(photo credit: Courtesy)
A target deep behind enemy lines is suddenly vaporized. There is no signature trail to trace, no plane zooming off at Mach 1. Welcome to the world of the "Spice" precision-guided munition (PGM).
Although the officer in charge of the project likens it "to a UFO," it is actually one of the most sophisticated bombs in the Israel Air Force's operational arsenal.
Spice has no engine to give it away to sensors and does not rely on global positioning systems (GPS) to guide it to its target, making it very hard to detect or deflect before its pinpoint impact on target, the officer in charge of the project said Monday.
Instead, digital pictures of the target are downloaded into the computerized guidance system, which then matches the picture to the reality on the ground.
In addition to its incredible accuracy, a fighter plane can be loaded with several Spice bombs which can be programmed to hit different targets despite being launched from the same spot. Once released, Spice glides in to destroy its target, which can be dozens of kilometers away.
Spice is a totally blue and white product, a joint project of the air force and Rafael Armaments Development Authority. While very effective, it is not cheap. It costs more than a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) but is in "a different league," according to the officer in charge. It has twice the range of the American-produced JDAM.
The bomb has been used operationally but no one would confirm it was used in the Second Lebanon War.
Meanwhile, senior air force officers have confirmed that development of the Arrow 3 missile defense system is proceeding. The Arrow 3 would intercept cruise missiles, such as Iran's Shihab 3, even farther out than the Arrow 2 does now. The officers also said that the air force was considering upgrading its Patriot missile systems to the Pac3, but that, in any event, some upgrading of the current systems was needed to keep them running smoothly into the future.