Anti-tank guided missiles were designed to destroy tank. Many of you may wonder which is the deadliest anti-tank missile. Here is the list of some of the best man-portable anti-tank guided missiles that are currently available. This list does not include vehicle-mounted and helicopter-launched missiles.
The key factors for this Top 10 list are range and penetration of the missile. Guidance method is also considered. Priority is given to advanced fire-and-forget and top-attack type missiles. This analysis is based on specifications and available data. This list does not include missiles that are still being developed.
So which is the best anti-tank guided missile in the world? Which are the deadliest missiles of this type and why?
Currently Top 10 man-portable anti-tank guided missiles in the the world are these:
Nr.1 MMP (France)
The MMP is a recent French 5th generation anti-tank guided missile. It was developed to meet requirement of the French Army and was first introduced in 2012. Deliveries to the French Army commenced in 2017.
The MMP is a multi-purpose missile. It can defeat anything from tanks to bunkers and hostile troops in buildings. This missile has a range of 4 km. The MMP offers non-line-of-sight-launch for both extreme ranges and obscured targets. It has a tandem shaped charge warhead and penetrates 1 000 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor.
It is a top attack system with fire-and-forget capability. However the operator can also guide the missile to its target manually. This anti-tank missile is suited for indoor launches.
The MMP follows a convenient setup consisting of a launch tube, a portable fire control system / guidance unit with day and night optics, and a collapsible tripod mount.
Nr.2 OMTAS (Turkey)
The OMTAS, also known as the Mizrak-O, is the first man-portable medium-range anti-armor missile developed in Turkey. Development of this missile began in 2010. Although its exact origins are unknown, on paper it qualifies as a fourth-generation anti-tank guided missile endowed with range, precision, and lethality. Its appearance, however, seems to have been influenced by missiles like the US TOW-2B and the Israeli Spike MR. It turned out to be an extremely advanced weapon.
The OMTAS was designed to knock out main battle tanks with explosive reactive armor. It can travel a distance of 4 000 meters and penetrates around 1 000 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor.
This missile has infrared guidance. It can be launched in fire-and-forget mode, as well as in fire-and-update mode. Also it has direct and top attack modes.
Nr.3 Spike LR2 (Israel)
The Spike LR2 is a recent 5th generation anti-tank guided missile. It was developed in Israel. It is a new generation of the original Spike LR, which was a huge success and was exported to around 30 countries, including most members of the NATO. The new LR2 has even longer range and increased armor penetration. It was designed for use by the infantry and light combat vehicles. This missile can be also used by helicopters and watercraft. Since its introduction the Spike LR2 was gaining orders. In 2017 this missile was first ordered by the Israel Defense Forces. So far the Spike LR2 was also selected by Australia, Estonia, Germany, Latvia and Slovakia, though it is likely that other countries will also order this missile. The Spike LR2 is being license produced by Eurospike in Germany.
This missile has a range of up to 5.5 km. When fired from helicopter this missile has a range up to 10 km using a wireless datalink.
The Spike LR2 uses infrared imaging guidance. It has a new infrared seeker with a smart target tracker and artificial intelligence features. It was designed to overcome active protection systems. This missile can attack targets from the top. It can be launched in fire-and-forget mode, as well as fire-observe-and-update mode. Alternatively it can be launched in no line of sight and use 3rd party target designation using the wireless datalink.
It has a tandem shaped charge warhead and penetrates 900 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor. This missile is also available with a multipurpose blast warhead which is effective against buildings, bunkers and field fortifications. It can breach up to 200 mm of reinforced concrete and detonate within the structure. This multipurpose warhead is also effective against lightly armored vehicles.
The Spike LR2 missile is compatible with launchers of the original Spike LR.
Nr.4 Javelin (United States)
The FGM-148 Javelin is a US-made man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile. It was fielded in the mid 1990s to replace the M47 Dragon. Deliveries to the US Army and US Marine Corps commenced in 1996. The Javelin has been exported to about 20 countries including Australia, France and United Kingdom.
Currently the FGM-148 Javelin is one of the most advanced man-portable anti-tank guide missile system in the world. It can destroyed any current main battle tank. It can also target low flying helicopters. Only some existing anti-tank missiles, such as Israeli Spike can compare with the Javelin.
The Javelin is a man-portable fire-and-forget type weapon. It is shoulder-fired but can also be installed on the tripod or tracked and wheeled armor vehicles. The Javelin missile system is operated by a crew of two.
The missile has an infrared imaging guidance system. It locks on the target before launch. During flight it guides automatically. During that time the operator can detach an empty tube and from the CLU and attach another tube with missile. It takes about 15 seconds. Alternatively the crew can leave a firing position.
There are two modes of attack: top attack and direct attack. The top-attack flight mode is used to engage tanks and other armored vehicles. After the launch the missile climbs upward and then dives towards the target. This method is very suitable to destroy main battle tanks, because most of them have only a minimum level of armor protection in the upper part of the turret. In direct attack mode the missile flies directly to the target. This mode is used to engage buildings, bunkers, weapon crews and concentrations of enemy troops. In the direct attack mode the Javelin can also engage low-flying helicopters.
The missile has an 8.4 kg tandem shaped charge warhead. A precursor warhead detonates any explosive reactive armor and the primary warhead penetrates the base armor. It can penetrate 800 mm of steel armor. So the Javelin is capable of destroying any existing main battle tank in the world.
Maximum firing range of the Javelin is 2 500 m. Recently the manufacturer developed a version of the Javelin with a range of 4 750 m.
There is a FGM-148F version, fitted with multi-purpose warhead. It is much more effective against enemy personnel, weapon crews, buildings and lightly armored or unarmored vehicles. This missile is still lethal against tanks.
Nr.5 HJ-12 (China)
The HJ-12 is a Chinese copy of the US Javelin. It was first publicly revealed in 2014. This Chinese missile has similar specifications and capabilities as the baseline FGM-148A Javelin. It is being proposed for export customers as a less expensive alternative to the Javelin.
It has a range of 2 500 m and penetrates 800 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor. This missile uses a similar infrared imaging guidance method as the Javelin, and attacks its targets from the top.
Actually there are more Chinese advanced anti-tank guided missiles, similar to the US Javelin that are being offered for export. These include GAM-100 and TS-01 anti-tank guided missiles. Though these are broadly similar to the HJ-12.
Nr.6 MAPATS (Israel)
The MAPATS is a man-portable anti-tank guided missile system, designed for use by infantry, vehicles, and helicopters. The name is short for MAn Portable Anti-Tank System, and "Mapats" is also Hebrew otomotopea for an explosion. Known operators of the MAPATS include Israel, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, and Venezuela.
Little of the origins of the MAPATS have been published. This weapon is clearly a derivative of the US-made BGM-71 TOW missile, but no assistance from the US military or defense industry in the development of the MAPATS has ever been mentioned. It was first unveiled to the public in 1984, and apparently entered service with the Israel Defense Forces in 1985.
Though it is easily confused with a BGM-71 TOW at first glance, the MAPATS has a different guidance. It is a laser-guided missile.
The original warhead was capable of penetrating 800 mm of steel armor, which was adequate to defeat any tank in service in the mid-1980s. Examples made from the early 1990s onward were re-armed with a tandem shaped charge warhead, capable of defeating 1 200 mm of steel armor after explosive reactive armor; enough penetration to defeat almost any tank in service today.
This missile has a range of 4 km.
Nr.7 Shershen (Belarus)
The Shershen (Hornet) is the Belarusian variant of the Ukrainian Skif anti-tank guided missile. It is manufactured in Belarus by a state-owned company. While both systems appear interchangeable the Ukrainian Skif and the Belarusian Shershen have slightly different applications.
This weapon uses laser guidance. Its RK-2S missile has a tandem shaped charge warhead. It penetrates 800 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor. Such penetration is more than enough for disabling current-generation main battle tanks. Maximum range of fire is up to 5.5 km.
Should the operator prefer the 152 mm P-2B missile for the Shershen the effective range stretches to an impressive 7 500 meters with a frightening penetration of 1 100 mm against rolled homogenous steel behind explosive reactive armor. During the night time the range is reduced to around 3 km.
Nr.8 Kornet-M (Russia)
The Kornet (Cornet) is a Russian anti-tank guided missile. It was first introduced in 1994. Western reporting name of this weapon is AT-14 or Spriggan. Its fearsome reputation is derived from its extreme range that’s far beyond most current anti-tank missiles. The FGM-148 Javelin, for example, can only deliver its lethal top attack warhead 2.5 kilometers away while the original Kornet-E developed by the Instrument Design Bureau (KBP) had a maximum range of 5.5 km. This weapon has been exported to a number of countries and was used in combat.
The Kornet’s tandem shaped charge warhead is just as intimidating for its size. With a 152 mm diameter it is one of the largest and most powerful anti-tank guided missile’s ever built. This feature is meant to defeat the threat posed by explosive reactive armor on modern tanks. It penetrates 1 000 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor.
Recently a new missile with thermobaric warhead was developed for this weapon. Production was planned to begin in 2019. It has a range of 5.5 km and is effective against buildings, bunkers, field fortifications and entrenched troops.
However despite significantly longer range the Russian Kornet is not that advanced in terms of guidance as other modern anti-tank guided missiles.
Nr.9 TOW 2 (United States)
The TOW 2 is a heavy anti-tank missile. It is used by the US Army since 1983 and proved to be a very effective weapon. This anti-tank weapon was exported to a number of countries. The TOW 2 remains a very capable anti-tank system despite the fact that this weapon is nearly 40 years old.
In the basic infantry form the TOW launcher is mounted on a portable tripod. The missile is carried in a sealed container. It is clipped to the launcher before the launch. The TOW 2 system is serviced by a crew of three soldiers, including commander, gunner and assistance gunner. The launcher can be disassembled and transported by the crew. In the US Army the TOW 2 launchers are typically used by separate anti-tank companies for heavy anti-armor work.
The TOW 2 missile is available in several versions and is produced in wireless and wire-guided forms. The wireless missiles require no special alterations to the launcher.
The BGM-71E missile has a tandem warhead and was specially designed to defeat tanks with explosive reactive armor. It has a range of 3.75 km and penetrates 900 mm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor.
The BGM-71F is a top-attack missile. It explodes above the tank to penetrate its thin top armor. It has a maximum range of 4.2 km.
The BGM-71H is a bunker-busting missile. It is used against buildings or fortified structures. This missile has a range of 3.75 km.
There are some other anti-tank missiles for this weapon. The TOW 2 launcher is compatible with all previous TOW missiles. This weapon has got a thermal imaging sight and can be used at night.
Nr.10 MILAN ER (France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom)
The Milan ER is a new development of the combat-proven MILAN anti-tank guided missile, that is in service in service for nearly 50 years and was adopted by more than 40 countries. This weapon uses a new launcher and more powerful missile with longer range. Development of this weapon began in 2005. The missile was ready for mass production in 2011. The MILAN ER has been selected by at least 3 existing operators of the MILAN system. Interestingly the French Army rejected the MILAN ER and went for a more advanced MMP anti-tank guided missile.
The MILAN ER uses a new firing post with integral thermal imager. The new launcher is compatible with previous variants of the MILAN missiles, including MILAN 2 and MILAN 3, and remains a wire-guided system. However judging by modern standards such guidance method is considered out-dated.
The new missile has a tandem shaped charge warhead. It penetrates 1 000 mm of steel armor behind Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA). Such penetration is sufficient to destroy even the most heavily armored main battle tanks. This missile is capable of penetrating more than 2 m of reinforced concrete. Hence it can be also used against troops in buildings, bunkers and field fortifications.