Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles
Appendix 4: Undesignated Vehicles
Copyright © 2003-2007 Andreas Parsch


The Spike shoulder-launched guided missile was designed in-house at the NAWC (Naval Air Warfare Center) at China Lake. Concept design began in early 1999, and in early 2001, funds for a proper development program were allocated. DRS Technologies Inc. has since been selected as the industry partner for Spike development and evaluation.

The Spike is a very small and light-weight man-portable infantry missile for use by U.S. Marines or U.S. Navy Seals against "low value" unarmoured or lightly armoured targets. The reusable launcher weighs 2.3 kg (5.1 lb) and the missile 2.0 kg (4.4 lb), and it is expected that a single soldier can carry a launcher and three missile rounds in a backpack. Spike uses a solid-fueled rocket motor with no visible flame and no smoke, so that the launcher's position is not easily revealed. The motor also allows firing of the weapon from enclosed positions. The missile uses an electro-optical (TV) imaging seeker, which can be locked on a target before firing, making Spike a fire-and-forget weapon. For night-time operations, a laser spot seeker could be fitted as an alternative. Spike can be used against stationary or moving ground targets, and low and slow flying helicopters. It has a maximum range of about 3.2 km (2 miles), and the high-explosive warhead of about 1 kg (2.2 lb) is detonated by a contact fuze.

Drawing: U.S. Navy
Spike (prototype design)

The Spike development goal is to produce a very cheap missile (about US$ 5000 per round) to replace short-range unguided RPGs (Rocket-Propelled Grenades), and to supplement the much more sophisticated and expensive FGM-148 Javelin anti-armor missile. A Spike could be fired at essentially any low value target, where a Javelin would be "wasted". It would also be possible to use Spike as an air-to-ground armament for battlefield surveillance UAVs.

The SDD (System Development and Demonstration) phase for Spike began at the end of 2003, and the first controlled flight tests were conducted in May 2004. Self-guided flights followed later that year. In early 2007, a Spike test missile hit a moving target at a range of 680 m (750 yd). The SDD Spike missiles are slightly larger than the prototype design, with a length of 63.5 cm (25 in) and a weight of 2.4 kg (5.3 lb).


Note: Data given by several sources show slight variations. Figures given below may therefore be inaccurate!

Data for Spike:

 Prototype designSDD design
Length50.8 cm (20 in)63.5 cm (25 in)
Finspan13.1 cm (5.14 in)?
Diameter3.99 cm (1.57 in)5.72 cm (2.25 in)
Weight2.0 kg (4.4 lb)2.4 kg (5.3 lb)
Speed230 m/s (750 fps)?
Range3.2 km (2 miles)> 2200 m (2400 yd)
PropulsionSolid-fueled rocket
Warhead1 kg (2.2 lb) high-explosive

Main Sources

[1] SPIKE Shoulder Launched Man-Packable Guided Missile System
[2] Sandra I. Erwin: "Marines and Navy Seals Show Interest in Backpack Missiles", National Defense Magazine, December 2001
[3] Marc Selinger: "Navy Plans To Adapt Spike Missile To Unmanned Aerial Vehicles", Aerospace Daily
[4] Navy's Smallest Image-Guided Missile Completes Successful Tests, NAVAIR Press Release, 27 May 2004
[5] David Fulghum: "Sic'em, Spike!", 18 May 2007

Back to Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles, Appendix 4

Last Updated: 19 May 2007