The Israel Air Force's Popeye and Spice Missiles - a Primer

If Israel has attacked Syrian weapons heading for Lebanon, as foreign sources say it has, the planes may have used 'standoff' missiles.'

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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The Israel Air Force possesses so-called standoff missiles that pilots can launch from far enough away without needing to fear anti-aircraft fire.

According to reports in the Western press, Israel has attacked Syrian weapons heading for Lebanon's Hezbollah both in late January and late last week. Both attacks were reportedly carried out from Lebanese airspace.

The Popeye air-to-surface standoff missile, for example, homes in on a target using a television camera or infrared sensor on the warhead.

Popeye missiles have been adapted for use by Israeli F-15 Falcon and Thunder fighter jets. According to the website of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, which makes the missile, the Popeye is extremely accurate and can operate by day or night and in severe weather.

Another standoff missile made by Rafael is the Spice, an acronym for smart, precise impact, cost-effective. The Spice excels at comparing the target as entered into the missile’s computer and the situation on the ground.

The Spice has two models; the most advanced is the Spice 2000, which can operate without a GPS system and is not vulnerable to jamming or deflection technology. Spice missiles can be launched from 60 kilometers away.

Popeye missileCredit: Tal Inbar