The Army, after all, has a shortfall of around 44,000 ATGMs of different types. “Though Army has an authorized holding of 81,206 ATGMs, not even half that number is present in its inventory,” said a source
What is SACLOS?
- In SACLOS, the operator has to continually point a sighting device at the target while the missile is in flight. Electronics in the sighting device and/or the missile then guide it to the target. SACLOS devices commonly work using one of these methods: wire-guided, radio-guided, or beam-riding.
- A wire-guided missile is a missile that is guided by signals sent to it via thin wires connected between the missile and its guidance mechanism, which is located somewhere near the launch site. As the missile flies, the wires are reeled out behind it command guidance.
|TOW missile showing wire link between missile and launch post
- In case of Radio-Frequency (RF) guided missiles, the guidance is sent from the missile-post to the missile though RF mode. This is a wire-less version.
|TOW-2A missile with RF guidance instead of wires|
- With beam-riding SACLOS, the sighting device emits a directional signal directed toward the target. A detector in the tail of the missile looks for the signal. Electronics in the missile then keep it centred in the beam. It differs from SARH (semi-active radar homing) and SALH (semi-active laser homing) in which the target is illuminated by a powerful emitter and a sensor in the head of missile detects the reflected emissions and directs it to the target.
Multiple Platforms, Multiple Missiles
- Infantry – Infantry is equipped with man-portable anti-tank guided missiles. Each infantry battalion has organic anti-tank missile platoon. The number of missile launchers/unit is higher for plains as compared to mountains.
- Mechanized Infantry – Mechanized infantry of Indian Army consists of mechanized infantry battalions under Mechanized Infantry Regiment (MIR) and The Brigade of Guards Regiment. Both of these regiments are equipped with BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV). Apart from 30mm main canon, BMP-2 also carries ATGM which is fired by the gunner of the IFV.
- Armored Corps – The T-90 tanks of the Armored Corps have the capability to fire ATGM from the main 125mm smooth-bore cannon.
- Army Aviation Corps – Till the advent of Weapon Systems Integrated (WSI) – Dhruv or Rudra attack helicopter in the army, only IAF Mi-25/35 attack helicopters carried air-to-surface anti-tank missiles. Once Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is inducted, it will also require air-launched ATGM.
Note 1: Anti-Tank Guided Missile Battalions
This new role refers to conversion of the unit into Reconnaissance & Support (R&S) role. The same conversion seems to have happened to other battalions as well. More on these vital Recce & Support battalions later.
(A) Infantry: Milan-2/Milan-2T and Konkur-M missiles
(A.1) Milan/Milan-2T Usage
(A.2) FLAME launcher
If you compare the first two images above (French soldier with Milan missile and Jonga mounted Indian ATGM team) with fourth and fifth image above, you can make out the difference between the aiming and guidance kit.
The first two pics show the tripod cum aiming+guidance kit as obtained from France. Fourth and fight picture show Milan missile mounted on FLAME launcher. Where FLAME stands for – Fagot Launcher Adapted to Milan Equipment.
Fagot here refers 9K111 Fagot ATGM (NATO reporting name – AT-4 Spigot) which India operated with BMP-1 vehicles. Konkur-M (NATO reporting name – AT-5b Spandrel) which is the current ATGM on BMP-2 is further development of AT-4 and utilizes a similar tripod launcher.
The FLAME launcher which has been adapted from AT-4 missile is 9P135M; this is a Soviet Union/Russian launcher which could fire both AT-4/AT-4C and AT-5 missiles.
Further, there are two versions of FLAME launcher – (a) FLAME-G: Ground version to be used only for Milan-2 missile. (b) FLAME-V: Mounted version which can fire both Milan-2 and Konkur-M/AT-5B missile and which can also be used in dismounted role. This build flexibility and mechanized troops can use Milan-2/2T if required (but not other way around)
As per BDL website, the launcher weighs 26 Kg – this is the combined weight of tripod, 9S451 guidance controller box (rectangular structure below the missile) and a9Sh119 optical sight unit. While BDL site does not mention this but the mounted version of FLAME launcher is said to be heavier at 35 kg.
|AT-4 missile (source: internet)|
|AT-5 Konkur missile (source: internet)|
The blast protection sheet which gives protection to the gunner from the missile tube seems to have been carried forward from original French launcher for Milan missile.
(A.3) Note 2: The Kornet-E Mystery
(A.3.1) Missile details
|Kornet missile with launcher. Thermal sight 1PN79-1 can be clearly seen. (source: internet)|
(B) Mechanized Infantry: Konkur-M missiles
Mechanized infantry, both from Mechanized Infantry Regiment (MIR) and The Brigade of Guards (or simply The Guards) have anti-tank role across two main categories:
- Mechanized Infantry Battalions: Equipped with BMP-2
- Reconnaissance & Support Battalion (Recce & Support-R&S) – R&S battalions are further of two types:
- Tracked – Equipped with BMP-2
- Wheeled – Jeep mounted ATGM and BRDM-2
BMP-2 has a single ATGM launcher mounted on the roof between the commander and gunners hatch. 9M113M ‘Konkur-M’ (NATO reporting name: AT-5B Spandrel B) is the standard ATGM missile. Each BMP-2 carries 4 anti-tank missiles.
The missile launcher/firing post is capable of 360 degree rotation and -5 to +15 degree elevation. Missile is fired by the gunner from within the turret without having to expose himself. This is achieved with integration of missile’s optical fire-control system with the gunner’s main fire-control system. Though, missile reload requires gunner/commander to expose himself. Further, each BMP-2 also carries an additional FLAME launcher to fire the missile in dismounted mode from ground and away from the vehicle.
(B.2) 9M113M ‘Konkur-M ‘Missiles
9M113M Konkur-M missile is an evolution of 9M113 Konkur missile. Latter is referred to as AT-5 Spandrel while former is called AT-5B Spandrel.
The main difference between the two missiles is presence a probe in front of the missile and tandem High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warheads. The probe is extended from the missile on launch. The presence of probe and tandem warhead helps to defeat the Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) on modern tank and improve armor penetration.
This video from Syria shows a Konkur-M missile being fired. As the missile is fired, the front part of the missile clears the canister and missile stop for a split second. The probe is extended and missile is ejected.
Considering that both infantry and mechanized infantry use Konkur/Konkur-M missile, it has to be the most widely held ATGM in the Indian Army.
In 2012, India entered into agreement with Russia for purchase of 10,000 Konkur-M missiles for USD 225 million. As per a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute`s (SIPRI) arms transfer database, Russia had supplied 7,000 missiles by 2015. Prior to this, some 28,000 Konkur and Konkur-M missiles (Konkur-M from 2003 onward) have already been manufactured/imported by BDL.
(B.3) Reconnaissance & Support Battalions (Recce & Support)
In Mid-80s, some vanilla infantry divisions were modified and termed as RAPID – Reorganized Army Plains Infantry Division. Each RAPID had 1 x Armored Brigade + 2 x Infantry Brigades. Armor Brigade consisted of 2 x Mechanized Infantry Battalions + 2 x Armored Regiments. In addition, each RAPID also had 1 x Recce & Support Battalion (some accounts say one of the two mechanized infantry battalions in armored bde was R&S battalion and there is not separate R&S battalion).
There were initially four RAPID (14, 18, 24 and 36 RAPID) but the same number now stands at 6 with 4 and 12 infantry divisions having converted to RAPID. The number of Recce & Support battalions has also proliferated accordingly. And it is likely that R&S battalions have been allotted beyond RAPIDs to plain infantry divisions as well.
R&S battalions come in two variants which I think is driven by terrain and operational requirements.
(B.3.1) Reconnaissance & Support (Tracked)
These R&S battalions are equipped with BMP-2 IFV and also have Battlefield Surveillance Radar-Medium Range (BFSR-MR).
In this video from “Jai Hind with Rocky & Mayur” they spend time with 17th Battalion, Brigade of Guards nicknamed as ‘Tank-busters’. This is the same battalion which converted from pure ATGM role to R&S role. You can see the TATRA mounted BFSR-MR being deployed in the video.
BFSR-MR with hydraulic mast. (source: trishul-trident.blogspot.in)
(B.3.2) Reconnaissance & Support (Wheeled)
This short video shows a 9P148 BRDM-2 of Polish Army and mechanism of raising the missiles from within vehicle and swiveling them to acquire target.
(C) Armored Corps: T-90 Main Battle Tank
|Invar ATGM (9M-119M)|
The T-90 ‘Bhishma’ tank of the Indian Army has the capability to fire an anti-tank missile through its main gun. This missile is called as Invar (NATO reporting name: AT-11B ‘Sniper’. This is a laser beam riding, semi-automatic command-to-line of sight (SACLOS) missile. It is guided by the tank gunner through a laser guidance complex integrated with the gunner’s main sight.
Details about the missile from fofanov.armor.kiev.ua:
“The 9K119M Refleks-M (AT-11 SNIPER-B) is a guided weapons system launched from the 2A46M main gun of T-80 and T-90 MBTs. The 9K119M system uses beam-riding laser guidance. The tank directs a coded beam from a special gunner’s sight, which creates a laser “funnel” with the missile riding in the center. The 9K119M uses the 9M119M missile.”
(D) Army Aviation Corps: Rudra & Light Combat Helicopter
(E) Indigenous development
|Latest iteration of NAMICA vehicle (source: trishul-trident.blogspot.in/)|
- The most well-known anti-tank missile under development by DRDO. It is a 3rdGeneration, Fire-and-Forget missile, top-attack missile which uses Imaging Infrared (IIR) seeker. The missile works in Lock-On-Before-Launch (LOBL) mode.
- NAG is a heavy missile weighing in excess of 40 kg and fired from a dedicated platform known as NAMICA based on BMP-2.
- It has no prior equivalence in the Indian Army and when inducted, it will represent addition of new anti-tank capability. In fact, there are only few missiles in the this class.
- The F&F guidance system means the launch vehicle can move out after firing the missile which leads to better survivability. Further, the missile is ‘top-attack’ – which means it attacks the top section of a tank’s turret, a place with weakest armour ensuring effective kill.
- As per the latest news report, the missile has successfully undergone development trials in second week of June with improved target seeker; the missile demonstrated ability to hit target at 4 km range under highest daytime temperature (11am to 3pm). It is likely that missile will now enter User-Trials.
- The Recce & Support (R&S) battalions of the army are likely to be the first candidate for these missiles.
(E.2) HELINA (Helicopter Launcher NAG):
|HELINA being fired from WSI-Dhruv/Rudra helicopter (source: internet)|
|HELINA missile in its launcher tube|
|Close-up of HELINA missile leaving WSI-Dhruv/Rudra. The exhausts from mid-body mounted booster rocket of the missile are visible (image source: internet)
- HELINA is the helicopter launched version of NAG missile.
- It is being developed for use abroad the WSI-Dhruv/Rudra and Light Combat Helicopter.
- HELINA is an advanced, third generation missile which has 7km range, Lock-on-After-Launch (LOAL) capability and 2-way RF command-and-video data link.
- The LOAL capability allows the helicopter to fire the missile in general area of the target and then use missile’s seeker to lock-on when the target becomes clear. As the missile gets closer to the target area, the missile seeker pics up the target(s). The 2-way RF command-and-video data link transfers the seeker video to gunner’s cockpit. The gunner can then place the target tracker on a specific target. Post this, the gunner can either guide the missile himself to the target or missile does so autonomously.
- The 2-way RF video-and-command link was achieved in 2011. The missile achieved 7 km range from ground-launch platform in 2013.
- In June 2014, the missile was fired from Rudra helicopter and achieved 7 km range from airborne platform.
- Again in mid-2015, ‘hot fire’ trial of HELINA was done for 7 km range. Of three missiles fired, 2 managed to hit the target.
- The missile was to be tested in September 2016 with a new Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) Seeker with more sensitive Focal Plane Array (FPA); earlier version had 128×128 FPA while September 2016 test will have missile with 640X512 FPA.
- Considering that army is keen to acquire an interim ATGM for already inducted Rudra helicopters and for those to be shortly inducted, it seems there is some development work pending on the missile
- There is unverified report that HELINA is under-going redesign to ensure the exhaust from mid-body mounted booster don’t radiate outwards. Instead, the exhaust will now pass through the body of the missile and exit from the rear.
(E.3) Canon-Launched Guided Missile (CLGM)
|Canon-Launched Guided Missile. Also seen is the FLAME launcher (souce: https://www.facebook.com/TejasMrca)|
|Layout of CLGM (source: internet)|
Old brochure of CLGM from 2010 when it was known as SAMHO. Notice the missile tube and missile
- MOD Annual Report 2014-15: Canon Launched Guided Missile (CLGM): CLGM is the semi active laser homing antitank missile which is able to engage the enemy tanks up to 5 km. The kill mechanism with CLGM is tandem high explosive anti-tank warhead. Instrumented flight trials from tripod have been successfully completed and midcourse guidance has been demonstrated.
- The missile is indigenous version of anti-tank guided missile launched from main gun of a tank. Missile caliber is 120mm and guidance is laser-beam riding SACLOS.
- In April 2017, DRDO conducted successful launch of CLGM from main gun Arjun Mk-2
- The Man-Portable ATGM (MP-ATGM) being developed by DRDO is derived from CLGM. As the above picture shows, the same is expected to fired from the FLAME launcher.
- While a lighter 14.5 kg man-portable version is being worked out, at 18.5 Kg, CLGM is only 2 kg heavier than Konkur-M (16.5 kg). May be, it can/will replace the Konkur-M as long-range ATM in use with infantry battalions.
- In early 2016, BDL tested a new missile with 2.8 km range and Radio-Frequency (RF) based guidance. There is no further news about the missile.
(E.5) RF Guidance ATGM:
- Times of India, 2nd April 2016: Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) has indigenously developed and test fired an advanced Wireless Anti-Tank Missile with RF Guidance at Babina ranges. RF System with EW protection was used to send the guidance command to the missile. The system has the capability of being remotely launched and piloted from a safe distance equaling the advantages of expensive third generation ATGMs.
- MOD Annual Report 2010-11: BDL is working on developing Radio Frequency Controlled ATGM.
- There is no further news about the missile.
(E.6) Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile (MPATGM)
- Ministry of Defense Annual Report 20115-16: The project was sanctioned in January 2015 towards design and development of MPATGM system comprising of 3rd generation anti-tank guided missile with launch tube, and launcher with command launch unit. During the year, design configuration has been finalized and reviewed. Eight static tests of rocket motor were conducted to achieve consistent ballistic performance. Control flight tests are scheduled in first half of 2016.
- On 29thAugust 2015, Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Joint Development of 3rd Generation Man-Portable Anti – Tank Guided Missiles (MPATGM) leading to its subsequent production for the Indian Army.
- There seems to one significant difference between MP-ATGM and other laser beam riding missile like Kornet-E. Kornet-E does not rely on reflected laser for guidance. The laser it receives is gathered at the rear part of the missile. On the other hand, like smart weapons, MP-ATGM captures laser at the front section of the missile and actually rides the reflected laser beam to the target. It should also be able to hit target basis a laser designation from other source rather than the missile launcher. This gives good shoot-and-scoot opportunity to the missile fire unit.
- Development status of the missile remains unknown.