NAVAIR

Spike missile project records another successful demo at China Lake

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spike_launch.PNG

Feb 20, 2008

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By Renee Hatcher

NAWCWD Public Affairs

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division conducted its fourth successful Spike guided missile demonstration on Feb. 12 at China Lake.

“This was a major milestone for us,” said Steven Felix, Spike project manager at NAWCWD. “We were able to simulate Spike being fired from an unmanned air vehicle (UAV), and we used the NAWCWD-developed, UAV-capable Airborne Fire Control System (AFCS) for the first time.”

Spike test engineers in conjunction with NAWCWD Range Department personnel simulated a UAV launch by firing Spike from the top of a small mountain on the China Lake range down onto a target on the valley floor nearly a mile and a half away. The Spike missile hit a Range Department developed and operated remote controlled target truck traveling at about a 20 mph crossing velocity. The AFCS used a radio frequency wireless data link to communicate between Spike and the remotely located weapons control station to command the missile's lock-on-before-launch target acquisition, track, and launch system.

“Spike successfully tracked and hit the panel van target as expected,” Felix said. “The remote launch is a primary capability that must be demonstrated before pushing forward to the goal of firing a Spike missile from a small UAV.”

Originally conceived and developed by Felix at China Lake, Spike is the smallest guided missile in the world at 25 inches long, 2.25 inch diameter, and 5.3 pounds, and is the only missile using an electro-optical imaging strapped-down seeker. The cost goal is $5,000 per unit, which would make Spike the lowest cost guided missile currently in existence.

“Spike’s small total weight could make it the weapon-of-choice for the small, tactical UAVs because of their limited payload capabilities,” Felix said. “It could also be shoulder-launched in ground combat or used as a force-protection weapon to defend surface ships from small-boat swarms, and it could be available to the warfighter in less than three years.”

PHOTO CUTLINES

Test image

A Spike test missile is fired from the top of a small mountain on the China Lake range to simulate being launched from an unmanned air vehicle.

Test image

Spike is about to hit the remote controlled target just as the test team planned.

Photo by Renee Hatcher

Steve Felix, Spike project manager, updates former China Lakers Frank Knemeyer, Burrell Hays, and Dick Mello on the progress of the Spike project at NAWCWD.

Photo by Renee Hatcher

Art Hickle, Spike deputy project manager, explains to Mary Retterer, president of Cerro Coso Community College, how the Spike missile will be attached to the rail beside them and then launched at a moving target on the valley floor below.

Photo by Joy Lewis

Steve Felix, Spike project manager, explains how NAWCWD test engineers simulated a UAV launch by firing Spike from the top of this small mountain on the China Lake range and hitting a target nearly a mile and a half away.

NAWCWD Public Affairs
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