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Rafael unveils SPICE smart missile with turbojet engine

Photo: Rafael

Israeli defense company Rafael has unveiled a new variant of its SPICE air-to-surface missile that boasts an increased range thanks to the integration of an aerojet engine.

Dubbed SPICE 250 ER (extended range), the missile was unveiled at the Aero India 2021 exhibition and is based on the smallest member of the family of SPICE missiles.

SPICE 250 ER will incorporate a miniature turbo-jet engine with an internal JP-8/10 fuel system, providing the weapon a range of at least 150 km, while retaining the same mission-planning system, aircraft interfaces and aircrew operation.

SPICE is a stand-off, autonomous, air-to-surface weapon systems that strikes targets independently of GPS navigation, based on its autonomous electro-optic scene-matching artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

The latest munition uses a common aircraft interface and sophisticated smart quad rack (SQR) which simplifies the effort needed for aircraft integration. Four SPICE 250 weapons are carried on each SQR. SPICE 250 can be directly mounted on light attack aircraft store stations, thanks to its small size and light weight.

The SPICE 250 ER retains the identical external form-factor as the gliding variant using all existing SQR and aircraft interfaces, enabling the same load-out. The extended-range variant also features the same capabilities as the gliding variant, including automatic target recognition and acquisition (ATR).

The ATR feature is a technological breakthrough, Rafael says, enabling SPICE 250 ER to effectively learn the specific target characteristics ahead of the strike, using advanced AI and deep-learning technologies.

Before or during flight, target type, location and strike characteristics are defined for each weapon, either by the automated mission-planning or by the pilot. The weapons fly towards the targets, using their INS for initial navigation. When approaching the target area, the weapons use their ATA and ATR modes for detection and recognition of the targets and precise aim-point. Each weapon homes-in on the pre-defined target, either autonomously or with a human-in-the-loop, aided by the ATR algorithm.