Artillery: JAGM Gets Spiked


November 30, 2009:  Israeli arms manufacturers have, once again, shown up their American counterparts. This time it's with a new version of the Israeli Spike missile, one with a range of 25 kilometers. This version weighs 155 pounds (70kg), twice what the current largest version of Spike weighs. Spike is a series of anti-tank (or whatever) missiles with ranges from 200-8,000 meters. The 25 kilometers version is called Spike NLOS (Non Line-Of-Sight), meaning that can be fired at a target the operator cannot see (but someone else, with a laser designator, can see). The U.S. tried to develop a missile like this (the JCM, or Joint Common Missile), but the development failed and JCM was cancelled three years ago. A new efforts, JAGM, was begun (to replace current BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire and AGM-65 Maverick missiles). To that end, JAGM will have twice the range of Hellfire (16 kilometers, instead of the current eight) and a seeker using three different technologies (radar, heat sensing and laser). The explosives in the 20 pound warhead will be less sensitive (and less subject to accidental detonation). JAGM is not expected to be ready for service for another eight years, assuming it survives development.

Israel also beat the U.S. to the punch with longer range NLOS missiles. For over a decade, the U.S. had been developing the "NetFires" system. But earlier this year, an Israeli firm revealed the "Jumper" system, which puts eight missiles, and a control unit in a nine (3x3) cell box (cargo type container) measuring 1.4x1.4x2 meters tall (4.3x4.3x6.2 feet). Each 129 pound (63 kg), 150mm guided missile is nearly six feet (1.8m) long and has a range of 50 kilometers. The missile uses GPS and laser seeker for guidance.

The U.S. Army NetFires (or NLOS-LS) is actually two different missiles, identical in weight and size, but different in how they operate. The main one is PAM (Precision Attack Missile). This is a 178mm diameter missile that weighs 120 pounds, and has a range of 40 kilometers. PAM attacks from above, with a 28 pound warhead. This enables it to kill any tank by hitting the thinner top armor. This warhead would also sink a small boat, especially one carrying a suicide bomber. PAM uses a GPS, imaging infrared (seeks a particular shape down there) or laser seeker.

PAMs are vertically-launched, from a 4x6x4 foot (wide x deep x high) 1.5 ton cargo container. The missiles are shipped from the factory in this sealed container. Each container holds 15 missiles and can be carried on the back of a truck, or a ship.

Both systems allow for the container to be just moved to a suitable launching area, where the missiles can be launched remotely, as needed. The NetFires will be available in two years, while Jumper is available now. This stuff is not cheap, with each missile costing over $50,000.



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