Small, cheap, accurate -– all the words to make a weapon researcher’s heart beat fast. U.S. Navy officials say they have conducted the first successful demonstration –- against a moving target -- of what they contend is the world’s smallest, fire-and-forget, precision guided missile. The Spike, a 5.3 lb., 25-in. long, 2.25-in. diameter missile, used its electro-optical imaging seeker to acquire, track and hit a target moving at 30 mph at a range of over 750 yds. during a test by the Navy’s Air Warfare Center Weapons Div. at China Lake, Calif.
The ultimate plan in the test program is to equip a small, unmanned aircraft with the weapon and a weapons management suite that would be connected via RF data link to a ground-based weapons control station. The next phase of the program is scheduled for the fall and will involve launching a Spike from a 750-ft. mountain peak at a target moving at 60 mph over 2,400 yards away.
A longer term goal is build the missile at a cost of $5,000 each. At that price, officials believe they can expand the missile’s capabilities to include its use as a shoulder-fired infantry weapon or as a weapon to defend ships from swarms of small boats and light aircraft.