Greece has recently finalized a deal with Israel to purchase anti-tank Spike missiles for its army and navy. The agreement, worth up to $400 million, is part of a series of defence procurement programmes that Greece has launched to modernize its armed forces and enhance its regional security.
Spike missiles are a family of precision-guided weapons that can be launched from various platforms, such as helicopters, vehicles, ships, or infantry units. They use electro-optical technology to track and hit targets with high accuracy, even in adverse weather conditions or beyond line of sight. They can engage tanks, armoured vehicles, bunkers, boats, or other land and sea targets.
Spike missiles come in several variants, with different ranges and capabilities. The ones that Greece is buying are the Spike-NLOS (Non-Line Of Sight) version, which have a range of over 30 kilometres and can be guided by an operator via a data link or by using pre-programmed coordinates. They can also switch targets mid-flight or abort the attack if needed.
Greece’s purchase of Spike missiles is part of its efforts to upgrade its defence equipment and deter potential aggression from Turkey, which has been escalating its claims and provocations against Greek sovereignty and territorial rights in the Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey disputes Greece’s maritime boundaries and airspace, as well as its rights to explore and exploit natural resources in the region. Turkey also challenges Greece’s sovereignty over several islands and islets near its coast.
Greece sees Spike missiles as an effective shield for the defence of its islands, especially those that are close to Turkey and lack adequate fortifications. The missiles can be deployed on mobile launchers or on Apache attack helicopters, which Greece is also upgrading as part of the deal with Israel. The missiles can strike targets on land or sea, from long distances and with minimal collateral damage.
The deal also reflects Greece’s strategic partnership with Israel, which has been growing in recent years. The two countries share common interests and concerns in the region, such as countering Turkish expansionism and promoting energy cooperation. They also conduct regular joint military exercises and exchange intelligence and expertise. Israel is one of Greece’s main suppliers of defence equipment and technology, along with France and the United States.
The deal has several implications for Greece’s security and diplomacy. On the one hand, it signals Greece’s determination to defend its sovereignty and interests in the face of Turkish threats and challenges. It also demonstrates Greece’s ability to acquire advanced weapons systems and enhance its military readiness and capabilities. On the other hand, it could also increase tensions and competition with Turkey, which may seek to counterbalance Greece’s acquisition of Spike missiles with its own purchases or deployments of similar or superior weapons.
The deal also has implications for the wider region and for NATO, the military alliance that both Greece and Turkey belong to. It shows that Greece is seeking to diversify its sources of defence equipment and technology, beyond its traditional allies in Europe and North America. It also shows that Israel is expanding its influence and presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, where it has forged alliances with Greece, Cyprus, Egypt, and other countries. This could create new opportunities for cooperation or confrontation among regional actors.
The deal also poses challenges for NATO, which has been trying to de-escalate tensions and prevent conflicts between its two members. NATO has been mediating between Greece and Turkey on various issues, such as establishing a hotline for avoiding incidents at sea or air, resuming exploratory talks on their disputes, or finding a solution for the Cyprus problem. However, NATO has limited leverage and influence over its members’ defence policies and procurement decisions, which are driven by their national interests and threat perceptions.
Spike anti-tank missile
The Spike anti-tank missile is one of the most advanced and versatile weapons of its kind in the world. Developed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the Spike missile family consists of several variants with different ranges and capabilities, from the short-range Spike-SR to the long-range Spike-LR and Spike-ER, and the extended-range Spike-NLOS. The Spike missiles can be launched from various platforms, including infantry, vehicles, helicopters, and ships, and can engage and destroy a variety of targets, such as tanks, armoured vehicles, bunkers, buildings, and even helicopters.
One of the key features of the Spike missile is its fire-and-forget mode, which allows the operator to launch the missile and then move to cover or switch to another target, without having to guide the missile until impact. The missile uses an electro-optical seeker that can operate in daylight or night-time conditions and can choose between a charge-coupled device (CCD) or an imaging infrared (IIR) sensor. The missile also has a fibre-optic link that enables a fire, observe and update mode, in which the operator can track the target or correct the missile’s trajectory after launch. This mode also allows for a top attack profile, in which the missile climbs to a high altitude and then dives onto the target from above, defeating explosive reactive armour (ERA) and other countermeasures.
The Spike missile has a tandem-charge high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead that can penetrate up to 1 meter of steel armour. The warhead also has a secondary fragmentation effect that can cause additional damage to soft targets. The Spike missile has a high hit probability and accuracy, thanks to its advanced guidance system and flight control. The missile can also be equipped with different types of seekers, such as dual CCD/IIR or passive CCD, depending on the operational requirements and environmental conditions.
The Spike missile has been widely exported and used by over 40 countries around the world, including 19 EU and NATO members. The missile has proven its effectiveness in various conflicts and scenarios, such as the 2006 Lebanon War, the War in Afghanistan, the Gaza War, and the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The Spike missile is constantly being upgraded and improved by Rafael, with new versions such as the Spike-LR II and Spike-ER II offering increased range, performance, and lethality. The Spike missile is a formidable weapon that gives its users a significant edge on the battlefield.