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

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

ATGM II. [Conclusion]

This is coolbert:

From the comments of a reader to the blog:

[my responses in BOLD!!]

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

Those figures are based upon the experience of ATGM gunners using the first generation MCLOS guidance. Hard to do as you must track simultaneously the target and missile. Later generations [up to fifth generation now] ATGM are MUCH more advanced with regard to guidance.

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

Some of those ATGM are expensive to shoot of themselves. I recall during the Falkland Islands War [1982], the British employed single Milan ATGM to destroy Argentinian bunkers. Was considered to be bad form as each missile cost $20,000 per shot. NOT cheap but was effective. In the 1970's, just firing the main gun on a Chieftain tank cost $4,000 per shot!! NOBODY said war was cheap!

"ATGM's provide a psychological benefit for infantry that possess them."

Egyptian forces prior to 1973 were found by the Israeli to be particularly susceptible to "tank fright". Uncontrolled panic created when infantry [Egyptians] faced tanks [Israeli] for which they had no counter. This "tank fright" syndrome came to an abrupt end in 1973 with the widespread use of the Soviet AT-3 "suitcase" Sagger.

[this "fright" can work both ways. Those Soviet ATGM out-ranged the main gun on the Israeli megach [M-48 and M-60] tanks. Also, Soviet intelligence had bought the unclassified technical manuals for the U.S. M-48 tank and found a weak spot that when struck by a HEAT round, caused scalding hot hydraulic fluid to course through the crew compartment, killing the entire tank crew!!]

"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."

This is all true. The ATGM has had a marked effect on modern battlefield tactics and doctrine. Especially with regard to combined arms. Armor CANNOT move by itself on the battlefield without having supporting infantry, artillery, close air support and air defense nearby and integrated into a combat team.

The Israeli Merkava was obviously designed FROM THE START WITH THE COMBINED ARMS CONCEPT IN MIND. The ability to defeat enemy units employing ATGM was very big on the mind of the Israeli General Tal. The incorporation of a rear compartment in the Merkava to accommodate a five man fire team, plus the addition to the tank's organic weaponry of a 60 mm mortar to be fired by the tank crew is evidence of this.

"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."

This has to be in the works right now. And the ATGM is of course in a constant state of design ferment. NEW guidance systems, new war heads, etc. Single HEAT, tandem HEAT, tandem heat with penetrator, etc. Always something to contend with on the battlefield.



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