The U.S Army’s New Launcher is a Tank Killer

While researching the last article on the Infantry Fire Protection Capability I came across an interesting load out option for the Multi Mission Launcher module that houses it’s missiles. While the system has been tested with the AIM-9X ,Stinger MHTK , and even with the Tamir. It is also capable of firing the AGM-114 Longbow Hellfire.

Now, if you know anything about missiles, you know the last one isn’t like the others. The AGM-114L is a radar guided, fire-and-forget version of the Hellfire missile. The munition carries 9 kg of explosives in a shaped-charge tandem warhead and has a range of up to 8 km. The missile is designed to penetrate explosive reactive armor using a smaller charge to detonate the ERA and a larger one in back to blast through the tanks main armor.

The IFPC based Hellfire was first tested in the MML a few weeks ago on March 25, 2016 at White Sands Missile Range.

 Usefulness 

Usually anti-tank missiles are fired from single tube launchers mounted on tripods or light vehicles like the Humvee. Multiple tube variants are available but they are rare and always mounted on heavy vehicles. The Bradley IFV for example, mounts two TOW missile tubes in a turret mounted launcher.

In the air the number increases. The AH-64 Apache can mount 16 Hellfires but is usually loaded with eight to increase flexibility in combat. A Reaper drone can carry up to eight missiles, but usually carries four for the same reason. The problem with these systems is that they have limited capacity. Each system must be manually reloaded after only a few shots. The Helicopters and drones also need a base to replenish their missile supply and require time to get to and from the battlefield.

The IFPC on the other hand, can carry up to 15 missiles and stay in the same position indefinitely. While the AGM-114L usually guided by a Longbow radar mounted to Apache attack helicopters, (hence the name) the IFPC’s sentinel radar can track vehicles as well. With a range of several miles the Hellfire would be devastating against VBIED threats to American troops overseas. As a weapon meant to blow through over a foot of tank armor, it should have no problem destroying a bomb-laden armored truck.

Against conventional opponents the anti-tank capabilities are obvious. The millimeter wave radar would be unaffected by the IR scramblers mounted on the newer T-90 tanks. The missiles have a range of 8 km while the T-90’s 2A46M is only effective out to 3 to 5 km with sabot or HEAT ammunition. With the system’s mobility, fire-and-forget capability and facility to target multiple vehicles at once, it has potential as a tank destroyer in regions in the where the United States needs to offset superior enemy numbers. Regions like the Baltics.

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