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HOT (Haut subsonique Optiquement Téléguidé Tiré d'un Tube)

The economic interest group (GIE) joint venture Euromissile was created under French law in 1972 by Germany's Messerschmitt-Boelkow-Blohm [later Daimler-Benz Aerospace (DASA)] and France's Aerospatiale SA. Since the mid-1970s, and to this day, the Milan and Hot anti-tank weapons and the Roland surface-to-air system have been highly successful. The HOT (Haut subsonique Optlquement teleguide tire d'un Tube) anti-tank system was developed by Euromissile for the French and German armies for use on land vehicles and helicopters.

The French-built equivalent of the American TOW missile was the HOT — for Haut Subsonique Optiquement Teleguide Tire d'Un Tube — missile, which was standard equipment in the French arid West German armies. In the early 1980s Germany began refitting most vehicle-mounted antitank weapons systems with HOT missiles.

Antitank missile systems are intended for engaging enemy armored targets on the battlefield. With small overall dimensions, they have a sufficient maximum range of fire (up to 4,000 m), high target hit probability(0.7-0.8) and considerable armor penetration (500-700mm). The missiles are the main component of antitank missile systems that also include launch equipment, a sight and control apparatus. Modern systems are so-called second-generation systems that had a semi-automated control system (the operator just follows the targets, keeping it in the crosshairs of the sight, and the missile is guided by commands that are issued automatically by the control apparatus and transmitted to it by wires). First-generation models with hand control systems required the tracking of both the target and the missile, which considerably complicated the work of the operator, who guided the missile with the aid of a handle on the control panel. This in turn reduced the hit probability, especially if it was maneuvered on the battlefield.

Work was done to improve these systems (which received the designations TOW-2, Milan-2 and Hot-2) at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. They are equipped with thermal imaging sights and were intended for firing under night-time conditions. In particular, the diameters and mass of the hollow-charge warheads were increased, pins were installed in the nose to ensure the detonation of the charge at the distance from the barrier optimal for the formation of the hollow-charge jet and, consequently, armor penetration was increased. They were equipped with infrared sights for night firing.

From 1978 through 1983 a total of 316 Raketen-jagdpanzer mounts were rearmed with the more modern HOT antitank missile systems with a semi-automatic guidance system. This SP antitank missile system was designated the Jaguar-1. Its carried unit of ?re consistsof 20 HOT missiles (range of ?re 4,000 m), which subsequently began to be replaced by the improved version, the HOT-2. The groundforces of France had over 130 Mephisto self-propelled systems (using the VABwheeled armored personnel carrier and 12 Hots). By the end of the Cold War antitank missile systems in the inventory of ground forces of NATO countries in the Central European sector belonged to the so-called second generation (the ATGM's have a semi-automatic guidance system). The principal ones were the TOW (in the inventory of ground forces of the United States, the FRG, the Netherlands and Canada), HOT (FRG), Milan (FRG, Great Britain and Belgium) and Dragon (United States and the Netherlands).

By the end of the Cold War in the Army Aviation of the FEG Ground Forces there were over 200 B0-105P helicopters armed with the HOT (firing range up to 4 km). In Great Britain the Lynx helicopters were being re-equipped for use as antitank weapons (each can carry eight TOW or HOT). The French Army Aviation was armed with the combat helicopters SA-342M Gazelle with the HOT.

Operation "Peace for Galilee," the Israeli offensive into Lebanon, ran into stiffer resistance than expected, with the well-equipped Syrian Army acting as the opposing force. The afternoon of 08 June 1982 saw a new unfamiliar weapon make its battlefield debut in an attempt to halt the Israeli column -- French-manufactured GAZELLE combat helicopters carrying HOT antitank missiles with a range of more than four kilometers. It was the first time the Arabs had ever employed helicopter gunships against Israeli forces.

The first Syrian GAZELLE appeared at 1530 just south of Ein Zehalta (35 km southeast of Beirut). The Israeli tank crews never saw their attackers' approach but felt their sting when a GAZELLE unmasked, fired two missiles, and stopped the lead company in its tracks. The first two M-60 tanks erupted in flames. As the Israelis attempted to extract the wounded crews, another GAZELLE popped up and sent two missiles into the column, knocking out still two more tanks. he Israeli column quickly began to resemble a scene out of Dante's inferno. The company commander of the lead unit recalled the situation as "utter confusion... (being) unable to spot the source of the incoming antitank missile fire and not knowing what, to do in response." The Israeli advance was halted for over six hours: six hours that allowed the Syrians to reconstitute the next set of defensive positions.

Its advocates argue that it was a well-engineered weapon which produced good results on helicopters which is why it was to be hoped that there would be a certain continuity and above all that there would be good prospects for counterparts. In the early 1980s the HOT seemed to be slightly superior to the TOW. Both of them are wire-guided but the European missile is semiautomatic and considerably more modern; besides, it had a better night vision system and greaterrange. The cruising engine system and the jet nozzle system furthermore guaranteed the HOT a more uniform and more easily controlled flight. Work was being done on the development of the TOW-2 which was expected to beoperational in the mid-1980s.

The Swiss Federal Military Department's 1981 choice of the American TOW antitank missile over the HOT missile produced by the French state-owned company Aerospatiale prompted the latter to release a "Swiss dossier" in which it contended that "shadowy action must now be taken" to get Swiss authorities to reconsider their decision. This decision obviously irritated the French arms industry. It not only entailed the loss of a billion-French franc contract, but spokesmen for the manufacturer of the HOT antitank missile claimed it could also indirectly prejudice other armed forces against this missile and thus prompt them to select another missile system.

In its "Swiss dossier," Euromissile's French member, Aerospatiale, explained that in 1978 and 1980, the Swiss had selected the Dragon [American shoulder-fired antitank missile] and the Rapier[British surface-to-air missile] over Euromissile's Milan and Roland missiles, both of which had apparently not been "earnestly evaluated by Switzerland," As a result, Euromissile had lost Swiss contracts totaling some 3.9 billion French francs.

The HOT Mephisto system consists of a launcher and four ready-to-launch 4,000 m range HOT missiles. When travelling it is retracted into the vehicle so that the top of the launcher is almost flush with the roof, making identification of a vehicle fitted with the Mephisto system very difficult. The HOT Mephisto system has been designed by Euromissile to meet the requirements of the French Army where it is mounted on the now Renault Trucks Defense VAB (4 × 4) APC, but it can be fitted to many other types of APC such as the Panhard VCR (4 × 4). It was also installed for trials on a MOWAG Piranha (8 × 8) APC.A total of 24 of these systems were deployed by the French Army (12 per regiment) during Operation Desert Storm in 1991; more than 150 missiles were launched with a claimed hit rate of around 80 percent.

The one-man UTM 800 turret has four HOT ATGWs ready to launch and, in the case of the Panhard VCR (6 × 6), 10 missiles carried internally in reserve. This turret has been designed as a private venture by Euromissile for AFVs in the 5,000 to 12,000 kg class, such as the BAE Systems M113, Renault Trucks Defense VAB (4 × 4 and 6 × 6) and Panhard VCR (6 × 6) APCs. For trials purposes it has also been installed on a MOWAG Piranha (8 × 8) vehicle. This system is not used by the French Army who selected the Euromissile HOT Mephisto Anti-Tank Guided Weapon (ATGW) system.

Hot was officially selected in 1997 by France and Germany to be mounted on the new Franco-German Tiger helicopter.





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