Anti-tank guided missile developments.
Faced with the possibility of having to defend their home territories against armoured attack, the West Europeans and Israelis have always placed a heavy emphasis on the development and deployment of anti-tank missile systems.
Among their current products and developmental systems are several market leaders including:
* the world's first short-range mini-missile (Aerospatiale's Eryx);
* the West's first operationally-proven, 2000-metre range platoon weapon (the Euromissile Milan);
* the world's first overflight top-attack missile to enter service (the Bofors BILL);
* the first overflight top-attack version of the TOW (the Thorn EMI/Royal Ordnance FITOW);
* the world's first laser beam-riding anti-tank missile to enter service (Israel Military Industries' MA-PATS);
* the world's first fire-and-forget, 5000-metre range top-attack missile to enter development (Euromissile Dynamics Group's long-range version of Trigat);
* the world's first 81 mm and 120 mm "smart" anti-tank mortar rounds (the BAe Dynamics Merlin and FFV Strix) and
* the world's longest range anti-tank missile (Israel Aircraft Industries' Nimrod).
* In addition, the world's first dual-purpose air defense/anti-tank missile system, the ADATS, was initially developed entirely with private venture funding by the Oerlikon-Buhrle group of Switzerland.
Designed to replace existing shoulder-fired infantry anti-tank rocket systems for a similar weight and price, the very short-range Eryx missile is about to start troop trials as we go to press. It is due to enter service with the French Army in 1992.
The wire guidance system provides significantly better hit probability than with unguided rockets, out to the maximum range of 600 metres, which is reached in just under four seconds. The tandem warhead penetrates explosive reactive armour (ERA) and the equivalent of more than 900 mm of solid steel armour behind it.
The Eryx's reusable launcher and the missile in its launch container weigh a combined 15 kg. The missile is 885 mm long and has a diameter of 135 mm. Together with its throwaway launch tube, it weighs 11 kg, including the 3.6 kg main warhead charge.
The launcher includes a tripod, a X3 magnification optical sight, an infra-red CCD camera goniometer and a guidance computer. In operation, the guner keeps his sight cross-hairs on the target, while the CCD camera tracks the missile via a flashing localizer lamp in the missile's tail and the goniometer measures its deviation from the sight-line. The computer calculates correction signals, which are transmitted up the guidance wire.
The IR CCD camera is said to be effective in fog and smoke. Counter-measures resistance is provided by synchronization of the CCD camera with the missile's flashing xenon localizer beacon, and by comparing views with and without the beacon. For night operation, a Sopelem OB50 image intensifier sight will be used.
Aerospatiale's innovative design places the main warhead at the rear of the mini-missile, with the sustainer motor ahead of it, and the small precursor charge in the nose. On firing, the missile is "soft-launched" by a rocket motor that burns out in the tube. The launch motor has a low signature and permits firing from enclosed spaces, such as would be used in urban combat.
After ejection from the tube at 17 m/sec, the sustainer motor lights up some 10 metres out, and accelerates the missile to a velocity of 280 m/sec. Thanks to the thrust-vector control system, positioned at the missile's centre of gravity, accuracy is ensured even at extremely short ranges and low velocities.
The French Army requirement is for 2120 Eryx launchers and 60000 missiles. First export customer is Canada, which requires 400 launchers and 20000 missiles. A Franco-Canadian Memorandum of Understanding has been signed for co-operative production of Eryx, and industrial agreements are in the process of being negotiated. Negotiations are also under way with a number of other potential customers, three of them in Western Europe.
The 2000-metre range, wire-guided Milan first entered service in 1972, after 10 years of development by the Aerospatiale/MBB consortium Euromissile. It has been used in action by the armies of Britain, Chad, Morocco, Iraq and the UNITA rebels in Angola, and is either in service or on order for the armies of 42 countries. Some 10000 firing posts and more than 350000 missiles have been produced to date by Euromissile and its licencees (British Aerospace, OTO-Melara and Bharat Dynamics).
The current version of the Milan in service with the French, German and British armies is the Milan 2, in which the original 103 mm diameter warhead is replaced by a 115 mm diameter charge, with a stand-off detonator fuze at the end of a fixed nose probe. In addition, all three of the above armies now have MIRA thermal imaging night sights for their Milans. The 9 kg MIRA, produced by TRT, Siemens and Marconi, has a target detection range at night of more than 3000 metres.
MBB is developing a further improved Milan 2T tandem warhead, to deal with tanks fitted with ERA, which should be ready to enter service with the German Army in 1991. The Milan 2T features a precursor charge on a telescopic nose probe, mounted ahead of a redesigned 115 mm main charge.
The French and British armies are expected to order the Milan 3. This will incorporate the Milan 2T warhead, plus an improved guidance system using an IR CCD camera goniometer derived from that of the Eryx, to enhance performance in fog, smoke and countermeasures conditions.
Bofors RBS56 BILL
Under contract from the Swedish Defense Materiel Department (FMV), Bofors began development of the 2000-metre range BILL in 1979.
The wire-guided missile flies approximately one metre above the gunner's sightline, powered by a solid-propellant motor in the forward section that exhausts through nozzles around the circumsference. A tracking signal transmitter is mounted in the missile's tail, and flip-out cruciform wings and control surfaces are located in the tail section.
The missile is armed with a rear-mounted, shaped-charge warhead that is canted downwards at 30 degrees. It is detonated by a multisensor proximity fuze.
The missile system weighs around 35 kg, including an 11.2 kg stand, a 5.5 kg sight and the 18.0 kg missile plus launch container. Set-up time is 20 seconds, time of flight to 2000 metres is 11 seconds and reload time is seven seconds.
The RBS56 completed development and entered production for the Swedish Army in the mid-1980s, under an initial SEK 13 million contract. It has now been ordered by the Austrian Army, which has a requirement for about 1000 missiles and 160 launchers.
A specially-developed night sight, using Thorn EMI thermal-imaging common modules is due to be delivered by Bofors Aerotronic this year.
Initial development of the 2000-3000-metre range, laser beam-riding Missile Anti-carro della Fanteria (MAF) was undertaken as a private venture by OTO-Melara, with Officine Galileo for the guidance, Breda for the firing post, and SNIA-BPD for the rocket motor and the warhead. In 1986 the Brazilian company Engesa joined the programme as co-developer and producer, but was replaced in 1987 by a new Brazilian firm, Orbita, whose financial contributions were to be provided by the Brazilian Army. Orbita would have marketing rights in the Caribbean and Latin America.
More than 20 development missiles have been fired to date but, with the Italian Army now having opted for the Milan (license-produced by OTO-Melara), the programme has become heavily dependent on the Brazilian Army as the launch customer. Right now, according to an OTO-Melara spokesman, the programme is "waiting for the Brazilians".
Further trials are currently scheduled. But with the parlous state of the Brazilian defense industry (notably Avibras and Engesa) since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, and of the Brazilian Army's budget, funds to continue the programme may be hard to come by.
Known in Brazil as the MSS 1.2, the missile system consists of a 23 kg firing post (tripod, laser transmitter, optical sight, thermal imager and fire-control computer), and a missile in its launch canister weighing 20 kg.
The 14.5 kg subsonic missile has a two-stage motor, the first stage of which burns out in the launch tube. The missile has clipped canard wings at the mid-section and cruciform tail control surfaces. The 4.1 kg, 130 mm diameter unitary shaped-charge warhead is fitted in the nose. The modulated laser transmitter in the firing post operates in the near-IR band. It transmits pulsed guidance commands to a receiver on the rear of the missile body, as a function of deviation from the gunner's sight line.
Minimum range is 70 metres, maximum clear weather range (using the optical sight) is 3000 metres, and maximum all-weather range (with the thermal imager) is 2000 metres.
Another transatlantic missile programme currently in limbo is the Aries, involving Hughes Aircraft and Spanish company Esprodesa. At present in the feasibility phase, Aries is on hold while the Spanish government decides whether to support it or join the Trigat programme (see below), and also decides whether a major share in Esprodesa should be held by the state or private investors.
The 2000-metre range Aries is designed as a lightweight system, using millimetre-wave RF command to line-of-sight guidance. The launcher is to weigh about 15 kg, and the day/night sights and guidance transmitter are to be mounted on the launch tube. The 150 mm diameter missile will have a "soft launch", prior to accelerating to a velocity of more than 3000 m/sec, giving it a time of flight to 2000 metres of about eight seconds. It is to be armed with a tandem warhead capable of penetrating ERA and up to 1000 mm of steel armour.
(This section is based on reporting by ARMADA International's Israeli Correspondent Reuven Pedatzur.)
Since the mid-1980s, the Israeli Army has been deploying an IR laser beam-riding missile derived from the wire-guided Hughes TOW. Developed by Israel Military Industries, MAPATS has subsequently been exported "in large numbers", according to a company spokesman.
As with the TOW, the 4500-metre range missile can be fired from a ground tripod, Jeep, APC or helicopter.
The IMI-developed tandem warhead features a precursor charge at the end of a telescopic nose probe, to defeat ERA, and is fitted with an active laser proximity fuze to ensure detonation at the optimum stand-off distance. The warhead penetrates more than 1000 mm of 300 Brinell steel armour, shielded by ERA.
The 21 kg guidance system includes X13 magnification day and night sights, with their cross-hairs aligned on the IR laser projector. The complete unit can be traversed through 360 degrees, with an elevation of up to 30 degrees and depression down to -20 degrees.
The MAPATS missile is loaded into the glass-fibre launch tube as a ready round in its sealed container. It takes about two minutes to set up the system prior to the first shot, including automatic self-test. On firing, an ejector motor burns out in the launch tube, at which point the guidance system begins transmitting IR laser pulses and an IR detector in the tail of the missile is activated.
The gunner simply keeps his sight cross-hairs on the target. Using inputs from its rear-facing sensor, the missile's digital control system calculates deviations from the line-of-sight, and commands corrections to one or more of the cruciform tail control surfaces. Time of flight to 4500 metres is 23.5 seconds.
Thorn EMI FITOW
To upgrade the Improved TOWs in service on British Army Lynx helicopters, in order to cater for new Soviet armour without the extra weight penalty of a heavier warhead, the UK Ministry of Defense selected Thorn EMI in 1987 to develop the Further Improved TOW (FITOW).
The FITOW employs an overflight top-attack profile, together with a downwards-pointing active laser proximity fuze. When the associated electronic processor identifies a tank target, it detonates two downwards-pointing shaped charges developed by Royal Ordnance.
Thorn EMI's 20 million pounds development contract includes initial production of the new forebodies of missiles for the British Army's Lynxes. Helicopter integration has been carried out by Westland, and Hughes is responsible for modifying the guidance system to direct the missile to fly above the gunner's sight-line. Initial trials have already been carried out, and Thorn EMI is marketing the FITOW forebodies to European TOW users, for in-country retro-fit.
The 4000-metre range, wire-guided HOT is a vehicle and helicopter-launched weapon that first entered service in 1977. Since then, more than 100000 missiles have been delivered to 17 countries.
In 1985 the current HOT 2 was introduced with a new 152 mm diameter warhead.
Subsequent developments include: conversion of the analogue electronics to digital circuitry, giving reduced weight and easier maintain-ability; a tandem HOT 2T warhead to defeat ERA (this is expected to enter service in late 1992); and a new IR tracker to improve countermeasures resistance.
Euromissile Dynamics Group (Aerospatiale, MBB and British Aerospace) began development of the Trigat in 1988, under a contract from the defence ministries of France, Germany and the United Kingdom. Belgium has since joined the programme, and the Netherlands, Greece and Spain are expected to follow suit. EMDG had been formed in 1980, and project definition had lasted from 1983-86.
The programme calls for two weapons: a medium range missile to replace the Milan from 1996; and a long-range version to begin replacing the HOT and TOW 3-4 years later.
The Trigat MR medium range member of the family is a direct-attack, laser beam-rider that has a designed maximum range of 2000 metres and is carried by two men. It reaches maximum range in less than eleven seconds. The beam-riding guidance system uses a pulsed carbon dioxide laser transmitter in the firing post (which is also fitted with a thermal imaging camera) and detectors in the tail of the missile.
The medium range weapon can be fired from enclosed spaces, thanks to is two low-thrust launch motors. Control is by thrust-vectoring, even in the launch phase, via two mid-section exhausts. After launch, the sustainer motor cuts in and powers the missile up to its flight speed of 290 metres per second. The tandem warhead has a precursor charge in the nose, and is detonated at the optimum stand-off distance by a Thorn EMI active laser proximity fuze.
Aerospatiale is prime contractor for the medium range missile system, with individual responsibility for the munition and training equipment. MBB is responsible for the firing post, thermal imager and warhead; the TGZ consortium (TRT, GEC Sensors and Zeiss) for the laser beam-riding guidance system, with Ferranti and SFENA providing the laser Giravions Dorand is supplying the simulators; and British Aerospace the maintenance equipment.
France has a requirement for 1500 medium range Trigat firing posts and 63000 missiles; Britain for 1200 firing posts and 80000 missiles; while the figures for Germany, at 350 and 10500, are the lowest of any of the present and potential future participants in the programme. Requirements in Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands bring the totals to 4570 firing posts and 183050 missiles.
The Trigat LR long-range variant of Trigat is a more ambitious design. Being developed for launch from ground vehicles (with either low-profile turrets or quad launchers on 12-metre telescopic masts), and from helicopters, it is a fire-and-forget, top-attack missile using an Imaging IR seeker that operates in the 8-12 micron bandwidth. Maximum range is 4500 metres when ground-launched, or 5000 meters from helicopters, with time of flight to 4500 metres being some 17 seconds. When it reaches the target, the missile dives onto its top armour at an angle of about 30 degrees.
BAe is responsible for the long-range munition, its integration with ground vehicles and the Imaging IR seeker (in collaboration with BGT and Thomson-CSF); MBB is responsible for helicopter integration and for the warhead (with Royal Ordnance and SERAT); and Aerospatiale is responsible, under MBB, for the Osiris mastmounted sight that will be fitted on the Franco-German Tiger helicopter. Sub-contractors on the Osiris include SFIM and SAGEM for the stabilized platform; and SAT, ELTRO and Thorn EMI for its thermal camera.
Germany has the largest requirement for the Trigat LR, with 1008 installations and 44800 missiles; the United Kingdom wants 350 installations and 15000 missiles; and France requires 345 installations and 13800 missiles. Spain has a probable requirement for a further 62 installations and 620 missiles, but no other potential partners in the programme have vet identified needs for this version.
BAe Dynamics Merlin
Despite Argentine assertions that British 81 mm mortar fire in the Falklands was so accurate that they had to be using laser-homing rounds, no such weapon existed in 1982.
BAe had begun private venture studies in September 1981 of its Merlin guided anti-tank round (using a millimetre-wave seeker) for 81 mm mortars, but project definition did not get under way until 1983, when the British Ministry of Defense contributed 11 million pounds as a part share in the costs.
Since there was no official British Army requirement, however, the Ministry then withdrew, leaving BAe to continue development alone in the hope of winning export customers. The strongest prospect at present appears to be the US Marine Corps. The armed forces of Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are also understood to be displaying interest.
In development to date, 158 ballistic firings have been conducted to prove range and charge performance. Guidance component firing test began in 1987, with the first full-up guidance system firings, using inert rounds, taking place in Autumn 1989 in Scotland against stationary and moving dummy tank targets. These demonstrated the ability of the millimetre-wave seeker and guidance control system to withstand the high-g launch forces, to acquire and lock on to representative targets, and then to steer the Merlin out of its ballistic trajectory to attack them. Two fully guided telemetry firings in February 1990, this time against real, unenhanced (but static) tank targets, were both successful.
The unitary shaped-charge warhead has undergone 475 ground based test firings, but full system live firings are unlikely to be conducted until 1991.
The 4 km range Merlin weighs 6.5 kg. It is handled and fired like a standard mortar round. It needs no modifications to the mortar, no servicing, no spares and no target designation. The active MMW seeker is completely autonomous, and is claimed to be effective in all weathers, by day or night, even in "dirty" battle-field conditions with smoke and fires. Unit cost is intended to be "similar to that of a Milan" (believed to be about $12000).
When the Merlin exits from the barrel, six tail fins snap out to provide basic aerodynamic stability, the warhead is armed and the thermal battery activated. Next, four canard surfaces deploy in the nose section to provide directional control. The seeker is switched on as the round approaches the apogee of its trajectory, where it provides information enabling the control system to accomplish de-spin and attitude control.
As the descent begins, the seeker starts a search pattern over a footprint area of 300 X 300 metres. Detection of a moving armoured vehicle causes target tracking to begin. Absence of moving targets initiates a secondary mode scan to find stationary targets. Once a target is acquired, the seeker provides the necessary angular error information to the guidance system to ensure impact on the top of the armoured vehicle.
Asked how he rated the Merlin's market position versus that of the more nearly developed 120 mm Strix smart mortar round from Sweden (see below), a BAe spokesman told ARMADA International that the British company "is well ahead in the development of 81 mm intelligent anti-tank mortar munitions, especially millimetre-wave". BAe selected the 81 mm calibre for two reasons, he continued. "First, it is an ideal niche market in which we are so far the only player. Second, it is technically far easier to scale up from 81 mm to a larger calibre, than it is to scale down."
He added that BAe has done paper studies on a 120 mm version of Merlin, but that before beginning serious development work on it, "we want to get the 81 mm well down the pike".
Feasibility and project definition studies on the 120 mm Strix (Screech Owl) smart anti-tank mortar projectile began in 1983, as a joint private venture between FFV Ordnance and Saab Missiles. Since 1984 it has been in development by the partners under a SEK300 million contract from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.
The first fully guided flight took place in 1988. FFV expects to complete development this year, and to receive a Swedish Army production contract shortly thereafter. The company reports considerable foreign interest, in particular from the US Marine Corps.
Launched from any 120 mm mortar, Strix has a normal range of up to 4.5 km. With the addition of a special sustainer motor, however, range can be increased to 7.5 km.
Main components of the system are: the 17.6 kg projectile with its IR target seeker, impact sensor, electronics, power supply, 12 mid-section lateral thruster rockets which provide terminal course corrections to ensure impact, rear-mounted warhead, and pop-out tail fins; the separate tail unit, with up to eight charge increments that propel the projectile out of the mortar tube; the optional sustainer motor, added at loading between the tail unit and projectile, for ranges in excess of 4.5 km; and the separate hand-held programming unit. This is connected to the projectile by cable prior to loading, and is used to feed in flight time before seeker activation, and with allowances for terminal phase ballistic conditions.
The tail unit is loaded first with the necessary propelling charges, then the sustainer motor (if required) and finally, the programmed projectile.
In the terminal phase of the trajectory, after activation, the IR seeker (believed to be a two-colour type) begins collecting infra-red signals from the target area, from which a digital image is formed in the on-board processing unit. Using intelligent signal processing, a tank target signature is then extracted and tracked, course correction signals being sent to the appropriate thruster rockets.
Strix is intended for barrage use by a mortar battery against multiple targets. In a typical engagement, individual mortars will be aimed at different points in the target area to minimize the likelihood of two projectiles homing onto the same target tank. The seeker is designed to ignore targets that are already burning.
First revealed at the 1989 Paris Air Show, Israel Industries' Nimrod is the world's longest range anti-tank missile. It was shown again more recently at the 1990 Asian Aerospace exhibition, where ARMADA International was able to confirm that the semi-active laser-homing weapon has a range of 26 km and exists in two versions, one for ground launch and one for air launch.
IAI Marketing Director Jacob Allon told ARMADA International in Singapore that the Nimrod has been fully operational with the Israel Defence Forces "for several years" and "has had experience in combat" (presumably in the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon). The ground version, he said, is fired from an elevated ramp on the back of a jeep, with a small traverse angle of[+ or -'15 degrees. The air-launched version, he said, is fired from "large helicopters, such as the CH-53H".
According to published sources, the missile is 2.84 metres long, has a body diameter of 210 mm, a wingspan of 500 mm and a launch weight of 100 kg, including a 15 kg warhead. Four clipped delta wings, in a cruciform configuration, are mounted on the aft section, just ahead of and in line with four cropped traiangular tail control surfaces.
According to IAI's Allon, Nimrod is easy to install and operate, and is extraordinarily reliable and accurate. Mid-course altitude is preselected, he said, to permit it to fly below the cloud base, and terminal target designation is provided by a laser-equipped ground observer, a separate aircraft or an unmanned air vehicle. Once the missile's seeker has locked on to the reflections of the pulsed designator off the target, the Nimrod goes into a dive of "more than 20 degrees" to impact with an accuracy of "less than one-metre RMS". The warhead, Allon confirmed, is of the tandem type, with two charges.
Two anti-tank systems are competing for selection, possibly this summer, for the two-year risk-reduction development contract to meet the British RAF's Staff Requirement (Air) 1238. This calls for an air-launched weapon system capable of defeating multiple armoured targets in a single low-level pass at high speed. It is to equip the RAF's Harrier GR5s, upgraded Tornado GR4s, and possibly its Hawks.
The two contenders are the Marconi Defence Systems/Rockwell Brimstone, and the Hunting Engineering/Honeywell Smart Weapon Anti-Armour (SWAARM).
The Brimstone is essentially the Rockwell Hellfire missile, fitted with a new programmable millimetre-wave seeker, and a "smart launcher" both developed by prime contractor Marconi. The MMW seeker provides full fire-and-forget capability, in all weather, with immunity against the dust, fog and smoke of the battlefield. According to Marconi, when operating in autonomous mode, the seeker's fast on-board processor selects high value targets and is resistant to countermeasures.
Each smart launcher, carrying four 45 kg Brimstones, can be mounted on 280 kg-capable wing pylons. Those RAF aircraft with four such pylons will thus be able to carry up to 16 Brimstones.
The launcher serves as an intelligent interface between missile and aircraft. For those without a MIL-STD-1553 data bus, it controls the missiles in a pre-programmed mode. For aircraft with the data bus, the launcher serves as a remote terminal capable of communicating target location, mission information and initial launch parameters to the missiles. Marconi says this provides excellent off-axis long-range capability, allowing covert operations and increasing aircraft survivability.
A Marconi spokesman told ARMADA International that the missiles can be launched in visual modE, via the head-up display, from ranges of up to 8-10 km, or they can be fired in salvo from low level beyond visual range, after being programmed to go through specific ground search patterns in a spread.
Hunting Engineering's Smart Weapon Anti-Armour (SWAARM) is a line-of-sight stand-off dispenser which can be released singly or in multiples. It delivers 16 sensor-fuzed smart munitions which incorporate technology developed by Honeywell's Precision Weapon Operation (Defense Systems Group).
The 450 kg dispenser is designed for release at very low level in high-speed flight, by day or night and in all weathers, at short stand-off distances from its targets. Weapon release is determined by aircraft target acquisition and aiming procedures similar to those for existing ballistic weapons, such as Huntings's BL755 cluster bomb. The dispenser has been designed to operate with a simple aircraft interface. It does not need or use an aircraft armaments databus.
After release, SWAARM falls below and behind the launch aircraft, using its body and horizontal tail surfaces to retain aerodynamic lift. Once safe aircraft separation has been achieved, two vertical tail fins (for lateral stability) and a one-piece wing (for high lift) deploy to enable the SWAARM to climb behind the aircraft to a predetermined height, facing in the direction of the target tank formation.
On-board management, control and navigation are provided by a combined Dispenser On-board Processor and Inertial Navigator (DOPIN). Height and speed sensors are included to provide flyout accuracy.
The sixteen sensor-fuzed munitions, arranged in four bays, are then laterally ejected in opposing paris to cover a ground pattern that corresponds to a tank column. Following ejection, each submunition is retarded into a controlled vertical descent in two ways. First, a cruciform retarder is deployed to reduce speed. A vortex ring parachute is then deployed which stabilizes the submunition in a controlled spinning descent, with the submunition body offset to the vertical. This enables its dual mode millimetre-wave and IR sensor system, which is highly resistant to countermeasures, to describe a decreasing spiral search pattern on the ground.
When the sensor system detects a tank, the warhead is detonated and a high velocity Explosively Formed Projectile (EFP) is fired downwards so as to impact the top of the target. This high-density solid slug, travelling at many times the speed of sound, can punch a hole in the armour of all existing and future main battle-tanks and generate severe behind-armour effects.
With its 16 smart munitions, the SWAARM is claimed to provide a footprint many times larger than the BL755, thus enhancing first-time attack capability, providing multiple kills per pass, and causing significant damage to other targets.
The SWAARM uses standard aircraft mountings and can be carried on a wide range of attack aircraft. No maintenance is required on the sensor-fuzed munitions, and only minimal maintenance is needed on the dispenser itself.