India advances indigenous tank-launched missile testing

Arjun MBT gun-launched missile test.
Arjun MBT gun-launched missile test.

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has successfully test fired an indigenous laser-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) from an Arjun main battle tank on 28 June, the MoD announced via the government’s Press Information Bureau on the same day.

The MoD stated that the latest trial evaluated the ATGM’s ability to engage targets at its minimum range. Earlier trials of the ATGM had assessed its performance at longer ranges.

The ATGM test was performed by the Indian Army and the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) using the army’s KK Ranges near Ahmednagar in western India. According to the MoD, the ATGM successfully defeated the target “at minimum ranges” and that “telemetry systems recorded satisfactory flight performance of the missile”, although it did not disclose specific details.

“Engaging the targets at lower ranges is a challenge due to the dimensional constraints of tank launched ATGMs, which has been successfully accomplished by the ATGM for MBT Arjun,” the MoD noted.

“With the trial, the ATGM’s capability to engage targets from minimum to maximum range has been established.”

The unnamed ATGM is being developed by the DRDO’s Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE), High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL), and the Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE).

The MoD earlier revealed that the ATGM is armed with a tandem high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead that can defeat armoured vehicles, including those fitted with explosive reactive armour (ERA). Earlier trials in September and October 2020 had tested its ability to engage targets at 3 and 5 kilometres away, respectively.

The Indian Army earlier trialled the Israeli-made IAI LAHAT ATGM in January 2004, which had been intended to arm the first production examples of the Arjun tank. However, that did not transpire and the service eventually used the jointly developed Invar ATGM aboard its large fleet of Russian T-72 and T-90 tanks. The weapon is based on the Russian 9M119M Refleks 125 mm laser-guided round and is locally produced by Bharat Dynamics Limited with support from Rosoboronexport.

by Jr Ng