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Anti-tank guided missile

MILAN missile

The MILAN is the most successful Western European anti-tank missile ever made

Entered service 1972
Armor penetration 350 mm
Range 2 km
Missile length 918 mm
Missile diameter 103 mm
Fin span 267 mm
Missile weight 6.73 kg
Total weight with launcher ~ 24 kg
Warhead weight 2.7 kg
Warhead type High explosive
Guidance Wire-guided


   The iconic MILAN is the most successful Western European anti-tank missile ever made and is only surpassed by the BGM-71 TOW when it comes to international customers.

   If its name conjures visions of Italyís capital of style it deserves mention the MILAN is a French acronym for Missile díInfranterie Legar ANtichar or ďInfantry anti-tank missileĒ in plain English.

   The MILANís development dates back to a Franco-German program during the 1960s called the Euromissile. Soon after it entered service in 1972 it became a successful example of standardization among NATO forces. Not only were thousands deployed by the French, German, Belgian, and Spanish armies, but Italy and soon India were assembling MILANs under license.

   The French were very generous with the MILAN and it was even sold to regimes that werenít exactly allied with the West, including Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Its simplicity and firepower soon earned the MILAN a sterling combat record and MILANís have been sold in every continent except Antarctica. All in all, the MILANís customer list has reached 41 countries and at least several non-state groups.

   When disassembled the MILAN is divided between a launch tube carried in a separate case and the firing post or launcher, which combines a small tripod and the optical sensor. A two-man team can successfully operate a MILAN by assembling it from a concealed or fortified position. The MILAN was meant to be employed at the company level in the event that infantry need a serious countermeasure against oncoming tanks.

   This is why it could also be mounted in different armored vehicles like the Panhard VBL, the VAB APC, and the AMX-10P IFV. But in the hands of irregular forces the MILAN excelled at ambushes on enemy transports and APCs.

   When fired, the missile discharges the launch tube backwards and spins towards its target, floating above the line of sight to maneuver past any obstructions. Since 1984 the MILAN 2ís larger warhead could knock out second-generation tanks and most thin-skinned vehicles.

   The MILANís combat record is unmatched and the small ďhot warsĒ of the Cold Warís final decade saw its greatest proliferation. During the 1980s MILANs were used in the Falklands War, the Angolan Civil War, the Lebanese Civil War, the Iran-Iraq War, and the Soviet-Afghan War.

   The collapse of Yugoslavia and its resulting conflicts with Bosnia and Croatia saw the MILAN employed against Eastern Bloc armor once again. As recently as 2014, surplus MILANís along with their launchers were delivered by air from Germany to Northern Iraq. These were for Kurdish Peshmerga battling the Islamic State. The Kurds found the MILANís range well-suited to destroying suicide bomb trucks.

   Untold quantities of the MILAN have been seized from government warehouses and bunkers in Syria. A substantial amount of footage shows it being used by various factions in the countryís civil war.

   The MILANís success inspired many imitators and it is believed the Soviet 9K113 Fagot and the 9KM113 Konkurs were based on it. Even Chinaís ubiquitous HJ-8 Red Arrow, a system that has grown into a family of missiles, copied aspects of the MILANís operation.

   An estimated 360 000 MILAN missiles have been made since the 1970s. Being a second-generation ATGM that enjoyed unprecedented global success, the MILANís manufacturer MBDA has sought to continuously improve it. The latest MILAN variant is the MILAN ER, for "extended range", that can reach targets 3 kilometers away and offers greater penetration along with day/night targeting.




   MILAN 2, Nearly 15 years after the MILAN entered service a new variant was introduced in 1984 that featured an improved firing post. The missile together with the warhead was enlarged to 115 mm for greater armor penetration. It penetrates 550 mm or rolled homogenous armor.

   MILAN 2T, The 2T marked the introduction of a tandem HEAT warhead in the MILAN system. This was to counter the widespread use of Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) among third-generation tanks, which by the late 1980s were impervious to most shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets. This missile penetrates 880 mm of rolled homogenous armor behind ERA.

   MILAN 3, Introduced in 1996 the MILAN 3 had even larger 125 mm missile with tandem HEAT warhead and an infrared guidance system.

   MILAN ADT, In 2006 MBDA introduced a new lightweight firing post for the MILAN 3 with integrated thermal sights for day/night operation. South Africa was the first customer for the MILAN ADT and the subsequent MILAN ER was developed to complete the system and thoroughly modernize the MILAN.

   MILAN ER, Is an MBDA project to modernize the MILAN ATGM with greater range (3 km) along with a new ADT firing post or launcher with day/night sights. This missile penetrates 1 000 mm of rolled homogenous armor behind ERA. The MILAN ERís launcher is compatible with earlier variants of the MILAN and remains a wire-guided system since this makes it resistant to jamming.


Miguel Miranda

   Article by MIGUEL MIRANDA

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MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

MILAN missile

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