The Slovak Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with Eurospike for the supply of the fifth-generation SPIKE LR II anti-tank rocket. Though 34 national militaries operate SPIKE ATGMs, the news makes the central European country only the sixth to purchase the advanced LR II iteration – which Australia selected in 2018.
The SPIKE Long Range (LR) II has a maximum range of 5,500 metres and is operated both as an integrated component of light combat vehicles, and in stand-alone capacity by infantry soldiers. Initial testing by Eurospike determined armour penetration capability to be more than 70 centimetres of rolled homogenous armour.
The company describes the ATGM as "a cutting-edge fifth-generation, multi-platform, multi-mission and multi-range electro-optical missile, with enhanced stand-off range of 5.5 kilometres, fire and forget capabilities as well as man-in-the-loop features, such as retargeting mid-flight, attack of hidden targets beyond-line-of-sight, as well as the ability to launch to non-line-of-sight targets based solely on their geo-coordinates".
Compared with the standard LR, the model (now operated by Slovakia, Australia, Israel and others) boasts reduced weight, increased range, 30 per cent increased armour penetration, and the ability to fire on grid target co-ordinates using an inertial measurement unit for third party-target allocation. The system is also able to hit targets at higher impact angles of up to 70 degrees, owing to a counteractive protective system (CAPS).
In August 2018, then-minister for defence industry Christopher Pyne announced Australia's purchase of the LR II model, to be produced by Varley Rafael Australia (VRA). The missile has since been used to equip the Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle, as part of the Lethality System Project (LAND 159).
At the time, Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr said that the acquisition of the SPIKE LR II system would contribute to the Army maintaining a competitive edge against evolving threats.
"The Long Range Direct Fire Support Weapon capability will enable our dismounted teams to engage armoured targets faster, at increased range, and with improved accuracy," LTGEN Burr said.
"New technology and capabilities enable Army to challenge its adversaries in complex, remote and hostile environments."
Eurospike managing director Wolfgang Herrnberger was similarly optimistic about the acquisition by the Slovak Armed Forces.
"We are very thankful for the confidence of the Slovak army and would like also to thank NSPA for their quick responsiveness and professionalism. This procurement by Slovakia follows past contracts of SPIKE Missile by Germany, Baltic states Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, as well as many other European countries, which has created common ATGM capabilities within Europe, serving interoperability and potentially future cross-nation mutual support,” he said.