Following a long evaluation
process, the Ministry of Defense in Poland has selected Rafael Spike for
its future anti-tank weapon. A formal announcement was made Friday, 26 July
by deputy Defense Minister Janusz Zemke.
The signature of the contract for the $250 million program is expected by year's end, which will also involve final tests, to be completed later
this year, leading to
initial deliveries in 2003. The production will span over a period of 10
years. deliveries Spike is also competing for the Army infantry
anti-tank weapon in the UK.
The new decision is backing the
decision made in 1997 to procure the Rafael Spike family of anti-tank
missiles, including "fire and forget" man portable
Spike MR (formerly
designated Gill), the Spike LR "Fire and Update" fiber-optic guided
derivative, with an extended range of 4 km. and the vehicle or helicopter
mounted Spike ER (formerly designated NT-D) - the heavy derivative of the
Spike family, capable of attacking tanks at a range of 7 kilometers.
Poland selected the Spike in the previous
round of evaluations, as part of the upgrading program considered for the
Huzar helicopters. However, this program was shelved after a major change in
the Polish administration. The current procurement is expected to provide
for the arming for infantry units as well as the Air Force's Mi-24s.
The contract is to be signed by Rafael with
Polish arms manufacturer Mesko, which is already produces the Grom surface
to air missiles, tank ammunition, fuzes and small arms ammunition.
Mesko will build a new manufacturing line for the missiles and according to
plans, will be capable of initial deliveries by 2004. Deputy Defense
Minister Zemke said the ministry had considered bids from companies in South
Africa, France and Sweden but that the Israeli missiles were the "most
effective, although not the cheapest."