Anti-tank guided missile

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An anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) or anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) is a guided missile primarily designed to hit and destroy heavily-armored tanks and other armored fighting vehicles.

ATGMs range in size from shoulder-launched weapons which can be transported by a single soldier, to larger tripod-mounted weapons which require a squad or team to transport and fire, to vehicle and aircraft mounted missile systems.

The introduction of smaller, man-portable ATGMs with larger warheads to the modern battlefield has given infantry the ability to defeat light and medium armored tanks at great ranges, though main battle tanks using composite and reactive armors have proven to resistant to smaller ATGMs[1][2]. Earlier infantry anti-tank weapons such as anti-tank rifles, anti-tank rockets and magnetic anti-tank mines had limited armor-penetration abilities and/or required a soldier to approach the target closely.



First-generation manually command guided MCLOS missiles to become operational and to see combat was the French Nord SS.10 in the early 1950s which require input from an operator using a joystick or similar device to steer the missile to the target. The disadvantage is that the operator must keep the sights cross hairs on the target and then steer the missile into the cross hairs—i.e. the line-of-sight. To do this the operator must be well trained (spending hundreds of hours on a simulator) and must remain stationary and in view of the target during the flight time of the missile. Because of this, the operator is vulnerable while guiding the missile.

Second-generation semi-automatically command guided SACLOS missiles require the operator to only keep the sights on the target until impact. Automatic guidance commands are sent to the missile through wires or radio, or the missile relies on laser marking or a TV camera view from the nose of the missile. Examples are the Russian 9M133 Kornet and the American Hellfire I missiles. Again the operator must remain stationary during the missile's flight.

Third-generation guidance systems rely on a laser, electro-optical imager (IIR) seeker or a W band radar seeker in the nose of the missile. Once the target is identified the missile needs no further guidance during flight; it is "fire-and-forget", and the operator is free to retreat. However, fire-and-forget missiles are more subject to electronic countermeasures than MCLOS and SACLOS missiles. Examples include the Russian Vikhr, German PARS 3 LR, Israeli Spike and the Indian Nag. But due to the ads of the manufactures of various antitank missiles in the past and today there is some confusion and dispute as to whether the newer antitank missiles are 3rd generation or what some are claiming are 4th generation antitank missiles.

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