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Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

Published: 2nd Dec, 2019

Indian Army inducts Israel made Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) ‘Spike’ along LoC in J&K.


Indian Army inducts Israel made Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) ‘Spike’ along LoC in J&K.


  • The Indian Army has inducted Israel made ATGM Spike along the LoC in the northern command in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to bolster defence along the border with Pakistan.
  • India has signed a deal with Israel for the acquisition of 240 spike missiles which are generally used for anti-tank roles in the forces.
  • The spike missiles were acquired after the Balakot
  • Purpose: An anti-tank missile (ATM), anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), anti-armour guided missile or anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) is a missile that is created to destroy vehicles that are heavily armoured.
  • India started a feasibility study on a First Generation ATM in
  • Background: The task of preliminary study and wind testing was assigned to Department of Aeronautics and Institute of Science, Bangalore. In 1962, DRDO was granted funding begin work on developing an ATM due to conflict with China in Ladakh.

Facts about Anti-Tank Missiles:

  • Different sizes: Sizes of ATM can range from smaller missiles that can be carried by just one person and shoulder-launched, to bigger ones that need a team to transport or launch, to even bigger missiles that are mounted on aircrafts and other vehicles.
  • Earlier technology was not efficient: Earlier, anti-tank weapons provided to the infantry - such as anti-tank rockets, anti-tank mines and anti-tank rifles - did not have a high armour-penetration capacity and so, soldiers had to approach close to the target for them to work.
  • Improved technology now: The rise of anti-tank guided missiles now has given infantry soldiers the ability to defeat tanks with light and medium armours from a large range, even though main battle tanks (MBTs) are still quite resistant to ATGMs.
  • HEAT: Most ATGMs now have a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead - this is a spike of metal which goes through the target.
  • Some top anti-tank missiles are designed to launch the attack from above as the armour is usually weaker there.
  • ATGMs were used by more than 130 countries as of 2016.
  • Three types of guidance systems in ATGMs
    • First generation: These missiles are guided by manual commands and the missile is steered to the target.
    • Second generation: Semi-automatically commanded missiles need to operate to keep the sight fixed on the target till impact.
    • Third generation: This type of guided missiles relies on electro-optical imager (IIR) seeker, a laser or a W-band radar seeker in the nose of the missile. These are ‘fire-and-forget’ missiles where the operator can retreat right after firing as there is no more guidance required.

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles of India

  • DRDO Anti-Tank Missile: The DRDO ATM is a first generation wire-guided missile developed in India by Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL) of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    • It has a subsonic speed up to 300 ft/s (91 m/s) with a range of 1.6 km and carries a 106 mm HEAT warhead.
  • Amogha missile: Amogha-1, is a second generation, ATGM which has pin point accuracy for a range up to 2.8 km. It is under development by Bharat Dynamics at Hyderabad. It has also become the first missile designed and tested by the Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) Company.
    • The missile will be produced in two versions. Amogha -2; the land version has already been tested. The IIR version the missile (Amogha -3) of uses a thermal intelligent vision and then attacks the target. Amogha -3 is a fire and forget, 3rd generation ATM.
    • The missile moves near the target in a parabolic path and does not follow a completely parabolic path like conventional projectiles. It then bends at steep angles to attack the target.
  • Nag missile: The Nag missile also called ‘Prospina’ for the land attack version is an Indian third generation all weather ‘fire-and-forget’, lock-on after launch ATGM with an operational range of 500m-20km, single-shot hit probability of 0.9 and 10 years of maintenance free shelf-life. Nag is under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) run by DRDO and is manufactured by BDL. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently announced its readiness to enter series production. It comes in five variants, namely;
    • Land version (for mast mounted system)
    • HeliNa (Helicopter-launched Nag)
    • Man portable (MP ATGM)
    • Air-launched version (for air interdiction which will replace imaging infra-red (IIR) to milli metric-wave (mmW) active radar homing seeker.
    • NAMICA (Nag Missile Carrier) tank buster which is a modified BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) produced under and licensed in India by Ordnance Factory Medak (OFMK).
  • Stand-off Anti-Tank (SANT): SANT missile was tested for the first time, last year from a Mi-35 attack helicopter and according to media reports is a variant of HeliNA ATGM developed to be used from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) of MALE and HALE Class with a similar range of HeliNA.
  • Cannon-launched Laser Guided Missile (CLGM): CLGM developed by DRDO is a semi-active Laser homing cannon launched missile that can be launched from a 120mm main gun of the Arjun Tank. The 5 km range CLGM can target armored vehicles, including Tanks, as well as low-flying aircraft.
    • SAMHO: SAMHO is an infantry launched version of CLGM which requires a tripod launcher and has a range of 6kms. CLGM and SAMHO are capable of both direct and indirect laser designation.
  • Man Portable Anti-tank Guided Missile (MP ATGM): This is an Indian third-generation fire-and-forget AGM. It is currently under development by the DRDO in partnership with Indian defence contractor VEM Technologies Private Limited. The missile is derived from India's Nag ATGM.
    • It is fitted with a HEAT warhead. It has a range of about 2.5 km.
    • The missile has a length of about 1,300 mm and a diameter of about 120 mm.
    • It has a weight of 14.5 kg, with its command launch unit (CLU) weighing 14.25 kg.
    • It is equipped with an advanced IIR seeker with integrated avionics. The missile has top attack capability.
    • It will reportedly compete with systems such as FGM-148 Javelin, and will be technologically more advanced than the Spike (ATGM).
  • Jasmine anti-tank missile - VEM Technologies Pvt Ltd proposed that they are capable of developing a 3rd generation ATM called “Jasmine” in a short time since they had all requisite technologies to develop it in-house, if interest were shown by the armed forces.

Anti-Tank Guided Missiles of Israel

  • Spike: Known as the ‘fire and forget’ missiles, Spike are portable by men and are powerful enough to destroy tanks and bust bunkers within four kilometres.
    • The SPIKE family of fourth-generation ATM is produced by EuroSpike, a joint venture between Rafael Advanced Defence 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 HEAT warhead and IIR seeker for accuracy.
  • Other ATGMS of Isreal:
    • Orev (upgraded BGM-71 TOW-2)
    • MAPATS
    • LAHAT – fired through smoothbore tank gun tubes of Merkava tanks
    • Nimrod

Other Defence Technologies imported by India from Israel

  • Heron; Searcher; SPYDER; Python-5; Barak 8.

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