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Anti-tank guided missile

BILL anti-tank missile

The unorthodox BILL anti-tank missile is one of the most advanced and powerful weapons in its class

Country of origin Sweden
Entered service 1988
Armor penetration 550 mm
Range 150 to 2 200 m
Missile launch weight 10.5 kg
Missile weight in container 20 kg
Firing unit weight (with stand and sights) 27 kg
Missile length 900 mm
Launch tube length 900 mm
Missile diameter 150 mm
Warhead type angled HEAT (tandem angled HEAT in BILL 2)
Guidance Wire-guided


   The RBS 56 BILL (an acronym of "Bofors Infantry, Light and Lethal") is a man-portable anti tank guided missile developed in Sweden by the Bofors firm. It is now a product of Saab Bofors Dynamics.

   Development of the BILL was initiated in 1979. The project proceeded smoothly, and the Swedish Army began field trials of the BILL in 1985. Satisfied with the new weapon, the Swedish Army officially accepted it into service in 1988. During this timeframe, Bofors also began marketing the BILL abroad.

   The BILL is primarily employed as a dismounted weapon, although it is also operationally launched from vehicle-based launchers. It is unknown if the BILL can be operationally launched from helicopters.

   The complete portable launcher for the BILL consists of a tripod, a missile in its container, and a sighting unit. Both day and infrared night sights are available, with the day sight having a 1x magnification, and the night sight having a 7x magnification. The tripod weighs 11.8 kg, while the unlaunched missile weighs 20 kg (10.5 kg in flight), the day sight weighs 6.0 kg, and the night sight weighs 8.5 kg. The BILL is loaded into a disposable launch container, which is typically capped on either end with disposable rubber pads, giving the unused munition a dumbbell-like appearance.

   Like most ATGMs, the fuselage of the BILL is long and cylindrical, with a tapered, rounded, conical nose. The fins are fully retracted inside the fuselage, and extend instantly as the missile is launched; they are long, narrow, and swept, and are arranged in staggered crucifix patterns, with the forward fins being noticeably longer and more steeply-swept. Operating temperatures are from -30C to +60C, and the missile in its container is rated for a shelf life is approximately 15 years.

   The propulsion of the BILL is a 2-stage system. The first is a compressed gas charge, which is expended instantly when the missile is launched; this enormously reduces the danger area and visual signature of the backblast. The missile leaves the tube at a velocity of approximately 72 m/sec, and immediately after launch, a solid fuel rocket sustainer motor activates, propelling the BILL to a velocity of 250 m/sec. The sustainer motor's fuel is exhausted once the missile has flown a distance of about 400 m, leaving it to fly to the target by glide and inertia. Flight time to maximum range is approximately 17 seconds.

   The BILL is a wire-guided missile, and employs a Semi-Automatic Command Line Of Sight (SACLOS) interface. The user simply lines-up the sights on a given target, and the missile's flight path aligns itself with the axis of those sights. This system is very easy to operate; and renders the missile completely passive and invulnerable to jamming; however, the flight and guidance performance of the BILL are artificially limited by the mechanical tolerances of the cable, and missile guidance cables have also been known to snag on terrain obstacles, such as bushes, fences, and electrical towers.

   The warhead used in this missile is its most distinct feature, particularly as it was the first operational ATGM to employ it. Rather than being fired nose-on toward the target at as oblique an angle as possible, like most other ATGMs, the BILL is designed to overfly armored vehicles and attack them from above, at a height of approximately 0.75 m. The warhead is angled 30 degrees downward, to penetrate the roof armor (which is never more than an inch thick on any AFV, nor made of exotic alloys or arrays). Not only does this maximize the BILL's lethality against tanks, but it also allows it to easily attack armored vehicles hiding behind cover.

   A later version of the BILL, the RBS 56B BILL 2, has a new tandem shaped charge munition with a precursor warhead, capable of defeating ERA. More significantly, it also has three different "firing modes" to increase its effectiveness against a wider array of threats. In Mode 1 (Basic Mode), the BILL 2 performs much the same as the original BILL, and is most effective against heavy armor. In Mode 2 (non-armoured target more), the BILL 2's sensors are disabled, and it attacks targets directly without the "top attack" capability. In Mode 3 (soft target mode), the magnetic sensor in the BILL 2's warhead is disabled, so only the optical sensor will detonate the warhead; by detonating well above the target, the warhead's effectiveness against soft targets and area targets is increased. Moreover, Mode 3's programming is designed to be tailored to the requirements of the end user.

   Since the introduction of the BILL 2, the original missile is retroactively known as the BILL 1. To date, neither has been actively employed in combat.

   Known operators of the BILL 1 include Austria, Brazil, Latvia, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden. The BILL 2 has been used by Austria, Saudi Arabia, and Sweden. According to the manufacturer, there are a total of 4 current operators of the BILL 2.

   By 1996, over 15 000 BILL 1 missiles had been manufactured. Production of the BILL 1 was phased-out in the late 1990s, and it was replaced in production by the BILL 2. As of early 2016, the BILL 2 remains in production, and is still actively marketed. The unit costs of the BILL 1 and BILL 2 have not been released to the general public.




   RBS 56A BILL 1: Original production model.

   RBS 56B BILL 2: Improved RBS 56A BILL 1 with multiple firing modes.

   PAL 2000: The Panzerabwehrlenkwaffe PAL 2000 Bill is a BILL 2 manufactured under license in Austria. It is used only by the Austrian armed forces.


Launch Platforms


   BUA: The BUA ("BILL Under Armor") is a turret with a 3-tube launcher for the BILL, designed to be mounted atop an AFV. It has been demonstrated on an MT-LB chassis, but no sales have been forthcoming.

   Pbv 3023: Pbv 302-based Tank Destroyer, with a single BILL launch tube. Used only by Sweden.

   Pvbv 2063: Bv 206-based Tank Destroyer, with a single BILL launch tube. Used by Sweden, and possibly other nations.

   CV9040 BILL: CV9040-based IFV prototype with a BILL launcher added to the turret. Did not enter production.

   M113: A launcher for the BILL has also been demonstrated on an M113-based chassis. It is not clear if this vehicle has entered service.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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Video of the Bofors BILL anti-tank guided missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

BILL anti-tank missile

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