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Tanks With Missiles


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#1 Weaver

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 0802 AM

Over the years, I seem to have seen many a picture of a tank with additional ATGWs added, usually on the rear of the turret. Examples which spring to mind are Vickers Mk.3 and Centurion with Vigilants or Swingfires, but I'm sure I've seem others.

Remarkable few of these prototypes ever made it to service. To the best of my knowledge, they are:

Sheridan/M60A2 with Shillelagh, which is not really the same thing,

T-** series tanks with AT-10/11/12 gun-launched weapons: same comment as above,

AMX-13 with 4 x SS-11 used by French army until replaced by VAB with HOTs.

It would seem to me that two or four ATGWs added to an otherwise standard MBT or light tank would add a useful extra capability at little cost other than money. So why do we think they havn't been more popular?

Edited by Weaver, 02 February 2005 - 1108 AM.


#2 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 0817 AM

Having served on both the Sheridan and M60A2, I'd submit that two reasons are: 1. ATGM's as an addon to a "true" MBT with a real tank killing gun is redundant and calls for a mess more engineering to incorporate into an existing design than just welding on a kit... and,

2. My experience (in RVN) is that appendages like grenade launchers, flotation equipment, accessory racks, etc...are vulnerable enough to real life operations in the bush or wood...ATGM launchers would be big items begging to get knocked off by the next tree. And if it's more "integral" to a new design, would greatly increase the size, and target area, of the turret. A good MBT design doesn't NEED an ATGM, it should already have an adequate weapon.

My .$02

#3 Guest_Mike Steele_*

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 0953 AM

Doug makes a good point. The problems that were inherent to the Sheridan/A2 came from the fact that the technoligy wouldnt permit a weapon smaller than 152mm at the time. The electronics simply weren't able to shrunk to the size possible today. The same weapon was planned for use in the XM-803, and that might have actually worked (with missle and conventional) I was part of a study group that was intended to capture what technoligy from that program could be passed on to the A3 upgrade and oncomming M1 projects. The missle didn't even make the cut because of the folks in the group that had been on Sheridians I suppose. :lol: Things that did make it were the long rod penetrator, and enhanced shoot on the move capibilities. Witha 120mm gun I would suppose that we could revisit it, maybe for a GPS/active seeker weapon. :huh:

#4 Weaver

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1119 AM

I was kinda ruling out the gun-launched weapons since I think it pans out at:

Sheridan/M60A2: gun compromised by missile,

T-55/62/72 et al: missile compromised by gun. (Possibly)

I know that modern FCS has raised feasible gun ranges out beyond 3000m, but in the days when 2000m was about the limit (the 105mm gun days, I guess) I'd have thought four 4000m Swingfires had something to offer.

The Vickers Mk.3 installation was very neat, with a vertical pair of Swingfires in an elevating box on either side of the turret bustle. IIRC, it didn't extend beyond the width of the hull (I'll have a look at the picture when I get home) so it was pretty tidy.

The French produced a prototype AMX-13 with three HOTs in armoured boxes on either side of the turret (upper part), but decided on the VAB-based solution instead, which carried twice as many missiles, but was wheeled and didn't have the HE or light anti-armour capability of the AMX-13's 75mm or 90mm gun.

#5 gary1910

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1203 PM

Correct me if I am wrong, it seem that is a trend to go for some form missile armed AFVs due to the fact that the armour protection of modern MBTs is increasing thru the years whereby tank guns is getting less & less in term of prob. of penetration.

It maybe in the future that even a DU 120mm APFSDS might not able to penetration the frontal armour of MBTs of the next decade(some already are).

One may argue that we should have a higher calibre gun, 140mm???
But this will induce higher weight and lesser ammo carry capacity MBTs and even less mobile for the larger gun MBT.

The Russian and the Israeli are arming their MBTs with tube launched missile for increase range and maybe the future with improve penetration.

In the future gun armed MBTs I think even be obsolete.

What do you guys think?

#6 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1228 PM

In the future gun armed MBTs I think even be obsolete.

What do you guys think?

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I think I've heard this several times over the last 35 years.
The advantages of an MBT armed with a tank killing GUN, is that the projectile gets there RIGHT NOW and with no possible interferance until it arrives. Additionally, it is much cheaper and relies on fewer and less complex electronics systems to function. I imagine that at some point "in the future" your suggestion may prove to be true, but "in the future" could amount to quite some time.

#7 istvan47

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1302 PM

there are always several reasons to have a missile in a tank. Not if the missile compromises teh tank gun design, but if an tank can get a missile=guided shell, why is wrong?
A missile could be used to threat a helicopter, or to hit a tank at ranges too great for the gun. Obvious that the modern tank guns are enough for the most types of targets but if the "western " guns are so perfect why the Israelis offers guided missiles for tank guns? Why there are so many types of guided ammo for artillery, naval guns, etc?
i think that the Shillelagh and the ACRA were wrong concepts, but if the missile could be fitted in a normal tank gun why this is a problem? Because the US haven't trust on this concept futher the Sheridan-M60A2?
The most part of the tanks in the world costs less than the FCS alone of a last gen. western tank. And what hell the AMX 13-75s could strike by 3000 mt a MBTs with their guns?
For me, it's like to say that a A-10 don't need the mavericks because the GAU could take out every tank...

#8 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1347 PM

there are always several reasons to have a missile in a tank. Not if the missile compromises teh tank gun design, but if an tank can get a missile=guided shell, why is wrong?
A missile could be used to threat a helicopter, or to hit a tank at ranges too great for the gun. Obvious that the modern tank guns are enough for the most types of targets but if the "western " guns are so perfect why the Israelis offers guided missiles for tank guns? Why there are so many types of guided ammo for artillery, naval guns, etc?
i think that the Shillelagh and the ACRA were wrong concepts,

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1. No, there aren't. There is one reason to have a missile in a tank, and that's if the gun (or it's ammo...see Number 2. below) is inadequate to the tank defeating role.

2. Air Defense has been tried, but is a mission better performed by vehicles, or men, armed with dedicated weapons suited to that purpose. As to:
"why the Israelis offers guided missiles for tank guns?" ...because not everybody has current generation tank guns or access to DU penetrators.

3. Actually, Shillelagh was not a "wrong concept", but it was a crappy execution WAY ahead of the existing technology and one baby step behind TOW, which is better. And the M81 gun without the combustable case available at the time would have had some real potential in a heavier vehicle than the Sheridan...and maybe even there, in some applications.

Missiles on tanks aren't bad, just not necessary... if the gun/ammo combination is adequate and available.

#9 Andres Vera

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1533 PM

The LAHAT is great for the kind of enemy the Israelies might be facing in the next ten years. The great thing of the missile is that it can be fired (and guided) on a turret down position because it can be guided by infantry with laser designators or UAVs. As for its anti tank role I'm guessing that it could be usefull in some situations, especially if you are targeting a Syrian T-72 5000m away.

#10 Gavin Phillips

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1625 PM

The LAHAT is great for the kind of enemy the Israelies might be facing in the next ten years. The great thing of the missile is that it can be fired (and guided) on a turret down position because it can be guided by infantry with laser designators or UAVs. As for its anti tank role I'm guessing that it could be usefull in some situations, especially if you are targeting a Syrian T-72 5000m away.

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That idea reminds me of the Copperhead missile principle. Firing the missile conventionally (155mm artillery gun?) and the missile itself being guided onto target by another target designator?

Well I aint no expert, but the way I see it is that if you have a tank and its capable of firing missiles, you'd most likely use them for targets that are some distance away, or against targets that are deemed a high threat level (ie someone elses topline MBT).

#11 Guest_Mike Steele_*

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1638 PM

That idea reminds me of the Copperhead missile principle.  Firing the missile conventionally (155mm artillery gun?) and the missile itself being guided onto target by another target designator?

Well I aint no expert, but the way I see it is that if you have a tank and its capable of firing missiles, you'd most likely use them for targets that are some distance away, or against targets that are deemed a high threat level (ie someone elses topline MBT).

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There's work currently in progress on a GPS round, so I would expect the emapsis on laser guidance for fall off some. I would imagine that once the technoligy works it could be ported over to a tank round without much effort. What I'd like to see developed is a round with seeker subprojectiles, similar to the older Assault breaker for the MLRS.

#12 Weaver

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 1756 PM

Okay, found the picture of the Vickers MBT in it's "AFV Weapons Profile" pamphlet, dating from 1973 :D

Apparently, the Vickers MBT program grew out of a private venture project for a 24 tonnes light tank armed with a 20-pdr gun and eight Vigilant ATGWs in the turret bustle which would be elevated individually through a hatch in the roof to their firing position.

The idea was dropped before any hardware was built as the advent of the 105mm L7 gun made the 2000m range Vigilant redundant, and attention switched to the 40 tonne Mk.1 tank which would be effectively a "British Leopard" for export to countries who found the Centurion too heavy and slow and who couldn't afford the up and coming Chieftain.

In 1966 Vickers collaberated with BAC to produce a Mk.2 armed with four 4000m range Swingfires. The weapons were to be fitted in two vertical pairs of boxes either side of the turret bustle and would elevate to fire. In the picture I've got (sorry, can't put it up - no scanner) the missile boxes don't appear to be any wider than the standard turret stowage bins. There's a second vehicle in the background which I think is a Centurion with the same kit, but in this case, the boxes appear to be fixed in the elevated position and there's a box the size of two reloads (but no saying that's what it actually is) on the back of the turret.

The vehicle was never put into production (doesn't say why) and Vickers then went on to develop the conventional Mk.3.

#13 bigfngun

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 2010 PM

Obvious that the modern tank guns are enough for the most types of targets but if the "western " guns are so perfect why the Israelis offers guided missiles for tank guns? Why there are so many types of guided ammo for artillery, naval guns, etc?
i think that the Shillelagh and the ACRA were wrong concepts, but if the missile could be fitted in a normal tank gun why this is a problem? Because the US haven't trust on this concept futher the Sheridan-M60A2?
The most part of the tanks in the world costs less than the FCS alone of a last gen. western tank.  And what hell the AMX 13-75s could strike by 3000 mt a MBTs with their guns?

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OK Istvan pay close attention. We know you are a citizen of the world and you are completely impartial :rolleyes: but you tend to get your panties tight when you detect any slight real or imagined against Russian weapons. The opinions against tank launched missiles on this thread have come from experience with Western attempts in the 60s and 70s. They have extrapolated that a compromise is a compromise whether it is western or eastern. The US had a system that compromised gun performance for the sake of the missile, and some members here believe that the Russian system compromised the missile for gun performance. This was not an attempt to say all gun/missile combos will fail just that it might be more trouble than it's worth. I personally think a gun launched ATGM (assuming it works) is a good complement to KE rounds. Relax Istvan it will be okay.

#14 Xonitex

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 0026 AM

What was the performance (penetration/range/speed/accuracy/cost) of the Shillegah (or however you spell it) ATGM itself? Is the M551 a poor execution more due to problems stemming from the missile? (I know about the gun/protection/weight problems of the chassis.)

#15 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 0041 AM

What was the performance (penetration/range/speed/accuracy/cost) of the Shillegah (or however you spell it) ATGM itself?  Is the M551 a poor execution more due to problems stemming from the missile?  (I know about the gun/protection/weight problems of the chassis.)

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Penetration-good
range-good, about 3,500 meters in real world and perfect conditions.
speed-ABOMINABLY SLOW, flight time at real world ranges was measured in seconds, quite a few seconds...bad if there are multiple tanks looking for you.
accuracy-good, it the guidance system was tight, rare on a Sheridan.
cost-like blowing up a new car every time you pulled the trigger.

The missile wasn't BAD, apart from being slow. But the guidance system was not nearly as reliable as TOW, which came later. And the electronics on the lightweight Sheridan (with a gun like a 155 howitzer) led a tough life. It was better on the M60A2...the extra ~35 tons helped. Also, I cannot imagine any TC EVER selecting the Shillelagh in combat in a night action if he had a conventional round. Personally, I'd have never selected the missile in ANY tank-to-tank engagement if I had a HEAT round available and the target was in reasonable range. Thankfully, it never came to that.

#16 Weaver

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 0448 AM

Another advantage of adding ATGWs to the AMX-13 is that that vehicle has an externally-loaded auto-loader with just 12 rounds in it, so the SS-11s gave a 30% increase in ready-to-fire rounds.

Given it's "tank destroyer" mission, I can't see how an SK-105 (same turret as AMX-13 but with 105mm gun) would be worse off with 6 x HOTs than without them: 50% increase in ready rounds and about 1000m longer initial engagement range.

#17 Vasiliy Fofanov

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 0555 AM

There are quite a number of issues to consider here, stating "main gun is just fine" is really not nearly profound enough. Let me offer just some possible issues to look at, not really exhaustive:

1) Missile provides a MAJOR upgrade potential to obsolete weapons, completely beyond what can otherwise be expected of a gun. Even direct fire tank missiles of today are surprisingly powerful, for instance a new T-62-fired missile penetrates in excess of 850mm RHA, with major reduction in performance of special armor arrays of almost any kind. The 125mm missile built with the same technology penetrates about a meter, again, with very bad effect on special armor. That, at any LOS range.

2) Missiles allow to have significant savings on complexity of the armament and FCS, allowing to save both the weight and cost of the system. Which in turn allows to either increase armor or reduce the weight of the chassis, both of which has its uses. And who actually said that modern tank armament should be optimized to fight tanks? What for? Are there any Fulda Gap scenarios still on the boards anywhere?

3) If we consider terminal targetting principles with side- or top-attack profiles, missiles furthermore allow to bypass main tank armor completely, essentially making the tank's protection irrelevant.

4) If we consider BLOS targetting principles and loitering solutions, the effective range of tank armament is extended to 15 km and beyond, without big degradation of effectiveness.

In other words, not only there is nothing wrong with ATGM on a tank, in fact lack of any work in this field would show rigidity of a given national tank school. Fortunately, there is not a single serious such school that isn't mulling at least some kind of such solution, US no exception.

#18 istvan47

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 1020 AM

Ok Bigfgun, who say that i am impartial?

mmh.. i think that Vassily has already spoke all is needed to say about the missiles in a tank.

personally i think that there is nothing wrong with a guided ammo and this is the case of a ATGM. IF the ammo don't compromise the layout of the gun, like happened with the D 81-152mm of the Shillelagh tanks, there is no reason to haven't a guided missile on a tank. Perhaps is a discutible concept to have rails external on a MBT because they are too vulnerable, but also this could be said for the huge periscopes of a normal FCS. In every chase, after having experienced with external missiles and specified tank-hunters with missiles, i think that the russians done hte right thing with missiles used as normal ammo. This not compromise at all the employ of the normal HE-AP rounds, and tell me if there was a better system to knok out a TOW platform, both hovering helicopter and land based veicle. The AA systems in a real baatle have the tendency to not be available when needed.
To say that the US experiences in the 60s were sayng all about the missiles in a tank is simply ridicoulous: rougly like to say that in the 60s there was enough experience to exclude the existence of PCs and cellphone.

#19 Doug Kibbey

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 1122 AM

To say that the US experiences in the 60s were sayng all about the missiles in a tank is simply ridicoulous: rougly like to say that in the 60s there was enough experience to exclude the existence of PCs and cellphone.

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That is not what he said. What he said was: "The opinions against tank launched missiles on this thread have come from experience with Western attempts in the 60s and 70s. They have extrapolated that a compromise is a compromise whether it is western or eastern."

This does not mean that the experience of the '60 settled the issue once and for all, it means that the opinions expressed on this subject by, among others, myself, were formed during the '60's and '70's owing to direct personal experience....not that the conclusion derived then resolved the matter for all time. Forgive me, but it seems to me that you are straining to find argument and be offended where it is not at all necessary. And for the record, nobody said that missiles or other guided weapons on any tank, ever, would be BAD. A careful reading of the posts in this thread should convince you of that.

The original poster asked a valid question....Dude, lighten up.

#20 Xonitex

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Posted 03 February 2005 - 1314 PM

I think it may be a matter of necessity, depending on what sort of equipment is available to you. If you have ammunition like the M829A2+ that is pretty much guaranteed to make first-hit kills reliably against enemy tanks, then ATGMs may be too expensive. However, I think Vasiliy makes a good point when he says that ATGMs can elevate the lethality of many older weapons systems. If the enemy is employing superior tanks, ATGMs provide for a readily-available increase in AT capabilities than can even out the battlefield (hell, all you need is a platform from which to shoot the missile). Their greater range may also make them more useful in a defensive role.

The US, with its M829-series and its Abrams, doesn't particularly need ATGMs on its tanks. Same goes for many other countries employing tanks firing 120mm Western ammunition (although no one is really sure how their rounds will perform yet, with the exception of the UK). When you have huge numbers of older tanks, though, and want to increase their firepower without heavy expenses, a gun-launched ATGM seems like a good solution.




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