Finland Buys Israeli Missile Tested on Lebanese Civilians
Finland has agreed to purchase an Israeli anti-tank missile that members of UNIFIL's Finnish battalion saw being test-fired against civilian targets in south Lebanon over a 16-month period, reported the Daily Star newspaper.
One Lebanese civilian was killed and at least four others were wounded before the Israeli army declassified the weapon and placed it on the international arms market, said the daily.
The Spike anti-tank missile will equip the Finnish army's high-readiness brigades, once Helsinki has concluded the terms of the $40 million deal with the German-Israeli EuroSpike consortium, said the daily.
The Finnish defense ministry told The Daily Star it was unaware that civilians had been killed and wounded by the Spike but said it was unlikely that the decision to purchase the missile would be reversed.
The Spike is one of three advanced anti-tank weapons developed by Israel's state-owned Rafael armaments company.
The other two weapons are the Gil, a shoulder-fired missile with a range of 2.5 kilometers, and the NT-Dandy also known as Long Spike, which is a long-range missile capable of being fired from ground platforms or helicopter gunships.
The Spike is the medium-range version of the NT-Dandy.
In August 1998, The Daily Star revealed that the Israeli army was testing a new, top secret anti-tank missile in the south, and identified the weapon as probably the NT-Dandy.
In response to the story, Rafael company said that the only anti-tank missile developed by the company was the Gil.
The Spike was declassified by the Israeli Army a year later and the NT-Dandy joined its two smaller versions on the global arms market last November.
In a bid to increase international sales of the weapons system, Rafael formed the EuroSpike consortium with the German companies, STN Atlas, Diehl and Rheinmetal.
According to Jane's Defense Weekly, the hi-tech Spike can be used in a fire-and-forget mode in which the gunner locks the warhead's seeker onto the target and the missile finds its own way there, added the paper.
The first recorded sighting of the Spike/NT-Dandy in south Lebanon was on February 25th 1998, when a missile was fired from the Israeli outpost in Taibe at a civilian car in Majdal Silm.
Three months later, two identical missiles were fired from Taibe at a squad of Amal fighters on the edge of Majdal Silm.
The Taibe outpost was in the center of the area manned by the Finnish UNIFIL battalion, according to the daily - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)