Why North Korea Really Really Wants This Israeli Missile

July 19, 2021 Topic: North Korean Army Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Reboot Tags: North KoreaMilitaryTechnologyWorldSpike MissileTank

Why North Korea Really Really Wants This Israeli Missile

The real (and better) Spike missile has been sold to South Korea.

Key point: North Korea has unveiled what looks like a long-range anti-tank missile.

This comes two years after North Korea revealed another missile that it claimed could turn enemy tanks into "boiled pumpkins."

This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Photos of the latest weapon show eight box-like missile launchers on an M-2010, a six-wheeled North Korean armored personnel carrier. "As one can judge, this system is a kind of analogue of the modern versions of the Israeli long-range anti-tank missile system Rafael Spike-ER and similar systems created in Japan (Type 96), China (AFT-10), Serbia (ALAS), and the like," says a Russian-language defense blog (Google translation and photos here). "Presumably, the missile uses an electro-optical targeting head in combination with command guidance over a fiber-optic cable (the antenna of the radio command system used in Israeli Spike-NLOS is not visible on the launcher of the North Korean complex)."

Israel's Spike has become of the more popular anti-tank missiles, used by more than 20 nations. Spike is a family of missiles, including short-, medium- and long-range versions, as well as the Spike-NLOS, which can engage targets out of line of sight, out to 25 kilometers (15 miles). It is a fire-and-forget weapon in which the missile is initially guided by the operator through a fiber-optic cable before switching to onboard infrared homing. It is armed with a tandem warhead in which the first warhead detonates any explosive armor on a tank, allowing the second charge to penetrate the target.

The Spike-ER [Extended Range] can hit targets 8 kilometers (5 miles) away. Israeli manufacturer Rafael unveiled the Spike-ER2 last month, with a radio datalink to extend the range out to 16 kilometers (10 miles).

That sounds like a far cry from North Korea's notorious pumpkin-izer missile, which was apparently based on the 1970s Soviet AT-4 (NATO code name "Spigot") wire-guided anti-tank weapon, though with a laser guidance system. North Korean leaders "noted with great satisfaction that even the special armored tanks and cars of the enemies which boast their high maneuverability and striking power are no more than a boiled pumpkin before the anti-tank guided weapon," proclaimed the North Korean press in 2016.

How North Korea accomplished this miracle of physics was never clear. Similarly, while Pyongyang has revealed what appears to be a vehicle-mounted anti-tank missile, its capabilities are unknown but are unlikely to match the Spike's.

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Nonetheless, any anti-tank missile is dangerous even against modern armor with anti-rocket defenses, if they hit the right spot or enough missiles are fired at the target.

Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Image: Flickr.