Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, August 27, 2007


This is coolbert:

Beginning with the development [World War Two] of the German X-7 wire guided anti-tank-guided-missile [ATGM], followed by the post-war French SS-10, it was now possible for your average, everyday infantry to counter enemy tanks, even at long range.

[close range battle between infantry and tanks was possible prior to that, using the panzerfaust type of rocket, firing a shaped charge round. But ONLY at very close range, less than 200 meters or so. The ATGM allowed for the infantry to engage and destroy enemy tanks at extreme range, out to 2000 meters in some instances!!]

These ATGM, first generation, were wire-guided, using what is called MCLOS for guidance.

MCLOS (short for Manual Command to Line of Sight)

NOT, however, an easy system to use. Required a highly skilled operator, the gunner, to steer and guide the missile [via trailing wires] to the target [the enemy tank]. A gunner who needed to acquire and track the missile and the target simultaneously. NOT an easy task. The weapon [ATGM] was effective and could defeat any known armor at long range, but was hard to use.

"the operator must track the missile and the target simultaneously and guide the missile to the target . . . MCLOS requires considerable training and practice to master"

Even a later version of the ATGM that used MCLOS, the Soviet AT-3 "Sagger" remained a weapon requiring a lot of skill to use effectively.

"While early estimates of the missile hitting the target ranged from 90% to 60%, experience has shown that it is really between 25% and 2% depending on the situation and skill of the operator. MCLOS requires considerable skill on the part of the operator: reportedly it takes 2,300 simulated firings to become proficient with the missile as well as 50 to 60 simulated firings a week to maintain the skill level."

[it was observed by the Israeli during the Yom Kippur/Ramadan war of 1973 that during "lulls" in the fighting, Egyptian ATGM gunners would maintain proficiency via simulator trucks actually BROUGHT TO THE FRONT LINES FOR THAT PURPOSE!!]

In training:

* 60% to 90% hit probability.

In actual combat:

* 2% to 25% hit probability.

What is this? Well, as Dupuy would say, you CANNOT replicate in training the actual conditions of combat. In training, the fear of death on the battlefield is not present and cannot be duplicated. When firing at a target with an ATGM as part of an exercise or training, the "enemy" is not shooting back and trying to kill you.

Those figures as to "hit probability" tell me that an ATGM gunner on the battlefield is only about 1/5th as effective in actual combat as he is in training??

Your hands are shaking, you are breathing deeply, you are keeping your head down!!

Well, sure, intuitively so, this is HOW it is!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though ATGM gunners are only 1/5 as effective in combat as in training, I believe that this is still pretty good.

ATGMs can destroy a very expensive piece of equipment and kill a trained crew for a relatively low cost. Rockets are cheaper than tanks.

ATGM's provide a psychological benefit for infantry that possess them. You actually have a way to destroy these metal monsters! If you are smart, with 2 or 3 teams, you can set up a killing zone for enemy armor depending on the terrain and maybe remain unseen.

As for the guys in the tanks, maybe it makes them a little more nervous knowing that there could be hidden troops with anti-tank weapons that have a long range. They don't feel so invulnerable. If it makes enemy TCs uptight then it is worth every penny.

Even thought they have the Javelin now, which is electronically guided, the wire guided stuff can't be jammed. A friend of mine said that despite some shortcomings, like weight, the Javelin worked pretty well on enemy armor. He even dumped a few into some buildings to clear out some stubborn individuals who were preventing them from maintaining a timely schedule. It is fire and forget, as they say, so you can launch a rocket at an enemy tank and then move somewhere else for wither a follow up shot/somewhere safer.

I have no doubt that in the future, there will be hunter robots armed with these things or controlled remotely. An ATV or jeep-sized autonomous robot with say 10 ATGMs on it would be cheap to build and could wreak havoc on an enemy armored column.

8:58 AM


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