Farnborough Air Show

Israeli Smart Bomb Closes In on Service Debut

 - July 18, 2018, 9:56 AM
At Farnborough 2018, the Spice 250 is being displayed as an option for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen.

Rafael’s Spice 250 electro-optical/infrared-guided glide bomb is on course to achieve initial operational capability with the Israel Air and Space Force next year, following a third test campaign earlier this year that saw the 100-km (62-mile) range weapon successfully engage moving, maritime, and time-critical targets. A few more qualification tests are due to be undertaken, with low-rate production just getting under way. At Farnborough 2018, the weapon is being displayed as an option for both the Eurofighter Typhoon and Saab Gripen.

Spice 250 is the latest member of a family of guided bombs that employ inertial midcourse guidance and a sophisticated scene-matching seeker, rendering them immune to GPS jamming or denial and offering single-pixel accuracy. With a circular error of probability (CEP) of less than three meters (10 feet), the Spice 250 has a two-way datalink that allows the pilot to override the weapon’s autonomous systems, which feature algorithms for automatic target identification and prioritization. Spice-250 can even auto-abort if the weapon determines it is heading toward the wrong target.

Rafael (Chalet B15) has also devised a Smart Quad Launcher for the Spice 250 that has the datalink embedded to facilitate integration with the carrier aircraft. Four weapons can be carried on each launcher, allowing an F-16 to carry 16 and an F-15 up to 28. An attack by a four-ship of F-15s could theoretically release 112 independently targeted weapons, sufficient to put a wide-area target set such as an entire airfield out of action in one strike.

Whereas the larger, combat-proven Spice-1000 and -2000 are guidance/wing kits applied to existing 454-kg (1,000-pound) and 907-kg (2,000-pound) warheads, the Spice-250 has a new multi-purpose warhead that can be employed against soft targets such as radar sites, yet has a penetration capability against concrete up to a meter (3-feet) thick.

Rafael and Lockheed Martin announced during Farnborough 2018 a teaming agreement to market the two larger weapons in the U.S. and to foreign military sales customers, with a need for this class of weapon looming as air arms prepare for an era in which symmetric warfare becomes more likely. The two companies worked together earlier on the AGM-142 Have Nap/Popeye missile adopted by the U.S. Air Force.