Country of origin
700 mm RHAe
Range of effective fire
Launch tube length
Launcher weight (without tripod)
The MSS 1.2 is a man-portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM)
manufactured in Brazil by Mectron. It is one of the most powerful
missiles in its class, and is intended to give infantry an equalizer
against even the most advanced main battle tanks.
Initially, this missile was jointly developed by OTO Melara
in Italy and ENGESA in Brazil as the Missile Anticarro della
Fanteria (MAF), with the program beginning in 1985. The MAF was
later renamed the LEO, in honor of Minister of the Army Leonidas
Goncalves, but that name as well gave-way to a later designation,
the current MSS 1.2. After ENGESA went bankrupt in 1993, the program
was handed over to ORBITA, and later Mectron (also a Brazilian
company). OTO Melara eventually ceded the entire program to Mectron,
who continued to develop it for an agonizingly long duration ---
after 16 more years and at least one major redesign, the MSS 1.2 was
formally accepted into service with the Brazilian armed forces in
The CEO of Mectron, Gustavo Ramos, claimed in December 2012
that the MSS 1.2 was (in his own words) "developed and manufactured
by a 100% Brazilian company". Though given articles on the MAF, LEO,
and MSS 1.2 by Flight Global
and other news outlets since the 1980s, this is somewhat
exaggerated; without substantial assistance from OTO Melara, this
missile would never have existed.
Unlike most modern ATGMs in its class, the MSS 1.2 is not
fired from a disposable launch tube, but rather a reloadable box
launcher. Even more unusual, the launcher has a butterfly-shaped
bore, and a hexagonal cross-section (the prototype launchers had
more conventional cylindrical tubes). It is made of lightweight
composite materials, has a lanyard for easy transport, and the
muzzle and venturi are both covered by plastic covers to keep our
moisture, dust, and debris. The launcher can easily be carried by a
single soldier, though the tripod, sights, and missiles must be
carried by additional personnel. The MSS 1.2's launcher may be
mounted on a low-level tripod, or on a vehicle.
The MSS 1.2 is guided by a semi-active laser system, by which
the operator or another soldier paints the target with a laser spot,
and the missile homes-in on its reflection. This guidance method
gives the MSS 1.2 excellent accuracy even at very long range, and
allows the user to manually guide the missile into any target.
However, laser guidance is not without its faults. The laser beam
can be detected by foes equipped with laser detector systems, and
laser designator and optics can be damaged by return fire from a
laser dazzler. In addition, the beam can be blurred or even
completely blocked by smoke, rain, fog, mist, and dust clouds.
In addition to its laser guidance, the MSS 1.2 is also one of
the few ATGMs deliberately designed to be launched without guidance,
in the event that guidance is not possible for whatever reason, or
if the enemy is so close that there isn't any point in "painting"
them with a laser spot. If the seeker head fails to detect a laser
spot, the missile's guidance system will force it to fly on as
straight and flat a trajectory as possible, up until it flies long
enough to self-destruct.
for the MSS 1.2 is a 2-stage system, consisting of a rocket booster
and a rocket sustainer, both utilizing solid fuel. The boost phase
expends the booster within a fraction of a second, propelling the
missile some distance away from the operator before the sustainer
(which has a significant backblast) can fully-ignite. The sustainer
motor is smokeless and flameless. The missile arms in flight at a
distance of approximately 70 m from the launcher, and flies at 583
m/sec out to a distance of more than 4 000 m before the
self-destruct system activates. Mectron rates the MSS 1.2 as
accurate against moving tanks out to a range of 3 200 m; the longer
4 000 m figure is probably the effective range of the MSS 1.2
against static tanks, buildings and other stationary targets.
The warhead of the MSS 1.2 is a 3.2 kg shaped charge munition,
with a 2.5 kg bursting charge consisting of an HMX-based explosive
compound. It is rated to penetrate 700 mm Rolled Homogenous Armor
equivalency (RHAe), and during Brazilian Army testing, the warhead
was reportedly able to penetrate more than 6 000 mm of concrete.
Interestingly, depending on what type of concrete was used, this
could indicate that the warhead's armor penetration is almost twice
as great as advertized. The manufacturer also boasted that this
warhead will penetrate the frontal armor of any existing or
projected main battle tank, including the
Challenger 2, and
claim is somewhat suspect, because even if the warhead is powerful
enough, it lacks a precursor charge to defeat ERA.
As of 2014, the Brazilian Army fielded 48 launchers and 12
missiles each, while the Brazilian Marines fielded 12 launchers with
6 missiles each. The planned production total for the Brazilian
armed forces is 400 launchers, and over 2 000 missiles.
To date, no foreign orders have been forthcoming, though the
MSS 1.2 remains in production and development, and is still offered
for export. A single MSS 1.2 missile costs approximately $300 000.
Kornet: The Russian Kornet (Western reporting name AT-14
Spriggan) is one of the most well-known and successful man-portable
ATGMs, and it has proven able to disable giants such as the M1A2
Merkava Mk.4, and Challenger 2. Like the MSS 1.2, the Kornet is
launched from a reloadable low-level tripod, and is laser-guided.
FGM-148 Javelin: The US equivalent of the MSS 1.2, the Raytheon
FGM-148 Javelin is a more elaborate weapon, employing a tandem
charge warhead, passive infrared guidance, and a top attack
Stugna-P (export name
This Ukrainian laser-guided ATGM is similar to the Kornet and MSS
Type 87 Chu-MAT: The Kawasaki Type 87 Chu-MAT is another
example of a man-portable, tripod-launched, laser-guided ATGM. It is
used only by the Japanese Self Defense Forces.
Type 01 LMAT: The Kawasaki Type 01 LMAT is another Japanese
ATGM in the same class as the MSS 1.2, though its design attributes
are more like those of the FGM-148 Javelin.
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