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SS-10/AS.10/MGM-21 / SS-ll/AS.11/AGM-22 / SS-12/AS.12 Anti-tank Missile

SS-11 Wire Guided Anti-Tank MissileDuring the Cold War tanks assumed the main role in ground combat. Therefore, the development of various types of antitank missiles to cope with tanks, armor, and tank clusters at different distances, as well as attacks on in-depth targets, naturally antitank missiles receive greater attention. By the end of the Cold War, three generations of antitank missiles had been developed. First-generation antitank missiles were deployed with troops in the late fifties and the early sixties. Wires to transmit commands, manually-controlled guidance, visual optical aiming, and visual optical tracking were used for the older type of antitank missiles. The typical models were the Sagger of the Soviet Union, the SS-11 of France, the Aboula of the FRG, the Alert Widimeter of the UK, the Malcala of Austria, the Mosquito of Switzerland, and the Bantam of Sweden. Today, the vast majority of missiles applying this guidance method have been retired.

The French were the first to place in production a wire guided missile, the Nord 5200, which was designated eventually as the SS.10. The French SS.10 was so good and cheap (about $1000 dollars) that the US Army bought the SS.10 from French production lines, at a time when the US government seldom allowed the purchase of any non-USA item. The SS.10 was soon followed by the SS.11 which for a long time was the most produced guided missile in the world, not only being produced in France but by over a dozen other nations under license. US Army interest in the SS.11 began in September 1958 after the cancellation of the SSM-A-23 Dart anti-tank missile. The SS.10 was then followed by the ENTAC and then the SS.12, with a warhead equal to a 155mm artillery shell (though many considered the SS.12 too heavy for antitank employment).

The SS-10/ll missile systems belong to a family of Army weapons characterized by a wire-guided control system, man-operated rather than computer-controlled throughout the flight of the missile. The fact that a man, rather than an automatic control device, is charged with quick, accurate adjustment of the missile trajectory places an unusual requirement upon the human operator -- a requirement that differs significantly from that of firing a traditional weapon with relatively well defined ballistic trajectory.

By the early 1960s the most widely used of the direct-fire wire-guided missiles wes the SS-I0, developed by the French and adopted by most of the NATO nations. The SS-10 missile was a light, self-propelled, auto-rotating, remote-control guided missile intended for use against ground targets. It was primarily an anti-tank weapon but could be used effectively against personnel, gun emplacements, roadblocks, and fortifications. The missile was brought into alignment with and guided toward the target by the gunner who generates the guidance commands by means of a manually operated control stick. Transmission of commands from the guidance equipment to the missile is effected by two electrical wires which unwind from within the missile during its flight.

The missile is launched and propelled by two solid propellant rocket motors. The booster motor launches and accelerates the missile to its required velocity; the sustainer motor maintains the missile at its cruising speed. The SS-lO, equipped with an instantaneous fuse which detonates the warhead on impact, can be launched from the ground, from a vehicle, from a helicopter or other aircraft flying slowly at low altitude. Total weight of the missile, warhead included, was 33 pounds. The cruising speed was subsonic.

The SS-11 (redesignated the XM-22) is a lightweight remote-controlled wire-guided missile. Although primarily an antitank weapon, it can be used effectively against personnel, gun emplacements, strong points, roadblocks, and fortifications. ' In the SS-11/UH-1 weapons system the missile is launched by a gunner sitting next to the helicopter pilot. The gunner controls the path of the missile during its flight; movements of the gunner's control stick are transmitted as electrical signals through wires that unwind from the missile to guidance blades, regulating the deflection of missile exhaust gases.

The SS-11 missile, a French antitank development of the aid-1950's, incorporates a two-strand wire guidance link that was unwound from the missile wire bobbins during the missile flight. Electrical comiand signals were sent along the guidance wire to the missile in flight. The missile pilot (gunner) originates the signals by manipulation of the missile guidance set "Joy stick" from within the aircraft. An anti-vscillation (stabilized) sight is available for heliopter use with the SS-l1 missile.

During the flight of the missile the gunner's line of sight to the target must be unobstructed and the path of the SS-11 must be free from trees, brush, and other obstacles that might detonate the missile or alter its trajectory. The SS-11 is equipped with an inertia-type of fuze that detonates the warhead of the missile on impact. The ranges of engagement at which the SS-11 is most effective exceed 1000 m because of difficulties in visually acquiring the missile in the gunner's tracking sight during early flight.

The gunner's task represented an extreme departure from the firing of traditional weapons. The major difference is the considerably longer period during which the gunner controlled the flight of the missile. During this period the gunner may be influenced by many environmental factors, such as distance of target from gunner, movement of the target, visibility of the target, etc. Analysis of engineering and user test shot records performed for several ATGM systems (SS-I0, SS-11, and ENMAC) revealed that the combination of environmental conditions existing at the time a shot was made did indeed exert an influence upon the outcome of the shot. In effect, shots made under varying sets of conditions were of unequal difficulty, an experimental condition which would add error to a hit-miss score.

In 1958 the US Army Aviation Board completed testing of the AS.10 Antitank Guided Missile (ATGM) installed on the H-13H Helicopter. It was concluded that the helicopter-mounted SS-10 system was suitable for US Army use. It was recommended that it be classified Standard, Modernization Code B (STD-B), that certain deficiencies be corrected prior to procure- ment, and that organization and basis of issue be determined by tho US. The sight, guidance equipment, and missile firing controls are installed at the copilot position of the UH-I helicopter.

In May 1962, US Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara assembled a board led by Lieutenant General Hamilton Howze. The Army Tactical Mobility Requirements Board, or "Howze Board" as it was commonly called, recommended development of a specially designed armed helicopter as an offshoot of its study of the French SS-11 antitank missile. Although the SS-11 was considered a marginal weapon system at the time of the report, improvements to antitank missiles were ongoing and the board felt the time for an armed helicopter was close at hand.

By 1969 there had been a fairly extensive disagreement between the British Army and the R.A.F. about who should arm helicopters designed, for tank busting or attack from air. Air cavalry the Americans called it an evocative and descriptive phrase. When the argument was settled, and it would be the business of the Army to arm helicopters for tank busting. Having arrived at this point, the Army was naturally, in a hurry to arm the helicopters. What weapon should be used? There was a choice of two.

Either the British Army could buy the French SS11, or use Swingfire. The difference between the two was clear. Nord-Aviation absolutely depend on the order. It would, reduce the price to peanuts to sell the SS11. It was immensely important to that company. But it so happened that the SS11 is obsolescent. On the British side, Swingfire might or might not cost a little more. And it is a second-generation weapon, infinitely more efficacious, with a two to one cost-efficiency advantage over the French and with a guidance system which is so much better that it is not in the same league. The SS11 was bought because it is the only proved system now available to meet an urgent operational requirement in B.A.O.R. The question of weapon systems for the next generation of helicopters would be considered in the light of all the operational and financial factors, and the capabilities of Swingfire would be taken into account.

Typical second-generation antitank missiles used optical aiming, infrared tracking, wire transmission of commands, and semiautomatic guidance. More sophisticated anti-tank guided missile systems that were being adopted for use on high-speed attack helicopters did not require the gunner to continuously estimate the spatial location and direction of motion of the in-flight missile relative to the target as was required with the SS-11 missile. The missile position error relative to the gunner's line of sight is automatically and continuously monitored by missile guidance equipment mounted on the aircraft, and electrical signals required to correct the missile flight to the gunner's line of sight are transmitted to the missile until target impact is achieved. The missile gunner, using the aircraft-mounted sighting equipment, was required to continuously track the target from the time of missile launching until the missile flight is completed.

Third-generation antitank missiles developed since the eighties are missiles employing millimeter wave or infrared guidance, terminal guidance dispenser and bomblets, sensitive terrain-following missiles, and terminal-guidance artillery rounds. These are multiple novel precision guidance weapons with fire-and-forget capability.

SS-10 Wire Guided Anti-Tank Missile SS-11 Wire Guided Anti-Tank Missile SS-11 TCA Wire Guided Anti-Tank Missile SS-12 Wire Guided Anti-Tank Missile SS-12 M Wire Guided Anti-Tank Missile



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