MILAN (French: Missile d'infanterie léger antichar; English: Light anti-tank infantry missile, milan is French for kite) is a Western European anti-tank guided missile. Design of the MILAN started in 1962, it was ready for trials in 1971, and was accepted for service in 1972. It is a wire guided SACLOS (semi-automatic command to line-of-sight) missile, which means the sight of the launch unit has to be aimed at the target to guide the missile. The MILAN can be equipped with a MIRA or MILIS thermal sight to give it night-firing ability.
|Place of origin||France / West Germany|
|Used by||See operators|
|Wars||South African Border War|
Western Sahara War
Lebanese Civil War
2003 invasion of Iraq
Libyan Civil War
Northern Mali Conflict
Syrian Civil War
Iraqi Civil War
2017 Iraqi–Kurdish conflict
|Manufacturer||MBDA, MKEK (under license)|
|Unit cost||£7,500 (1984)|
|No. built||350,000 missiles, 10,000 launchers|
|Mass||16.4 kg |
|Warhead||Single or tandem HEAT|
3,000 m (MILAN ER)
MILAN is a product of Euromissile, a Franco-West German missile development program dating back to the 1960s. The system entered service in 1972 as a second generation anti-tank weapon and soon became a standard anti-tank weapon throughout NATO, in use by most of the alliance's individual armies.
Consisting of two main components, the launcher and the missile, the MILAN system utilizes a semi-automatic command to line of sight (SACLOS) command guidance system. It tracks the missile either by a tail-mounted infrared lamp or an electronic-flash lamp, depending on the model. Because it is guided by wire by an operator, the missile cannot be affected by radio jamming or flares. However, drawbacks include its short range, the exposure of the operator, problems with overland powerlines, and a vulnerability to infrared jammers such as Shtora that can prevent the automatic tracking of the missile's IR tail light.
The MILAN 2 variant, which entered service with the French, German and British armies in 1984, utilizes an improved 115 mm HEAT warhead. The MILAN 3 entered service with the French army in 1995 and features a new-generation localizer that makes the system more difficult to jam electronically.
- MILAN 1: Single, main shaped charge warhead (1972), calibre 103 mm
- MILAN 2: Single, main shaped charge warhead, with standoff probe to increase penetration (1984) – see photo to right, calibre 115 mm
- MILAN 2T: Single main shaped charge, with smaller shape charge warhead at end of standoff probe to defeat reactive armour (1993)
- MILAN 3: Tandem, shaped charge warheads (1996) and electronic beacon
- MILAN ER: Extended range (3,000 m) and improved penetration
The later MILAN models have tandem HEAT warheads. This was done to keep pace with developments in Soviet armour technology – Soviet tanks began to appear with explosive reactive armour, which could defeat earlier ATGMs. The smaller precursor HEAT warhead penetrates and detonates the ERA tiles, paving the way for the main HEAT warhead to penetrate the armour behind.
MILAN missile systems were among the numerous weapons sent to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s by the United States to combat Soviet troops. The MILAN had a devastating effect on Soviet armor, having a similar effect on tanks and armored personnel carriers as Stinger missiles had had on Soviet helicopters. In 2010, French troops accidentally killed four Afghan civilians in Kapisa Province using a MILAN system during a firefight.
MILAN missiles provided by the French government saw common usage during the war between Chad and Libya where they were used by Chadian forces. Often mounted on Toyota pickup trucks, the missiles successfully engaged Libyan armor in the Aouzou Strip including T-55 tanks on many occasions.
In 1977, Syria ordered about 200 launchers and 4,000 missiles, which were delivered in 1978-1979. They were used by the Syrians during the Lebanese Civil War. The missiles were in service during the Syrian Civil War, being for instance fielded by the Republican Guard. The Syrian rebels captured some in depots, as did ISIL. The Kurdish YPG also fired Milans supplied by the international coalition.
Iraq operated MILAN missiles supplied by the French government during the 1980s. Those missiles were used by Iraqi forces during both Gulf Wars.
In 2015, Germany supplied the Peshmerga with 30 MILAN launchers and over 500 missiles. Those missiles were mostly used against ISIS forces, but on 20 October during the 2017 Iraqi–Kurdish conflict, Kurdish forces destroyed an Iraqi M1 Abrams tank and several Humvees using the MILANs.
- Afghanistan – Afghan National Army and Talibans
- Armenia – Armed Forces of Armenia
- Belgium – Belgian Army: Infantry weapon; replaced by Spike-LR in 2014
- Botswana - Botswana Defence Force
- Brazil – Brazilian Army
- Burundi (reported)
- Cambodia - 25 systems
- Chad – Chadian Ground Forces: used on light vehicles
- Croatia (reported)
- Cyprus – Cypriot National Guard 45 launchers
- Estonia – Estonian Defence Forces
- Egypt – Egyptian Army: Mounted on light vehicles. 220 units are used.
- France – French Army: Infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon. Will be replaced by Missile Moyenne Portée (MMP) from 2017.
- Gabon - 4 systems
- Germany – Bundeswehr: Mounted primarily on Marder and TPz Fuchs fighting vehicles; to be replaced by EUROSPIKE.
- Greece – Hellenic Army 400 Launchers
- India – Indian Army: Infantry and vehicle-mounted weapon. Around 30,000 built under license by Bharat Dynamics. The Indian Army has also spent close to US$120 million on 4,100 new MILAN-2T ATGMs.
- Iraq – Iraqi Army: One reportedly hit a British Challenger 2 MBT during the early stages of Operation Telic along with multiple rocket-propelled grenades. The tank survived the attack.
- Kurdistan – Peshmerga: 30 launchers and 500 missiles, delivery in two portions was announced on August 31, 2014 by German Bundeswehr. These are 1980s Milan 2 replaced by later models but still in storage. Used by the Kurds to stop ISIL vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs).
- Italy – Italian Army: Infantry weapon. Built under license by Oto Melara; Total of 714 launchers with 17,163 missile delivered in 1990. 807 MILAN 2T ordered in 2004 and delivered in 2005 (SIPRI).
- Jordan - used on YPR 765 vehicles
- Kenya – Kenyan Army: Infantry weapon.
- Lebanon – Lebanese Army
- Libya – Libyan National Army : 3,000 MILAN-3 exported between 2008 and 2011
- North Macedonia – Army of the Republic of Macedonia
- Mauritania – Mauritanian Army
- Mexico – Mexican Army (Ejército Mexicano): Mounted primarily on Panhard VBL scout cars; at least 16 launchers and several hundred missiles are available.
- Morocco – Royal Moroccan Army
- Portugal – Portuguese Army; Portuguese Marines
- PKK : As per the Der Spiegel, PKK acquired the MILAN anti tank missiles 
- South Africa – South African Army: 375 missiles.
- Senegal - 4 systems
- Spain – Spanish Army: Upgraded to MILAN 2/2T.
- Singapore: 30 systems
- Syria – Syrian Army
- Tunisia – Tunisian Armed Forces: 120 missiles.
- Turkey – Turkish Army
- United Arab Emirates
- Uruguay – Uruguayan Army
- Yemen – Yemeni security forces
- Australia – Australian Army: Was used by infantry and mounted on vehicles. The Australian Army withdrew the MILAN from service in the early 1990s. The ADF now fields the FGM-148 Javelin system.
- Ireland – Irish Army: Infantry weapon; replaced by the FGM-148 Javelin.
- Singapore – Singapore Army: Replaced by the Israeli Spike.
- Somalia - imported in 1978-1979
- UNITA: 150 missiles.
- United Kingdom – British Army; Royal Marines – While primarily an infantry weapon, it was also used in the FV120 Spartan MCT turret. Over 50,000 missiles were purchased for use in the British Armed Forces. The MILAN was deployed against Argentine bunkers in the Falklands conflict and later against T-55s during the Persian Gulf War. It was replaced by the FGM-148 Javelin in mid-2005. Previously made under license by British Aerospace Dynamics.
German Army MILAN equipped with an AGDUS combat simulator
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75 MILAN launchers ordered in 1973 and delivered in 1974
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The launchers were received in 1974, but were placed in storage in 1996. SA employed the MILAN in combat in southern Angola in the 1980s. Under Project Kingfisher, 30 launchers were upgraded to Milan ADT-ER status and 300 missiles were acquired for R167.4 million.
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The SANDF has ordered an undisclosed further number of Milan missiles..The R57 990 630.80 purchase order was awarded to Euromissile [sic] last week. It takes the known value of Project Kingfisher – according to the Armscor Bulletin System (ABS) – to R271 076 483.37...The Kingfisher contract was placed on December 20, 2006, and initially escaped media notice. In March 2009 the military ordered a further 13 Milan ADT firing posts and four simulators under a contract worth €10.7 million (about R129.3 million at then exchange rates, but R81.5 million on the ABS.
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