with (before the US had really progressed on the fibre optic guidance front) so it has been an easy upgrade path. If thats the case I’d be a little concerned with if EXACTOR was actually operationally available in a near peer or peer conflict. Hopefully the RA have done the due diligence, but I suspect the UOR process has meant that we haven’t.

May 23, 2016 7:51 pm

1) How big is a 20km reel of optical fibre
2) What do you* do with the line once you’ve unspooled it?

*or what does your enemy do with it.

May 24, 2016 5:48 am

mr fred
A 20km spool of fine optical fibre isn’t that big. Just think how much space a TOW’s wire occupies for it’s 5km range. The guidance wire is thicker than optical fibre, plus TOW is smaller than an NLOS.
For the cable it just gets dumped, its not much use unless someone wants to reel 20km in. I do remember reading in a book how a Gazelle crashed at BATUS after flying low through a small fold in the ground that had, over the years, become festooned with Swingfire guidance cables.

May 24, 2016 7:24 am

rude, Spike vs Javelin, that would depend on what you mean by “win”. “Winning” in weapons in my book doesn’t mean you have more range or more functions, I call a “win” when you drop that round on your enemy’s head, which would mean that both Javelin and Spike can “win”. Comparing the minor details about their capabilities is just nitpicking with the wrong purpose.

mr fred, the Spike MR tube that you can find pictures of on the web come with a 4km spool of cable. It’s tucked into the back, you can hardly see it. But I do get your point. It’s a “just in case” thing, assuming someone jams your guidance. “IF” they can do it. Normally, don’t see things like jammers too close to the front. Wonder why… :)

Brian Black
Brian Black
May 24, 2016 9:54 am

Rudeboy, I don’t know about Swingfire, but there is no cable on TOW missiles. There are two single strands of unshrouded, untwisted fine copper wire.

The copper itself is fine enough gauge that there isn’t a great difference between the weight of a copper guidance wire and an optical fibre. The weight saving comes from only needing a single strand optical fibre.

The problematic issue for a 25km guidance wire is not weight, because obviously you can make a missile as big as you like to accommodate any length of wire.

The problem is that with a surface-launched missile flying at no more than about 200 metres above the ground, the trailing wire is left draped along the ground just a few hundred metres behind. A 25km guidance wire would never stay intact long enough for the missile to reach that range. The wire could be crossing numerous roads, or locals would learn to pop out and break the wire. So nobody bothers to try and make wire guided missiles with a range of more than about 4km.

Gazelles have crashed in BATUS for years because of the boring, featureless terrain. At dawn, dusk, or night, pilots lose perspective, and gentle undulating hillocks suddenly leap up and take out low-flying aircraft. I suspect that in your case the wires were not more than a contributing distraction. A web search didn’t throw up anything similar, and it’s usually high-tension cables that take out helicopters. I’ve also seen a Gazelle that’s been flown through a lightweight power line and landed with no injuries and minimal damage (cut through fairings and a few scratches).

Brian Black
Brian Black
May 24, 2016 10:06 am

Mr.Fred, probably not a lot of use for second-hand optical fibre (though if we left enough around a third world country some entrepreneur would come up with ideas); but copper wires can potentially be collected and used for IED command lines.

In the shitty countries where Britain likes to fight its wars, there will always be plenty of kids ready to pick up our rubbish for a few cents salvage. The relative scrap value to income level would also make fine copper wire more attractive.

May 24, 2016 10:16 am

Also the missile is highly likely to become ineffective if during flight the command wire crosses any electricity cables or overhead railway cables etc. Post firing wire retrieval (In peace-time) is onerous to say the least.

May 24, 2016 10:31 am

That’s the advantage of fibre optics. Electricity doesn’t affect it. Not to mention these newfangled “top attack” rounds tend to be popped pretty high, both to avoid terrain and to “try” coming in from the top to avoid anti-missile systems that the soviets like to put on their tanks. No idea if it works, but it’s at least worth a shot (pun not intended).

Practically though, it might just be simpler to use an AJ (anti-jamming) mode on your equipment, which is what I suspect they did for the NLOS version.

May 25, 2016 10:19 am

Not sure if I’ve got this correct, but isn’t this a precision ‘surgical’ weapon ?
Why would you be using this to take out individual mortar teams or surgical precision strikes on close(ish) targets in a near peer or a peer war ?
Surely the whole point of this is to take out ‘nuisances’ in a COIN environment or protecting a base in occupied territory from artillery sniping with minimal collateral damage — unlikely to be used in a main battle with ECM or jammers with a peer/near peer as those would involve proper artillery or area denial weapons rather than precision surgical strike stuff – I would have thought.

May 26, 2016 5:35 pm


Actually it’s the other way around. The Tamuz (in new models called Spike NLOS) was developed as a long range anti-armour missile for a re-run of the Yom Kippur war. Essentially it’s usefulness in modern COIN is just a lucky coincidence. It’s real forte was to decimate Egyptian and Syrian T72 formations from miles away, behind cover, or to start killing Syrian follow up or supporting arms like SAM sites so that the Israelis could maintain some sort of partly whilst they deployed their reserves. That’s why the Israelis expended so much effort to get the launcher to look like a run of the mill M60 tank.

My worry is that whilst the Israelis seem confident of it’s guidance system, how sure of it are we in a near peer or peer to peer conflict? With a fibre optic guidance system you canj be sure you’re safe from jamming, not so with radio waves, particularly if you’re broadcasting video.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x