The SPIKE "Firefly" is a disposable, transportable unmanned miniature loitering munition developed and marketed by Raphael of Israel. The system is a Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLoS) over-battlefield solution intended for close-support in urban environments where the enemy can typically be found under cover. The Firefly sports such key qualities as portability, reliability, and durability and is part of the Rafael SPIKE Precision Guided Missile (PGM) family of weapons that includes the SPIKE "LR.2" long-range Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM), SPIKE "NLOS" Non-Line-of-Sight ATGM, SPIKE "ER.2" extended-range ATGM, and SPIKE "SR" infantry-level shoulder-launched ATGM.
Beyond its inherent ground attack function, the Firefly Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) can also be used in the tactical reconnaissance role, enhancing situational awareness at the warfighter level.
The SPIKE system's success is such that it is in use with some thirty-nine operators worldwide and includes Special Forces elements.
The system requires just a single operator and control is through a handheld, rugged tablet-style Control Unit (CU) weighing 2.2lb. Up to three Firefly systems make up part of the complete Firefly kit with a secure datalink providing the CU with direct connection to the UASs. The UAS component weighs in at a manageable 6.6lb which, when coupled to its inherent maneuverability and low operating noise, makes it an ideal close-support anti-infantry weapon. With its duel Electro-Optical (EO), IR, and Color CMOS support, the unit can be operated in both day and night time environments against both stationary and moving targets.
Historically, embedded enemy troops were forced out of position through direct assault or flanking maneuvers by counterparts on the other side. With loitering munition options like the Firefly, casualties are reduced or prevented altogether as the munition goes to work from above.
The Firefly's general arrangement is rather unorthodox, comprised of three segments - upper, lower, and optics set. A pair of twin-bladed propellers are seated at the nose and at midships (in a torque-defeating co-axial arrangement) providing both lift and propulsion. The blades are designed to fold when the unit is stored to reduce its footprint for transport. The whole unit fits inside of a hardened sleeve and can be carried over the infantryman's back. Propulsion power is all-electric and comprised of a removable / replaceable battery pack which provides endurance for a relatively short window of 15 minutes (30 minutes if the warhead is unequipped and replaced with a second battery pack). The optics set is positioned at the tail-end of the aircraft offering unfettered, 360-degree views of the terrain below. Three simple, extending support legs provide traditional undercarriage facilities for the UAS when at rest and are part of the launch and safe return / call-off function. The unit can be flown manually via video / tablet or autonomously through waypoint control.
The proximity-based detonation component of the loitering munition features an integrated dual seeker and target tracker. The payload is of general explosive fragmentation and is completely removable.
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May 2022 - The United States has expressed interest in the SPIKE Firefly loitering munition.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
VERTICAL TAKE-OFF / LANDING (VTOL)
Series has a tactical capability to take-off and / or land vertically, a quality commonly associated with helicopters.
Design utilizes an all-electric powerplant for drive power.
CO-AXIAL MAIN ROTORS
Dual main rotors arranged in co-axial mounting, negating traditional torque-neutralizing tail rotor unit.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Design features autonomous flight operations made possible through onboard artificial intelligence or pre-programming.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
4.3 ft (1.31 m)
4 lb (2 kg)
7 lb (3 kg)
+2 lb (+1 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Rafael SPIKE Firefly production variant)
1 x Electric motor (battery powered) driving 2 x Twin-bladed propeller units in co-axial arrangement.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Rafael SPIKE Firefly production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
SPIKE Firefly - Base Series Name.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from official Rafael Advanced Defense Systems marketing materials.
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