Israeli defense electronics and weapons house Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has added a new precision-guided munition to its portfolio, having unveiled the Spice 250 ER (extended range) at the Aero India show being held at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru February 3-5.
The new weapon is based on the existing Spice 250, a standoff glide weapon in the 250-pound (113-kg) class with a 165-pound multi-effects warhead and pop-out wings that give a glide range of up to 54 nm (100 km). The ER development features a small internal turbojet that runs on JP-8/10 fuel and extends the weapon’s reach to more than 81 miles.
“Spice is combat-proven, with outstanding operational benefits and achievements,” said Alon Shlomi, head of Rafael’s Air-to-Surface systems directorate. “The significantly-enhanced stand-off range will enable pilots greater operational maneuverability, safety, and mission assurance.”
In other aspects, the ER retains the mission planning and guidance systems, and interfaces, of the baseline weapon. It can be launched in swarms to give high attack volumes and uses autonomous scene-matching artificial intelligence algorithms to achieve high accuracies with a CEP of less than 10 feet (3 meters) and a target acquisition probability on the order of 95 percent.
The guidance system allows the missile’s system to "learn" the characteristics of the intended target ahead of the strike. Target characteristics can be pre-loaded into the missile via the mission planning system or be loaded by the aircrew prior to release while the aircraft is in flight. Fly-out is conducted using inertial guidance, before the missile detects and recognizes its target—either autonomously or with a human in the loop—using Advanced Target Acquisition (ATA) and Automatic Target Recognition (ATR) modes. The missile also has a moving target detection capability. By using inertial navigation and ATA/ATR, the Spice 250 is freed from reliance on GPS.
Spice 250 ER has the same form factor and interfaces as the unpowered munition, allowing it to be carried singly on pylons, or on a four-round Smart Quad Rack. The latter enables tactical aircraft to carry large numbers, up to 16 on an F-16 or 28 on an F-15. The ER version requires no additional integration.
Spice 250 is in production for a number of customers, and the ER version is being promoted to the Indian Air Force, which has already bought earlier Spice weapons, including the larger Spice 2000 that was used in combat by Mirage 2000s during the Balakot raid in Pakistan in 2019.