The world’s deadliest anti-tank missiles

12 June 2019 (Last Updated June 22nd, 2020 13:13)

Modern anti-tank missiles such as AGM-114R, Spike, Javelin, and Red Arrow 12 provide armed forces with the capability to stop a heavily armoured tank in its tracks. Army-technology.com lists some of the best modern anti-tank missiles currently available, based on precision strike capability and deployability.

The world’s deadliest anti-tank missiles

AGM-114R HELLFIRE II Romeo

The AGM-114R multi-purpose HELLFIRE II, developed by Lockheed Martin, is the latest version in the family of HELLFIRE II air-to-ground missiles.

The HELLFIRE II Romeo has a length of 163cm and diameter of 17.8cm. The 49.4kg missile is equipped with semi-active laser (SAL) seeker and employs lock-on before launch (LOBL) or lock-on after launch (LOAL) to defeat a variety of targets.

The missile can be launched from helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, ground-based tripods, vehicles and boats. The HELLFIRE II Romeo can carry a multi-purpose warhead for a maximum range of 8km.

Spike-MR/LR/ER

The SPIKE family of fourth-generation anti-tank/multi-purpose missiles is produced by EuroSpike, a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Diehl BGT Defence and Rheinmetall Defence. It includes three versions, namely SPIKE-MR (medium range), LR (long range) and ER (extended range).

The SPIKE-MR is a man-portable fire-and-forget missile that can be launched by infantry and special forces to accurately strike targets within a 200m to 2,500m range. The SPIKE-LR can be launched from a ground-based tripod and light combat vehicles for ranges between 200m and 4,000m. The SPIKE-ER is designed for launch by land vehicles, helicopters and naval platforms to defeat tanks within a range of 8km.

Missiles are fitted with tandem-charge high-explosive, anti-tank (HEAT) warhead and an electro-optical seeker for accuracy.

Javelin Missile

The Javelin is a medium-range anti-tank guided missile developed by Javelin, a joint venture between Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. The missile is currently in service with the US Forces and has been combat-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Javelin is considered the world’s best shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon and 12 nations currently operate the Javelin under foreign military sales from the US. Each missile weighs 11.8kg while its command launch unit (CLU) and round weigh 6.4kg and 15.9kg respectively.

The Javelin employs a long-wave infrared (LWIR) seeker for guidance to destroy tanks, bunkers, buildings, small vessel and low-speed helicopters with a high hit probability. It can also be fired from tripods, light armoured vehicles, trucks, and remotely piloted vehicles. It carries a tandem shaped charge, enabling a maximum range of 2,500m.

HJ-12 (Red Arrow 12)

HJ-12 or Red Arrow 12 is a third-generation anti-tank missile developed by China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). The fire-and-forget missile was unveiled during the 10th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition held in November 2014.

The 17kg man-portable missile can be fired by a single soldier using a launch unit mounted on a tripod. The missile carries a tandem HEAT warhead to strike targets such as tanks, bunkers, small boats, and low-flying helicopters. The warhead can penetrate up to 1,100mm of armour protected by explosive reactive armour.

The Red Arrow 12 missile employs an infrared (IR) imaging seeker for all-weather, day and night missions. It can be equipped with a television (TV) imaging seeker for missions during the day. The TV version provides a maximum range of 4,000m while the IR variant offers a maximum range of 2,000m.

BGM-71 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 tripods, vehicles and helicopters for a maximum range of 4.5km.

UMTAS

UMTAS is a long-range anti-tank missile system developed by Turkish firm Roketsan. Primarily designed for launch by T129 ATAK and AH-1W Cobra attack helicopters, the missile can also be integrated into unmanned aircraft, light armoured vehicles, land-based fixed installations, close-air support aircraft, and naval platforms.

Each 37.5kg UMTAS missile can be mounted on helicopters using a quad launcher with the capacity to carry four missiles. It comes with imaging infrared (IIR) seeker or laser seeker options and features lock-on before/after-launch capabilities.

The fire-and-forget missile carries a tandem HEAT warhead, which is effective against all types of heavy-armoured vehicles hidden behind a cover. It is capable of engaging targets within a range of 8,000m.

PARS 3 LR

The PARS 3 LR (third-generation missile / long-range), also known as TRIGAT LR, is a helicopter-launched fire-and-forget missile manufactured by PARSYS, a joint venture between MBDA and Diehl BGT Defence. The missile is intended to destroy tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopters, bunkers and command posts.

The PARS 3 LR is the primary weapon of the Tiger attack helicopters operated by the German Army. The 1.6m-long missile weighs 49kg and the weapon system allows Salvo-firing with a rate of fire of up to four missiles in less than ten seconds.

The jamming-resistant infrared seeker aboard the missile ensures the engagement of different targets in direct or top-attack modes. The PARS 3 LR missile can carry a tandem shaped-charge warhead covering a range of 7km.

Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP)

The Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP) is a new generation medium-range anti-tank missile system developed by MBDA for the French Army. The MMP will replace the MILAN anti-tank missile after entering service in 2017.

The MMP missile will weigh 15kg and measure 1.3m in length and 140mm in diameter. The weight of the firing unit, including tripod and battery, is 11kg. The missile can be fired from portable firing posts, vehicles and army aviation platforms.

The missile can engage targets within a 4km range in fire-and-forget, man-over-the-loop, and lock-on after launch modes. Missile guidance is provided by a dual mode seeker, which includes un-cooled infrared and visible channels.

Kornet-EM Anti-Tank Missile

The Kornet-EM is a multi-purpose anti-tank guided weapon system manufactured by KBP Instrument Design Bureau. The missile is designed to destroy main battle tanks fitted with explosive reactor armour (ERA)-fitted, light armoured vehicles, fortifications and low-speed air targets.

The Kornet-EM system can be mounted on either a portable launcher or a carrier-based automatic launcher. The system employs three types of missiles, including 9M133M-2, 9M133FM-2, and 9M133FM-3. The automatic, laser beam guidance ensures the Kornet-EM to effectively destroy targets at a range of 10km.

The 9M133M-2 is an anti-tank guided missile fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead to penetrate 1,100mm to 1,300mm of armour. The 9M133FM-2 guided missile carries a highly explosive warhead with a blast force of 10kg TNT equivalent while the 9M133FM-3 includes a warhead with an explosive force of 7kg TNT equivalent.

LAHAT – Laser Homing Attack Missile

The laser homing attack missile (LAHAT) is a lightweight anti-tank guided missile produced by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). It was initially developed for Merkava tanks and can be fired from vehicles, helicopters, vessels and remote installations.

The LAHAT is a very compact missile with a length of 975mm and diameter of 104.5mm. It weighs 12.5kg and relies on semi-active laser (SAL) guidance to engage targets using direct or indirect designation system.

The missile can destroy stationary and moving targets at ranges up to 8km with pinpoint accuracy. The high-performance armour piercing warhead ensures the LAHAT can penetrate even add-on reactive armour.

MILAN ER

The MILAN ER from MBDA is a new generation anti-tank light infantry missile derived from the MILAN range of missiles now operational with more than 40 countries.

The MILAN ER missile fired from digital firing post uses the semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) guidance system to defeat targets. Each missile weighs 13kg while the advanced Technology (ADT) fully digitised day/night firing post weighs 21kg.

The MILAN ER offers an extended range of 3km as opposed to the 2km-range of the last generation MILAN missiles. It is fitted with a tandem charge warhead to neutralise new generation explosive reactive armour used by some main battle tanks.

NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon)

The next generation light anti-tank weapon (NLAW) developed by Saab Bofors Dynamics is the first ever non-expert short-range anti-tank missile system operable by an individual soldier. The NLAW is in service with the armed forces of the UK, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden.

Each missile launch unit weighs just 12.5kg, enabling one-man-portability in confined spaces. The NLAW weapon system approaches the target guided by predicted line-of-sight (PLOS). It employs overfly top attack (OTA) mode for tanks and other armoured targets while direct attack (DA) mode is used for non-armoured targets.

The single shape charge warhead of the NLAW has been designed to defeat modern MBTs fitted with ERA. The missile requires just five seconds of preparation time and is compatible with night-vision goggles and clip-on night-vision devices. The combat range of the NLAW is between 20m and 600m.

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