DEVELOPMENT HISTORY OF ANTITANK GUIDED MISSILES Germany developed a design for a wire-guided antitank missile derived from the Ruhrstahl X-4 air to air missile concept in the closing years of World War II. The Ruhrstahl Ru 344 X-4 or Ruhrstahl-Kramer RK 344 was a wire guided air-to-air missile designed by Germany during World War II. The X-4 did not see operational service and thus was not proven in combat but inspired considerable post-war work around the world. The antitank version, known as the X-7, was probably never used in combat and allegedly had serious guidance to target issues, and only a few were produced.
The SS.10 is the first anti-tank missile to be widely used. It entered service in the French Army in 1955. It was also the first anti-tank missile used by the US Army and Israeli Defense Forces.
The Malkara missile (from an Aboriginal word for “shield”) was one of the earliest anti-tank guided missiles (antitank guided missiles). It was jointly developed by Australia and the United Kingdom between 1951 and 1954, and was in service from 1958 until gradually replaced by the Vickers Vigilant missile in the late 1960s. It was intended to be light enough to deploy with airborne forces, yet powerful enough to knock out any tank then in service (it used a 26 kg HESH warhead).
Most modern antitank guided missiles have shaped charge HEAT warheads, designed specifically for penetrating tank armor. Tandem-charge missiles attempt to defeat ERA. The small initial charge sets off the ERA while the follow-up main charge attempts to penetrate the main armor. Top-attack weapons such as the U.S. Javelin, and the Swedish Bill are designed to strike vehicles from above, where their armor is usually much weaker.
GENERATIONS OF ANTITANK GUIDED MISSILES First-generation manually command guided MCLOS (Manual command to line of sight) missiles 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 sight’s cross hairs on the target and then steer the missile into the cross hairs. 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. The first system to become operational and to see combat was the French Nord SS.10 during the early 1950s.
Second-generation semi-automatically command guided SACLOS (Semi-automatic command to line of sight) 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, Israeli LAHAT and the American Hellfire I missiles. The operator must remain stationary during the missile’s flight.
Third-generation guidance systemsrely 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 missile operator is free to retreat. However, fire-and-forget missiles are more subject to electronic countermeasures than MCLOS and SACLOS missiles. Examples include the German PARS 3 LR and the Israeli Spike.