Country of origin
up to 1 000 mm
250 - 5 000 m
1 750 mm
Kentron product, the Denel ZT3 Ingwe (Afrikaans for "Leopard") was
developed by South Africa's Project Raleigh, as a complement to the
MILAN ATGM, and as a successor to that weapon for use
on vehicles. It is unmistakably a
variant, despite the official claim that it was developed solely in
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
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
APCs. It has seen no notable combat use since, simply because the
SADF (now the SANDF) is effectively no longer confronted with an
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
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
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
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.
Original model, with a smaller warhead lacking a tandem charge.
ZT3B: Improved model with a much more powerful tandem shaped
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.
BGM-71 TOW: The Ingwe was derived from
"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.
publish your own articles? Visit our
guidelines for more information.