Vehicle Mounted Anti Tank Missiles

Vehicle launched anti tank missiles are a particular hobby horse of mine, don’t ask why, I don’t know!

Looking back over the FRES series we used to have a rather interesting capability with the Swingfire missile and Striker vehicle.

Of all the CVR(T) variants, Striker was arguably the most ingenious.

Intended to provide anti tank top cover for the other variants it was equipped with a launch system for the Swingfire anti tank guided missile.

After the cancellation of the Orange William missile in 1959 Fairey had continued development work on wire guided anti tank missiles and this would result in Swingfire. Introduced in 1969, Swingfire was a brute of a missile. The warhead weighed in at 7kg alone and it had a couple of unique features that set it apart from its rivals.

Upon launch, it could immediately switch direction by 90 degrees using a ‘jetivator’  and the sighting equipment could be dismounted to a distance of 30m and 15m higher or lower, thus, the launch vehicle could be advantageously placed for concealment. With the missile launcher in the stowed position Striker looked like just another armoured personnel carrier, not the lethal anti tank machine it was.

CVR(T) FV102 Striker
CVR(T) FV102 Striker
Swingfire Missile
Swingfire Missile – 90 degree turn after launch
Swingfire Missile
Swingfire Missile

The vehicle could carry 5 missiles in ready to launch boxes with an additional  5 stowed in the hull.

In true Research Establishment fashion, the boffins determined that the kill probability of each Swingfire was 40% so it would take precisely two and a half missiles to kill each enemy tank, also that a vehicle engaging enemy tanks with ATGW would only kill two before itself being destroyed.

Therefore five missiles were all that needed to be fitted (or so the story went)

Swingfire also found its way onto a number of heavy and lightweight platforms, the FV438, various Land Rovers and other light vehicles.

FV 438
FV 438
Swingfire Missile
Swingfire Missile

Most of the alternative platforms were mostly trials vehicles or did not stay in service that long but Striker endured and saw service in the Middle East in 1991 and 2003. In both operations it was judged to be a success, the Lessons Learned compendium for Operation TELIC made a specific recommendation to review the out of service date.

CVR(T) FV102 Striker Iraq 1991
CVR(T) FV102 Striker Iraq 1991
FV102 CVR(T) Striker in Iraq 2003
FV102 CVR(T) Striker in Iraq 2003

In 1986 the FV120 Spartan Milan Compact Turret (MCT) variant was introduced, although Milan’s maximum range of 2,000m was a significant step down from Swingfire at 4,000m.

CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret
CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret
CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret
CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret

To compensate for the lack of FV438 in armoured infantry a number of Milan firing posts were, basically, welded to the turret tops of Warriors in 2003.

FV510 Warrrior Iraq with Milan firing post
FV510 Warrrior Iraq with Milan firing post

FFLAV defined a requirement for an anti tank missile carrier and so did TRACER, TRACER going so far as demonstrating a mockup equipped with Brimstone missiles.

Lancer TRACER vehicle with Brimstone missile launcher for Anti Tank Overwatch
Lancer TRACER vehicle with Brimstone missile launcher for Anti Tank Overwatch

The GKN ‘Stealth Warrior’ was also shown with a missile carrying turret.

Stealth Recce Warrior 1998
Stealth Recce Warrior 1998

Stormer 30 took a similar missile armed turret approach.

Stormer 30
Stormer 30

FRES also specified an anti tank missile carrying variant called Overwatch.

With the original vision for FRES pretty much dead and buried and the Swingfire and Milan missiles long out of service the Army does not have anything comparable to Striker or FV438 in service and no plans for an equivalent either.

The concept it seems is dead and buried, at least for the British Army.

Perhaps the argument is that with the increasing availability of precision fires from land, air and even sea, there is no longer a need but, operational experience and reams of analysis would seem to have a different opinion and the gapping of this capability a big mistake?

In other nations armed forces Hellfire has been used in a number ground launched guises, as these examples show

Hellfire II Ground Launched Pandhur 6x6
Hellfire II Ground Launched Pandhur 6×6
Hellfire missile launch from a HUMVEE
Hellfire missile launch from a HUMVEE

The venerable TOW missile continues to be upgraded and mounted on a number of armoured and lightweight vehicles. The latest version reportedly has a 7km plus range and much shorter flight time.

TOW Missile
TOW Missile
Stryker TOW Missile
Stryker TOW Missile
Bradley TOW Missile
Bradley TOW Missile

There was even a concept of mounting TOW on a Spartan

Spartan TOW Missile
Spartan TOW Missile

The German Cold War concept of elevating HOT missiles on the Jagdleopard or Panther was born of the notion that total control of the air was not a given.

Jagdleopard elevating platform for HOT Anti Tank Missiles
Jagdleopard elevating platform for HOT Anti Tank Missiles
EPLA and HOT Missile on elevating platform
EPLA and HOT Missile on elevating platform
Jagdleopard elevating platform for HOT Anti Tank Missiles
Jagdleopard elevating platform for HOT Anti Tank Missiles

Lots of interesting stuff but as I mentioned above, the concept of a dedicated anti tank missile carrier seems like yesterdays news (apart from for US forces that is)

Which brings us up to date.

There seems to have a cluster of trials and announcements on the subject of vehicle mounted anti tank missiles.

The first out of the traps was the Long Range Surveillance and Attack Vehicle (LRSAV) from Lockheed Martin.

This combined a Stryker, an elevating sensor mast with laser designator and a missile combination of the hard hitting Hellfire II for armoured targets and the DAGR guided 70mm rocket for smaller or non armoured targets.

From the press release.

The LRSAV is a fully integrated, turreted, ground-vehicle weapon system. It uses advanced missile and weapon control-system technologies and a newly developed 15-inch, spherical, mast-mounted electro-optical/infrared sensor to enable targeting and employment of missiles from a wide range of surface platforms.

During the tests, the vehicle-mounted LRSAV system launched a HELLFIRE II missile from 6.4 km and a DAGR missile from 3.5 km. Both missiles successfully impacted their targets. In both tests, missile lock-on-before-launch and lock-on-after-launch capabilities were used to demonstrate LRSAV’s flexibility for various engagement scenarios. Additionally, an AH-64D Apache helicopter equipped with Lockheed Martin’s Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor (M-TADS/PNVS) was used to remotely designate the short-range target, validating LRSAV’s cooperative battlefield-engagement capability.

The tests confirm that the LRSAV weapon system is a low risk solution that can support multiple missions. Lockheed Martin’s LRSAV weapon system delivers a superior capability that will engage targets from safe standoff distances, and enhanced performance for increased mission success, survivability and low collateral damage.

Lockheed Martin then followed that up with a couple of Javelin firing trials that used two different vehicles and launch configurations.

A lightweight launcher on a TAPV vehicle and a heavier system on a Boxer, the latter being test fired in the UK [Insert FRES rumour here]

At the moment we require Javelin teams to dismount and the ability to use Striker/Swingfire from cover using remote targeting equipment is a capability we longer have.

These solutions from Lockheed Martin would seem to offer a relatively low risk method of getting back the offboard designation, fire from cover and under armour capability.

Instead of Hellfire II and DAGR a UK version could equally use Hellfire II, or Brimstone, paired with the Lightweight Multi-Role Missile (LMM) which has only recently been subject to a $48 million order from the MoD for Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters.

Wildcat Helicopter and FASGW-L (Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile LMM)
Wildcat Helicopter and FASGW-L (Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile LMM)

Thales have proposed a number of seekers for LMM as alternatives to the current beam riding version, including GPS, which might make for an interesting non line of sight weapon out to 8km.

Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)
Thales Lightweight Multirole Missile (LMM)

Such a system could even make use of the Exactor missile system, the SPIKE NLOS, now in service.

Spike NLOS Tracked Vehicle 02
Spike NLOS Tracked Vehicle

As Jean Luc might say

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85 Responses

  1. Having looked at some of the systems available and their suitability for vehicle launch, I think Spike/Eurospike has advantages. Rafael is pushing the slightly unusual side-launch system on a Plasan Sandcat: and has taken an M113 roof-mount version to the odd trade show:

    Back in the late 80s/early 90s the shiny new two-sizes-fit-all missile was TRIGAT ( – intended as an infantry weapon (TRIGAT-MR), vehicle launch and helicopter launch (TRIGAT-LR fitted to German Tigers?) It never seemed to gain the market share the developers said it would. Presumably its now part of MBDA’s heritage and may influence their new designs.

  2. EXACTOR and Brimstone are proven.

    LMM is promising but isn’t proven, however how well has HVM performed?

  3. Ignoring long range, heli platform or indirect fire, different requirements and not a substitute, it has be autonomous, ie target acquisition and engagement conducted by the detachment, and instantly available 24×7, in essence a direct fire system, albeit stretching that term a bit. Include remote targeting as with Swingfire but a bit more separation available. It must also use a top attack warhead. Control should be automatic once the target has been designated, ideally after designation the operator would hand off to the msl, but this might be either expensive or vulnerable to jamming depending on the technology used. Range probably doesn’t need to be more than about 8-10km. There’s a bit of trade-off here between missile size and onboard msl stock with a reasonable size vehicle, ie suitable for combat zone use – tracked and simple.

  4. Nice photo of the Land Rover with the Swingfire.

    One of my big worries is that with more anti-missile systems coming out, the effectiveness of missiles may have been blunted badly.

  5. Obs – like all these things there is always a counter to any capability – consider the ‘MBT is obsolete’ exchange that’s been covered in the past couple of days. Or the ‘Light Armour is useless’ argument that rages constantly. Or the ‘Why bother with land vehicles; helicopters are better at everything use them instead’ theory. Yes the relative supremacy of ATGW has been reduced, but I doubt the anti-missile-missiles are 100% effective, and not every enemy would have every item of armour fitted with active anti-missile measures. So I think there is still room for ATGW even if its not the wonder-weapon it once was.

  6. Well, that’s true, and there are also times when the anti-missile system is offline, like in a tank laager, so there will be windows of opportunity. Still a pain if your force is designed to be missile heavy though. :(

  7. And, also, there are other things to use ATGW for than blowing up tanks – see experience in Afghanistan for the last 12 years. If there aren’t any tanks around, it might be nice to have the ability to blow up, say, a threatening building or bunker from 2000m or more away without having to dismount and set up your Javelin.

  8. Let’s not forget that these things can be turned into multi-purpose uses, substituting for other. less mobile weapon systems, e.g. the venerable TOW
    “The tube-launched, optically tracked, wireless-guided (TOW) is an anti-tank and precision-assault missile system produced by Raytheon Missile Systems. The capability to fire advanced TOW 2A, TOW 2B, TOW 2B Aero and TOW Bunker Buster missiles makes the TOW one of the best weapon systems in the world.

    The TOW missile system is used by more than 40 international military forces and installed on more than 15,000 ground-based and helicopter platforms. The system is widely deployed by the US armed forces on platforms such as Stryker, Bradley and HMMWV armoured vehicles.

    The latest TOW missile versions use a radio command link in place of a wire guidance system. The missiles can also be fitted with tandem or explosively formed penetrator (EFP) warheads. The TOW2 missiles are launched from land-based tri-pods, vehicles and helicopters for a maximum range of 4.5km.”
    says the

    For high-mobility formations these can, indeed, be the only “direct fire” weapons with a longer range (mortars being “luggable” but not exactly direct fire):

  9. TD – Heard a good dit from an MBDA bloke about those raised firing platforms. Idea being that ze Germans would hide behind buildings and poke the missiles over the top to target the Soviet hordes from cover.

    So they set up a very long, narrow test range and prepped the thing for a trial live firing. My memory gets hazy at this point, but there was some kind of malfunction and brakes on the rotating turret at the top of the arm failed. So when the rocket motor ignited the whole thing slewed off to the left and the missile went nowhere.
    The German range warden had a severe sense of humour failure, as there was now an entire launcher of ATGMs pointed at the neighbouring village. Where he lived and his kids went to school…

    As for the present day, we have enough clever missiles in our Complex Weapons inventory that something should tick the right box without needing to buy something new. We’re doing fairly well at bringing in some commonality and anything Thales/MBDA generally brings in some UK workshare, which is always good.

  10. I think sitting in that metal tub firing HOT missiles could qualify as the shittest job of the cold war!

    Complex Weapons are indeed a bright spot for the UK but I still think we are failing to utilise their qualities to the maximum potential.

    Would like to see the Striker qualities of guidance from outside the vehicle, fire from cover and protected mobility

    The elevating feature is interesting because it was born of a notion that air dominance was not a given, are we wrongly assuming such now?

    Putting LMM and Brimstone 2 on the same vehicle with an elevating mast sensor I think would provide a very useful capability

  11. ACC, they should pay you commission. :P

    a, that’s true, though personally I would deplore the wastage. ATGMs are rare, not only expensive. It would be a bit sad to finish firing your 12 round loadout at infantry strongpoints only to see an IFV come round the corner. Many armies only have about 10-20 rounds per launcher which is why most will keep holding them until the primary target shows up. The US is a bit of a different case, they are big enough and “rich” enough as well as the primary supplier to afford wastage. Many other countries don’t have that luxury.

  12. Observer,

    ‘It would be a bit sad to finish firing your 12 round loadout at infantry strongpoints only to see an IFV come round the corner’
    You would develop warheads suitable for the task and load out as appropriate , so bunker busting rounds etc rather than anti armour, it’s the guidance and mobility of the system that are its advantages couple it with multi use warheads and your onto a winner.

    I still think we should reintroduce the Charlie G for the same reason.

  13. DN, if you’re poor, you can’t afford to get the whole range, which is the situation for a lot of the planet. Despite the complaints about the UK’s budget, it is actually fairly decent and more importantly spent (fairly) wisely. You get the round which is the primary job for the role of the weapon you bought it for. Or get a general purpose round.

    Let me put it in another way. You only got 10-20 rounds for your weapon and that is it. Are you going to use them on infantry if people were counting on you to be the unit’s primary anti-tank defence?

    That is also the reason I like the 84. You use them to bust buildings and save the AT missiles for when you really need them.

    Of course, if the strongpoint was really jamming up your advance, I might advocate the use of an ATGM to break the deadlock, but not as the solution for it all the time.

  14. DN, I was deploring the wastage of flushing ATGMs all over the place if you have a limited supply, not complaining about their technical capabilities. One is a technical “problem”, the other is an economical and logistical problem.

    ATGMs are simply valuable due to their rarity, and if you are saving them to meet the “big threat”, your usage of them is naturally confined, so yes you can use them as bunker busters, but no you should not do it too often lest you run out when you need it the most.

  15. Observer,

    If you use an ATGM against a fortified position it’s the warhead you are using inappropriately not the system. If you had a range of warheads you would use the required version for the job. The ATGM has the advantage of range over the likes of Charlie G and it has precision over our current mortar rounds.

  16. “the boffins determined that the kill probability of each Swingfire was 40% so it would take precisely two and a half missiles to kill each enemy tank, also that a vehicle engaging enemy tanks with ATGW would only kill two before itself being destroyed.”

    Always wondered why they didn’t just stick another five firing boxes on top of the existing five on the Striker, I’m sure in the Gulf the extra few rounds would’ve been a confidence booster.

  17. DN, you obviously work in an army flushed with resources. Many places do NOT have the luxury of being able to buy the whole range of warheads. And I think you miss the point of my thinking. I never said anything about a deficient or otherwise warhead, my point was that any army or vehicle has only a limited number of ATGMs, not the warhead but the booster itself, and while you can use it in roles it was not intended for, you need to keep some in reserve to do your primary job, which means that you can’t simply fire them off on infantry targets, only in unavoidable situations.

  18. Observer,
    ‘vehicle has only a limited number of ATGM’

    You only carry a limited number of anything, the fact you can have a warhead that is designed for the task that you want to achieve does not change that. You tailor your load to your requirement and a warhead optimised to bunker busting etc is just another string to your bow.

    ‘you obviously work in an army flushed with resources’

    Maybe you should pay more tax? ;-)

  19. DN, you know that some armies only have 10-20 units per launcher for their WHOLE army? Nothing to do with carry capacity, but more to do with economic situation and logistics. You are assuming an unending supply of ammo and optional warhead and fusing options. Many countries do NOT have that much. The US and UK and honestly me as well are fortunate in that we have the funding for a lot of things, many other countries do not.

  20. Observer,

    We are not talking about other nations, the article is about the withdrawal of Swingfire from the UK armed forces and possible replacement.

    ‘ you know that some armies only have 10-20 units per launcher for their WHOLE army?’

    Good, it’s called overmatch for a reason.

  21. I’ll give you an example from the Spike ATGM contracts.

    Total 2,800 missiles, breakdown being 2,600 Spike-LR with remaining 200 being Spike-ER.[21] 236 Spike LR launchers

    1:11.8 ratio

    Total 4,000 Spike-LR missiles,[21] 311 LR launchers on Puma vehicles

    1:12.8 ratio

    Total 700 missiles, breakdown being 300 Spike-MR with the remaining 400 being Spike-ER.[21] 100 MR (Panssarintorjunta-ohjus 2000) launchers

    1:7 ratio

    You only got 10 rounds per launcher. Use them all and that is it. And if you spent them on infantry before the tanks show up… I’d say “good luck” but if the result was your own inability to control usage, then the end result is well deserved.


    Sigh… now I finally figured out the cross purpose talk. DN, I was talking in general, not specifically about Swingfire. If you were, then good for you to have so many missiles on hand.

  22. TD and others

    I am interested in what exactly the future arrangement for mounting the Exactor will be. We have been told that it has been accepted into core but that still leaves quite a few questions unanswered.

    In Afghanistan it was used on the M113 but the latest ideas circulating seem to be that it will be fitted on a smaller, more easily deployed, expeditionary-type vehicle. The difficulty with my accepting that is that it will normally be part of heavy artillery formations (alongside AS 90 and GMLRS). At least I assume that is the thinking. So how would a smaller vehicle fit in with that concept?

    I suppose it could be fitted to FRES SV There has been some talk of an anti-tank version of that. However, we would still be faced with the problem of FRES SV’s weight and its ease, or otherwise, of deployability.

  23. Observer,

    All the the rounds you quoted are Anti-Tank, I said if you optimised the warhead for its purpose ie destroying bunkers (HE, blast etc) you would not need to use an Anti-Tank round. Rafael have already developed a light weight missile for the spike launcher optimised for Anti Personnel and structures.

    Like I said its the mobility and precision of the system that is it’s benefit, put whatever warhead on the round you want.

  24. I never recommended AT rounds to be used on bunkers. In fact I VERY SPECIFICALLY stated that I would regret the wastage.


    My guess is that it will be a battery by itself, most artillery don’t mix too well, e.g you don’t see AS90s running with GMLRS, so integration probably won’t be a problem. I suspect that they will be attached to UAV/UAS units as their “reaction fire” arm.

  25. Observer,

    ‘In fact I VERY SPECIFICALLY stated that I would regret the wastage.’

    No need to shout because you are having trouble following a conversation, deep breaths in through the nose out through the mouth.

    To avoid the wastage use a different warhead.

  26. Obs, as DN says: mobility, accuracy and *reach*. Theyare specialist weapons, as long as you have some in the right place, at the right time, the 1:10 is ,if you don’thave them at all (no tanks, heavy arty, CAS), then the term is d**p sh@tasfor the location..
    – just to illustrate, as you mentioned Finland there
    – all the ERs would be expended on shipping/LCPs/ hovercraft
    – the rest arefor the northern areas where you get open spaces akin to Scotland
    – where else do youget to shoot over 4+ km? No deserts.

    The next level AT weapons would have a zero added to their number; the next one another zero to that (as they are carruied as an insurance to being in a situation where the platoon or squad is temporarily on its own.
    No need to get hung up on the unit ost of the sharp tip of the spear. Iunderstand you are coming from the angle of kitting out anumerous conscripted force. The bright side is that they don’t go expeditionary, so a lot of the specialist kit needs a zero budget.

  27. Mike, after the SDSR (when the multi-bdes were alkve and kicking, as an idea) there was a lot of emphasis on all arty x-tRaining between heavy and light.

    I think this is just a new variation to the theme: you would always take the precision fires when you go, but only the type of guns needed for the campaign. How many AS-90s in Afghan?

  28. Observer

    “My guess is that it will be a battery by itself, most artillery don’t mix too well, e.g you don’t see AS90s running with GMLRS, so integration probably won’t be a problem.”

    Many thanks for your reply. Seems to make a good deal of sense. One of the reasons I posted, though, is that AS90s have been lumped in with GMLRS (in the same regiments) under Army 2020. Thought perhaps that Exactor would be inextricably attached to such regiments and would not have much autonomy. Anyway, making them a “reaction fire” arm seems to make sense.

  29. Never got around to asking TD about his use of “dedicated” vehicles in the US army… So the Stryker version made it to service?

    Another detail that caught my eye was the piccie of a CVRT missile version with (apparently) a huge cable reel, with a smaller one dispensing from it. Or was it something totally else on top of the missile compartment?

  30. With the upcoming need to rebuild Apache with new airframes, perhaps Longbow and missile racks on a mast wouldn’t be too bad an idea. SV common base platform, or maybe there’s a handful of spare trucks knocking about. The pilots probably wouldn’t be best pleased about having to ‘fly’ a 4 tonner around though.

    And perhaps while we’re at it, gut a few of the remaining Apache to stick the weapons package onto a cheaper airframe for when we have the sky to ourselves – whether a small attack aircraft like a Tucano, or a gunship like the Jordanian’s recent purchase of an Apache in a C235.

  31. Two remarks:

    (1) Operational Research from the Cold War yielded the result that SACLOS with wire guided (and thus slow) missiles would have a break-even against MBTs at 2,000 m – being inferior at shorter ranges. Too bad most combat was expected to happen at less than 2,000 m. The latter explains why there are so many ATGMs for the infantry with smaller ranges (ERYX being an extreme example). Classic ATGMs are unsatisfactory, but often the only system of acceptable weight and range for the purpose.

    (2) ATGM launchers can in principle be used to launch ‘dumb’ rockets for blast or flechette effects. I know no such example in service, albeit the Americans with their gun-launched Shillelagh paired it with a dumb round. The Russians have a love affair with the concept of missiles with thermobaric warheads, though.

    ATGMs with wire guidance have the wires inside the missile, and release the wires in such a fashion that minimal mechanical loads are applied (the wire basically only drops).
    Whatever cable reels carried would be for spaced emplacement of launchers (up to 60 m or so) or for field telephone purposes (radio silence is quite useful for ambushers, and cables are needed to set up the emitter with spacing to the actual bivouac just in case someone triangulates).

  32. TD,

    What’s interesting is much less expensive a TOW launcher on a Humvee is versus SWINGFIRE on a Striker. The economics of defeating tanks is massively skewed in favour of modern missiles versus modern battle tanks at $75,000 per missile versus £7.5 million per tank (approx. price of LeClerc and Ariete). I don’t know what NLAW costs, but I think it must be at least 50% less than JAVELIN.

    WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOU DO A SERIES ON ATGWs – History, evolution and future prospects

  33. Monty, but you are assuming a one shot one kill. In Op Cast Lead, some of the results were:

    “IDF sources initially estimated that at least 500 ATGMs were fired during the fighting. They reported that a total of 60 armored vehicles of all types (reports these were all tanks are wrong) had been hit as of August 11th. Most continued to operate or were rapidly repaired in the field and restored to service. Only 5-6 of all types represented a lasting vehicle kill.”

    “– Some 50 Merkava 2, 3, and 4s were hit, and 21 were penetrated. A total of 11 did not result in fatalities, but 10 other penetrations caused 23 crew casualties. ATGMs also produced major infantry casualties, particularly when IDF reservists bunched inside a building hit by an ATGM (14 infantrymen were killed by ATGMs fired at buildings).”

    The 500 rounds/60 hits may not be an accurate estimate as it was later noted that the missiles may not have been fired at tanks but at infantry, or that there may have been an SOP to double tap tanks

    What is more interesting is that of the 50 tanks that were hit, only 21 were penetrated and out of that 21, only 10 had casualties which might have taken them out of the battle.

    This implies that you need a 5:1 ratio of missile to tank to knock it out, one of the worries I reflected above.

  34. Just because TD would be upset if I didn’t say it:

    120 mm breach loading mortar firing something like IAI LAHAT


  35. I reckon 40% kill rate for Swingfire was optimistic, it was a ‘fly-by-thumb’ system and while some training results were excellent (particularly once it was in the hands of creative RHA battery commanders) I fear that battlefield reality would have been different.

    Who the operators are and their tactical thinking affects range, infantry operated weapons, basically self-defence, mean thy are really only interested in the shorter ranges. Independent anti-tank batteries deployed for aggressive AFV killing (start with the FLAK vehicles as the highest priority) have a different perspective.

  36. Note, too, the South African ZT3 mounted atop a Ratel AFV. These were used in combat in Angola in 1987/88 and did pretty well, after some initial teething problems. I was nearby at the time, and the story’s an amusing one.

    The first ZT3-equipped Ratels apparently used missiles from a pre-production run, which weren’t properly ‘tuned’. Instead of guiding along the laser beam to the target, they aimed straight up towards the sun. This resulted in some annoyed birds and Cuban T-55’s and T-62’s getting very aggressive towards the Ratels, which had to retreat in a hurry (to the accompaniment of some interesting language). The next batch of missiles (hurriedly flown up within a day or two) worked much better. They blew the turrets clean off more than one Soviet-sourced tank, and their range of over 5 km. meant that they could sometimes be deployed beyond the ability of T-55 and T-62 series tanks to respond effectively (although in bush warfare ranges were typically closer).

    The ZT3 was later developed into the Ingwe missile. and forms the foundation for the soon-to-be-deployed Mokopa air-to-ground ATGW (similar to the US Hellfire).

  37. TD as your a self confessed Striker / Swingfire fan boy is the time to back into the dedicated AT over watch vehicle versus “a Javelin on every turret (or RWS)” debate ?

    Personally I am for the later.

    Striker made sense in its day; but would not having 1 or 2 Javelin “up” on every FREE Scout and / or Warrior IFV make more sense for an overtly expeditionary, offensive and manouvre based doctrine; where meeting engagements are more likely than defensive ambushes ??

  38. I think whatever missile you stick on a vehicle ought to be the same as what your infantry carries, so as to simplify logistics. Not too many, either, otherwise all your interior space will end up taken up with missiles that you will seldom use.
    A dedicated vehicle, on the other hand, probably ought to carry a decent number of longer ranged, bigger and multi-purpose weapons, either in a VLS or a launcher with reloads. Hellfire or similar seems quite sensible in that regard. Even better if you can fire it from out of line-of-sight (Spike NLOS), and better still if the vehicle can also launch small UAVs to reconnoitre for its shots, although most shots would be cued by forwards vehicles.
    Eschewing one or the other will leave gaps. Shorter ranged missiles suitable for adding to all fighting vehicles will leave you with little or no overwatch. It must be remembered that Javelin and similar fire-and-forget missiles needs time to cool down and lock on, though you might be able to mitigate that on a vehicle mount.
    Only having overwatch vehicles means you may still be out of range, not in position to assist, terrain limitations etc.

  39. Observer,

    You make a very good point. I would say two things in response. First, even if you fire 5 x ATGWs per tank kill (at a cost of approximately $3 million in missiles versus $6 million per tank) you still have an advantage. Second, I don’t know how familiar you are with Javelin but it is an excellent system. While the missile is incredibly smart, a true fire-and-forget system, the simulator is equally good, so ensures you set yourself up for good kills. I am not saying that only one missile will be required – you may well hit a tank, but need a second shot to fully disable it and the crew – but even 2 x Javelins gives you an economic advantage. NLAW will neutralise just about any existing APC with a single round. The latest generation of missiles in service already have a degree of sophistication that makes previous generations look archaic.

    Newer ATGW systems under development combined with new Fire Control systems, seem as though they will be even better. You will have a 4,000+ range and mega tandem or triple HEAT warheads. There is still much life left in the HEAT concept. You’ll be able to engage tank targets long before they will be able to engage you. Mounting such systems in Apache or a Jackal will provide a truly impressive capability across a range of platforms. Thus, the concept of mounting RPGs and ATGWs on small vehicles will become an even more cost-efficient means of defeating armoured vehicles than it is already. I willingly concede that the best MBTs will probably need to be taken out with 120mm APFSDS fin rounds – you need the kinetic effect of a long rod penetrator. But for IFVs, 8x8s and a raft of armour lesser protected vehicles, ATGWs will do an excellent job.

    Going back to Striker. I think it was a brilliant idea. In fact, it still is. The concept of an ATGW overwatch vehicle with a 4,000 m range is still extremely valid. I’d like to see a modern interpretation of Striker on a FRES SV. I see such a vehicle being the land equivalent of an F-35 with the ability to engage multiple targets out of line-of-sight. UAVs will do the target acquisition and laser designation.


    Most ATGW primary missile motors don’t kick in until it has travelled 70-100 metres. This is to protect the firer (and the paint work on the vehicle) .

  40. Had a quick look if SPIKE ER or Brimstone would shoe horn in to a Striker; unfortunately not. Swingfire is a surprisingly short missile – weight and diameter appear to be comparable with SPIKE ER but its too long. A pity as an all terrain lightly armoured airtranportable anti-tank/PGM vehicle would be ideal for a number of roles, such as rapid deployment.

  41. Interesting stuff. But maybe I’ve missed something. We have Exactor right? Or is it that we want a European solution? I’m a fan of Hellfire/Brimstone, especially as they are also being proven in the naval arena.

    I still don’t get why precision-guided artillery/mortars hasn’t caught on. Copperhead has been around for ages. Is it about the laser designation? Happy to be enlightened!

    @Brian Black not sure about Longbow on a mast (too short?), but whack it on a blimp for base defence and you might have better coverage. Or a stabilised laser designator for Copperhead as noted above.

  42. Exactor isn’t quite the same thing as Hellfire/Brimstone/SPIKE-ER.

    It’s SPIKE NLOS intended for precision strikes at up to artillery ranges (25km).

  43. Fair point, with that in mind do you think it’s a suitable adjunct to javelin and replacement for swingfire? I mean, is there a requirement for anything else?

  44. Dom, some reasons why 120mm laser guided have not really caught on are

    1) Range. 8km isn’t exactly a lot of coverage, so you either usually have something bigger in range or mortar being out of range and need to creep in a lot closer before it can engage.

    2) Role. Mortars are usually used to soften up area targets before an assault. You don’t need to drop the round down a hatch, you just need it to mess up the area, so the pinpoint precision isn’t really needed.

    3) CEP. This is slightly related to range, but if you are firing close by, the deviation is not bad enough for it to miss the target too badly. A 155mm round at 30km though, your maximum error at 5% is 1.5km, which is also known as a “total miss”. So ironically guidance for 155mm rounds is a lot more critical for them than it is for the 120mm.

    As for missiles in service, you got pretty much the whole range covered, so not much to worry about.

    Monty, it is economical, just one of the facet of modern warfare. This is balanced by ATGM carriers not carrying much anti-personnel equipment, so it’s always a balancing act between AT and AP capability in a squad. Oh well, life’s full of tradeoffs.

  45. Thanks @observer appreciate the info. I suppose I’m wondering if there’s a cheaper way of delivering precision fires than exactor

  46. ST – ref Spike in vehicles – I looked at some of the smaller ATGW and decided Spike-LR was a good compromise (4km range vs. 2.5km for Javelin, fibre communication in flight that allows LOAL) and is smaller & lighter than Spike-ER let alone Spike-NLOS. So I found space in some of the vehicles for Spike-LR. Neat; tidy; useful.

  47. There is 155mm PGM, basically relying of GPS to hit coordinates, the key to this is obviously mensuration to ensure accurate coords. This is what GMLRS uses, to a lot greater range and with a lot more HE. Why bother with small stuff like 120 or 155mm? There may be a justification for 155mm as well but it certainly isn’t yet clear.

    Laser designation has a host of problems. In the 1980s I wrote the paper that put the kybosh on Copperhead for UK. I did a good day’s work on that one. Once you start examining the issues in reality not the sales brochure, it was obvious that it was more trouble than it was worth.

    Exactor’s benefit is that the operator steers the missile, which means it can engage moving precision targets. Since the operator is well away from the enemy fly by thumb works OK. It would also be useful for engaging high value targets in depth when determining precise coords is difficult, eg command vehicles, air defence systems, CB radars. I wouldn’t waste it on mere tanks.

  48. @ Chris – I’m a fan of SPIKE LR but was looking at heavier dedicated vehicle mounted systems. Considering its size/weight would a layout similar to the Milan Compact Turret/Spartan be suitable for SPIKE LR rather than the Striker?

  49. Getting accurate coords on a high-intensity battle field – yep, might be a problem. Rather than making the rounds smart (and thereby expensive), why not make the overall system *smarter* in the spirit of Continuous Improvement. did a Nexter factory visit:
    “. In collaboration with BAE Systems Bofors, Nexter Munitions has so far produced more than 6,000 Bonus shells. Bonus MKII combines a multi-spectral infrared detection device with a laser range finder in order to simultaneously detect the temperature signature of the target and its three-dimensional signature.

    Buoyed by the response to Bonus, Nexter Munition is currently developing Spacido, which improves the precision of artillery ammunitions, considerably reducing the risk of collateral damage. Being developed in partnership with Junghans T2M and INSNEC, Spacido is based on a system which includes a multi-function electronic fuse provided with aerodynamic brake, programming resources and muzzle radar. Its precision has been improved by a factor of four at long range without the need for GPS. Nexter Munition has already done some validation firing with Spacido for DGA in 2011. “We are still fine-tuning Spacido,” said Guillet. “After a few more series of tests, it will be put on the market in 2014.””
    – I wonder what kind of CEP we are talking about, after that four-fold improvement?

  50. ST – I’m sure a Spike armed Milan compact turret would work just fine (I think they did the same with TRIGAT-MR?) but is an obvious installation (a bit like SP Starstreak – my manager back at Alvis suggested the Air Defence vehicles were deliberately made incredibly tall so that, if the missiles failed to stop them, the incoming aircraft would trip over the vehicle as they passed). I obviously think I have a much neater installation (I would, wouldn’t I?) and have some other ideas for less obvious fits. As TD noted above (possibly with some prompting) it is the fact the Striker looked just like an APC until the silo lifted to fire that made the opposition’s task so difficult and thus gave Striker an added edge – if a fleet of APCs was seen advancing by enemy forces there would be great difficulty for them to work out which if any were tank-killers, leaving them the option of trying to stop all APC-like vehicles, or stop none/few and hope, or run away…

  51. Trying hard not fall under the category of “fantasy fleets” but with the warrior fleet been reduced couldn’t an option be to fit the cockerill 105mm turret. This could fill 2 roles, Art support with the 105mm (+45 elevation) and ATGW overwatch with the falerick missile which fired through the barrel and therefore crew reload under cover. I believe the French have trialled it on the VBCI so if that comes onto the books we’re sorted!!

  52. paul g – At first sight it looks a heavy lump to sit on top of a full height APC hull. I think we looked at this turret (or the then current Cockerill 105) when I was at Alvis, and found the turret much lighter than the size warranted, that being achieved by a low level of protection. So my gut feel would be, if its light enough to fit on Warrior without damaging stability mobility and performance then it hasn’t enough protection, and if its protected enough to match Warrior hull then its too heavy…

  53. So you did, missed that first time round.
    @chris Doesn’t the turrent have to go through a STANAG test? wouldn’t think they would bring out a turret that was crap for protection, good way of get a bad reputation, also the xc-8 is the newer version so maybe they have ironed out any problems. Just thought with it having 2 roles and surplus hulls available it could be a goer

  54. Paul g – it seems for some customers rocking up with an impressive big gun is enough – protection a bit of a side issue…

  55. Chris, the Cromwell upgrade to a big-gun Charioteer tank hunter was done by lightening the protection in the turret down to rifle level… So would not be the first time
    “So my gut feel would be, if its light enough to fit on Warrior without damaging stability mobility and performance then it hasn’t enough protection,”

  56. Protection isn’t everything, usage is also important. Remember that I’ve been drumming in the difference in usage between what were “cruiser” tanks in the old days and “siege/infantry support” tanks for a while, not to mention if the tank is to be used as the spearhead of an attack or dug in defilade.

    If the tank is to be used “dug in”, then it can cut a few corners in protection. Same with it being used as “infantry support” where the infantry takes most of the brunt of enemy fire.

  57. Re Swingfire,

    16/5L carried about 22 missiles per wagon in Gulf 1. Amazing how much extra stowage you get with some purloined RAF load nets slung off the sides of the wagons. And most of the wagons were Winchester after taking on the 12th Brigade on Objective Lead.

    One missile was fired at a T-59 that was trying to egress, but towards the area of B Squadron who were doing a flank guard to the north. The tank had a infantry truck with it. The wire snapped as it reached maximum range, so the missile did what it was programmed to do. Up for two seconds, then nose dive. Straight onto the flat bed of the truck, and that was unintended for about 30 Iraqi infantrymen.

  58. ST, without going into too much detail, yes.

    Any more and I’ll be forced to eat you after reading your coat label.

  59. PaulG

    The problem is Falarick is Ukrainian. i dont see us procuring a major weapon system from the Ukraine any time soon, and yes I know the LAHAT is Israeli, but so is Exactor so there is a precedent for that.

  60. Chuck basically posted this (theory) before, and what Time Magazine has put together also goes nicely with my earlier piece about the lack of training and C&C being at the root of the tragedy (“root” as in without the broader political analysis):
    “But while a complete Buk missile battery consists of three vehicles—one carrying the missiles, one for the radar that guides them, and one for the missile commander—the missile-launching vehicle does have its own radar and can launch missiles by itself. If that happened, its crew of three or four may have been unable to, or never trained in, reviewing the airliner’s transponder data declaring their target to be a civilian airliner.

    “Its built-in radar is normally used to track the target being engaged, but can be operated in a target-detection mode, allowing it to autonomously engage targets that were present in the radar’s forward field of view,” says IHS Jane’s Missile & Rockets editor Doug Richardson. “Although it has its own Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) system, this is only able to establish whether the target being tracked is a friendly aircraft. It is the electronic equivalent of a sentry calling out ‘Who goes there?’ If there is no reply, all you know is that it is not one of your own side’s [combat] aircraft. It would not give you a warning that you were tracking an airliner.”

    Or attacking one.”

  61. @ ACC

    BONUS and SmART155 are both SADARM (Sense And Destroy ARMor) type munitions. UK did order SmART155 about 10 years ago but subsequently cancelled it. SADARM was a US demonstrator project in the 1980s, but used 203mm not 155mm, electronics were a tad larger in those days.

  62. @ACC: Happens to the best of us and technically it’s 4 vehicles ;)

    I feel like I’ve missed an argument somewhere.

  63. @Obsrv,

    Read somewhere that the remaining (demonstrator) stock of Sadarm (121 rounds) got expended in Iraq
    – unfortunately the source did not offer any post-Op evaluation

    Bonus lost the UK competition (the one that was canceled afterwards)… what irony that BAE (Bofors) is helping Nexter to produce them for France (& some unnamed other customers)
    – across many armies 6000 rounds produced so far is not much – the reason I included that bit in the quote
    – Nexter obviously holds high hopes for their only half-dumb rounds (rounds still dumb, but all the other gubbings around them improve results while not raising unit costs)

  64. Personally I am in favour of an AS90 like , high mobility & high ammo load vehicle to work with mech (armour & AI) formations. 122 mm would sound about right; some Exactors on a similar (same) platform… range is no different, just to be used when the targeting information warrants it
    – ok, there are no smart rounds (ready)to use for the above; also, as per Obsrv, whether what is wortwhile for 155mm will work for 122 is an open queation
    – would be nice to have more information on the Polish Crab: Braveheart turret, Nexter gun (155mm), I forget already what chassis they put it on. Range was the absolute requirement that then dictated the 155mm choice, so I take it the rounds to be used against armour still being massed (before closing in) must have figured prominently

  65. Actually, artillery against moving armour isn’t really the best tool for the job, even the GPS/laser guided ones. Time of flight is very long. At 30km with a speed of about 850 m/s, you’re still talking about 35 seconds from flash to bang. At about 60km/h, that is about 1km/min or about 500m, lots of time to get out of the kill box, which is why EO/optically guided missiles are the preferred go to weapon for tank busting.

  66. Artillery fires against moving columns make much sense because forces are rarely as vulnerable as on road. And on most terrains, they’re still going to be channelled by terrain. The threat of artillery also forces vehicle spacing (longer, more sluggish convoys) and traffic policing (to avoid clusterfucks at bottlenecks) on hostiles.
    Artillery needs training and consistent or definable delays to be good at shooting up moving forces, though.

    And one thing helps very, very much; the combination of dust/night/smoke with artillery-scatterable AT mines. The original MARS/MLRS batteries were able to combine lethal fires (creating temporary dust) with minefield laying. Targeted forces were faced with the dilemma of either moving out of the fire zone or stopping to avoid catastrophic mine hits. Poorly educated forces wouldn’t even know the dilemma and run into the mines.

    This combination is similar to how phosgene was often delivered mixed with HE shells in WWI; every time forces were under fire by HE by 1917/18 in France, they had to fear phosgene as well, and were burdened accordingly.

  67. @ Slightly Agricultural – very interesting. Mimicry and long range Precision Strike. Wonder what there role is; straight replacement for the M113 carrier?

  68. On the other TD thread, RE what between 105 and 155, I was just pondering (to myself) what would be a protected enough carrier for NLOS to keep up with an armoured battle groups
    – funnily enough I was thinking of older Leo2s (like A4s, within an otherwised A6 force)

    Some of the readers on the other site (SNAFU) got so excited that the reloads (small photo, but would seem the backends are facing out?) looked to them like “oohh, that is a lot of missiles.

  69. A protected carrier to keep up with armoured battle groups? If a 30t IFV is good enough for the infantry, then it ought to be good enough for a missile carrier that will spend most of its time firing from defilade.

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