For the first time, an unmanned vessel has successfully fired a Spike missile during an exercise.
The missile was one of several fired from a Protector unmanned surface vehicle during a test in December by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. that hit simulated enemy targets. The Protector is one of the Navy’s unmanned ships that is used alongside manned gunships and patrol boats to guard the country’s coasts.
“This new capability allows pin-point attack of land or naval targets, enabling safe vessel operation, with no risk to the operating force, from a remote command and control room or from aboard other naval platforms,” the company said in a statement.
The test-firing demonstrates Protector’s side array of capabilities and applications, said Moshe Elazar, head of Rafael’s Land and Naval Systems Division, emphasizing the vast international potential for unmanned surface vehicles and the need for protection of critical strategic naval assets such as ports and rigs.
“These assets are vulnerable to sabotage or terrorism, and the damage that can be inflicted can, in some cases, be catastrophic,” Elazar said. “Protector’s capabilities are a major force multiplier for navies, for detection, deterrence and finally neutralization of the threat.”
The test completes the operational integration process of Protector’s entire suite of mission components, including the Mini-Typhoon stabilized weapon stations; a water cannon for non-lethal missions; EW systems for protecting and escorting of naval vessels; MCM; electro- optical long-range detection and tracking systems; and the Spike missiles.
All the systems are remotely operated.