Country of origin
150 to 2 200 m
Missile launch weight
Missile weight in container
Firing unit weight (with stand and sights)
Launch tube length
angled HEAT (tandem angled HEAT in BILL 2)
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
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 -30°C to +60°C, 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
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
RBS 56A BILL 1: Original production model.
RBS 56B BILL 2: Improved RBS 56A BILL 1 with multiple firing
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.
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
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
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Video of the Bofors BILL
anti-tank guided missile