Air Weapons: South China Sea Surprise

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May 11, 2017: The Philippines has decided to equip the two British made AW159 Wildcat helicopters it ordered in 2016 with the Israeli Spike NLOS missile. These missiles would be used against surface targets. These two helicopters will operate from the two new frigates the Philippines also ordered from South Korea in 2016. Each of these frigates will carry one AW159, which is also used by the South Korean Navy and Britain (army and navy). Similar in size and capability to the U.S. SH-60 Seahawk, the six ton Wildcat has a normal endurance of 90 minutes (270 minutes carrying max fuel) and a top speed of 290 kilometers an hour. For naval service the Wildcat can carry dipping sonar and one or two anti-submarine torpedoes. In cargo mode it can carry seven passengers or half a ton of cargo.

The Spike NLOS (Non Line-Of-Sight) is a long-range (25 kilometers) version of the Israeli Spike guided missile. Each one weighs 70kg (155 pounds), twice what the next largest Spike version. Spike is a series of anti-tank (or whatever) missiles with ranges from 200-25,000 meters. Spike NLOS can be fired at a target the operator cannot see (but someone else, with a laser designator, can see). Spike NLOS is usually fired from helicopters, which can also carry the laser designator. The Philippines wants to use Spike NLOS off their west coast, to help block Chinese efforts to take possession of Filipino islands and reefs. The Wildcats can carry four Spike NLOS missiles. A helicopter only has to be about 40 meters (122 feet) above the water to spot something 25 kilometers away. The Spike NLOS has multiple guidance systems, including a live video feed that allows the pilot to fly the missile into to the target, or use the image of the selected target to have the missile home in by itself (“fire and forget”). On the downside Spike NLOS is expensive, costing over $250,000 each.

 

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