|Spike: A seriously funky piece of kit.|
It doesn't work as well as it used to. Bloggers are always on the look at for it, and there is a great prestige in being the first to bag a baloney airstrike - and that is something we would know a bit about.
This particular staged bombing matters because it is the same one I referred to in this piece where I go on to describe the alternatives to this military incursion.
It wasn't that there was anything particularly harrowing about that exact story. I just picked one at random, and that was the collateral damage story of the day. It changes very little that it probably isn't true. For every one that isn't true, there are more than a few that are.
The interesting part of the report refers to the use of the Spike miniature Precision Guided Missile (PGM). This does not alter my view very much in that I advocate the use of such munitions in place of artillery and large free fall bombs - not as well as. Without the substitution it makes the use of PGM for propaganda purposes somewhat redundant.
In any case, Israel has still not learned the lessons of Qana or the value of propaganda in such wars. You still can't argue with the needlessly high death toll, or the fact that Israel is firing artillery into Gaza, and the big explosions making the front pages are exactly the kind of backdrop Hamas needs to stage such incidents. Without such, these fakes would seem a lot less credible. In modern warfare, how things appear is every bit as important as how things are. Israel neglects this reality at its own expense.
To me this doesn't make a great deal of sense when there are realistic alternatives available. In 2008, the US Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division stated that Spike was the smallest guided missile in the world and the only missile fitted with an electro-optical imaging strapped-down seeker. Using commercial off-the-shelf components (including an inexpensive uncooled infrared seeker supplied by DRS Technologies) and employing modular construction techniques, the cost goal at that time was USD5,000 per unit - which would also make it the world's cheapest guided missile.
Critics of my thesis that Israel ought to be engaged in a technology and intelligence lead operation very often point to the cost as a stumbling block. At $5000 per unit, even at twice the cost, it's still a better alternative.
Compare this with the ordinance Israel has been using so far. Paveway II laser guidance kits were sold for $12,000 ten years ago, but increased four to seven times higher, when served with improved seekers, electronics and optional GPS, associated with the Paveway III version. Depending on the size of the weapon – ($40,000 for a 1,000 pound and $70,000 for the 2,000 pound warhead). So as it happens, not indiscriminately killing children might actually prove cheaper.