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ZT3 Ingwe

Anti-tank guided missile

Ingwe missile

The Ingwe is South Africa's first indigenous ATGM weapon

Entered service 1987
Armor penetration up to 1 000 mm
Range 250 - 5 000 m
Weight 28.5 kg
Missile length 1 750 mm
Missile diameter 127 mm
Warhead Tandem HEAT
Warhead weight ?
Guidance system Semi-active laser


   Originally a Kentron product, the Denel ZT3 Ingwe (Afrikaans for "Leopard") was developed by South Africa's Project Raleigh, as a complement to the SADF's ageing MILAN ATGM, and as a successor to that weapon for use on vehicles. It is unmistakably a BGM-71 TOW variant, despite the official claim that it was developed solely in South Africa.

   The most interesting twist is that how the technology used in its guidance system could have ended up in the hands of the South African military-industrial complex has never been clarified, but events have shown that it might have been stolen from the US. Soon after the Ingwe was first unveiled in public the US government and defense industry realized it was virtually identical to an experimental variant of the TOW that was undergoing testing in the US at the time --- a variant which, at the time, was still a top secret program. How this technology ended up in South Africa is still unexplained by both US and South African authorities, though it is almost certain that espionage was involved.

   A clear departure from the TOW series is the much smaller size of the Ingwe. While a BMG-71C TOW IIA has a fuselage diameter of 152 mm (6 inches), the Ingwe has a diameter of only 127 mm (5 inches). Its reported weight of 28.5 kg is much heavier than the TOW (at about 20 kg), even considering that the Ingwe is 50 mm longer, though this figure might also include the weight of the launch tube. The Ingwe is thus light enough to be carried by a single soldier with little difficulty, but is nonetheless too heavy to qualify as a man-portable weapon.

   The Ingwe employs semi-active laser guidance. The target is illuminated by a spot from a laser designator, which the missile actively seeks. This system has the advantages of being invulnerable to radio jamming and/or interference, none of the flight limitations imposed by wire guidance, and the ability of the launch platform to remain completely behind cover without having to expose itself (i.e., the missile may be guided by a laser designator other than the one on the launch platform, such as by troops, a helicopter, a ground vehicle, etc.). It is also possible to "ripple fire" laser-guided missiles; if several are launched in rapid succession, the second one can be directed to a second target after the impact of the first, and so on, until multiple missiles have destroyed multiple targets in rapid succession. However, the recent advent of laser detectors and dazzlers entails that laser guidance is no longer stealthy or safe from jamming.

   The effective range of the Ingwe is 5 000 m, which is considerably longer than any wire-guided TOW variant; this is likely resulted from a combination of eliminating the guidance cable, and the installation of a more powerful rocket motor (which was also made possible by eliminating the cable as well, as it limited how fast the missile could fly without damaging the guidance system). The minimum effective range is still quite long, at 250 m. The claimed flight speed is 200 m/sec, which is slightly faster than the average speed of a TOW at 187 m/sec.

   Propulsion is by a single-stage, solid fuel rocket motor. The quantity and composition of the fuel is classified, but likely contain organic chemical compounds.

   At least three warheads have been developed for the Ingwe. The original ZT3A missile had a shaped charge warhead rated to penetrate 650 mm or RHA Steel, while the improved ZT-3B has a tandem shaped charge warhead that is rated to penetrate 1 000 mm or RHA Steel, after ERA. A new type of warhead unveiled at the IDEX 2013 exposition, dubbed the MPP (Multi Purpose Penetrator) has been developed for use against light armor and material targets (unarmored vehicles, parked aircraft, structures, trucks, etc.), but the MPP has apparently not yet been adopted.

   The first combat use of the Ingwe was during the Battle of the Lomba River in September of 1987, and the Battle of Calueque in June of 1988, in which it destroyed a number of T-55 tanks and BTR-60 APCs. It has seen no notable combat use since, simply because the SADF (now the SANDF) is effectively no longer confronted with an armored threat.

   The Ingwe can be launched from a wide range of platforms, including AFVs, helicopters, and watercraft. Its primary launch platform is the Ratel ZT3, which launches the missile from a ZT3 Swift turret, fitted with a distinctive 3-tube launcher. It is also used on Puma and Rooivalk helicopters in the SANDF, the Mi-24 Mk.III Super Hind of the Algerian Air Force, and EC635 helicopters of the Iraqi Air Force. Efforts are underway to integrate the Ingwe into tank destroyers based on the Badger and AV8 Gempita. Another new technology that debuted at IDEX 2013 is the IPLS (Ingwe Portable Launch System) launcher, which is light and compact enough to allow the Ingwe to be launched from light vehicles (notably, it has been demonstrated on a Land Rover-based vehicle), or even a tripod, much like the TOW.

   For over two decades, the Ingwe has been little more than a curiosity employed only the SANDF, and not purchased in sizable quantities since the early 1990s. This has changed dramatically in recent years, with further development and production orders in South Africa, and export sales to Algeria, Iraq, and Malaysia. It has also been claimed that there are other undisclosed export customers of the Ingwe, but this has not been confirmed. Given past trends in the development and export sales of South African weapons, it is probable that the Ingwe will continue to evolve and proliferate.

   The Ingwe remains in production and development, and is available for export. The unit cost has not been published, but is probably between US$20 000 and US$40 000.




   ZT3A: Original model, with a smaller warhead lacking a tandem charge.

   ZT3B: Improved model with a much more powerful tandem shaped charge warhead.

   ZT3A2: New variant with a fully-automatic guidance system, and a longer 5500m range. Entering service with the SANDF.

   IPLS: New launcher that allows the Ingwe to be fired from on tripods or light vehicles.


Related weapons


   BGM-71 TOW: The Ingwe was derived from this weapon.

   "Wireless TOW": Nickname for an experimental laser-guided version of the TOW missile. Did not enter service, and seems to be an abandoned program.

   MAPATS: Israeli version of the TOW with laser guidance. Interestingly, the MAPATS is also smaller in diameter than the TOW (at 148 mm), but it is larger in diameter than the Ingwe. In service with the Israel Defense Forces.

   HJ-9: Unlicensed Chinese variant of the TOW.

   Toophan: Unlicensed Iranian variant of the TOW.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

Ingwe missile

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