Milan antitank missle

Winter operational qualification firing of the 3rd Hussards regiment

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A binational origin

Born in the beginning of the 70s off De Gaulle and Adenauer's will of an antitank and antiaircraft missiles range in a joint enterprise, Euromissile.

Composed from the french Aerospatiale that included the merged Nord-aviation and Sud-aviation, and the german Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm aeronautical group, the consortium will see the birth of the Roland, HOT and Milan missiles.

paper add for Euromissile showing their commercial range, during 1982

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A technical feat

in service since 1972, the Milan is assembled in France from franco-german parts. 240 000 will be produced in the country and 360 000 all around.

After 30 years, it's still considered as the best missile in its category in the 90s, with more than 87% impact success rate.
Only the TOW, developped by Hugues Aircrafts in the United States is more commercially successful.

User countries around the world

Visual from wikipedia

Milan squad leader badge, with it's golden arrowhead at the top. A silver one would indicate a shooter badge

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A potent system

Wireguided to more than 1800 meters, the Milan can be used in daylight as well as by night, with it's optional MIRA thermal camera.

bearing at first a 103mm warhead, it's upgraded to a 115mm warhead capable of pentrating up to 920mm of homogeneous armour.
Thrown off its transport and firing tube by a 300g propulsive explosive powder charge at a speed of 75 m/s, the initial blast is quite powerful.
Originally bearing a 2kg Hexolite explosive charge, it's quickly updated to a 2kg Octolite charge, much more potent.

Training with the Milan, note the tube ejecting backward and the blue missile head indicating an inert warhead

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Milan team in the 80s, with a MIRA Thermal camera on top of the optical aiming device

Picture is hard to source because of its wide sharing across the internet

A constant evolving

Developped for combat on european soil, the Milan usage all across the globe is showing its adaptative capabilities.

however, difficulties faced during its deployments needed some issues to be adressed.
The battle of Aozou saw units of the libyan army light huge bonfires in the desert to mislead Milan guidance systems relying on light used by the tchadian army.
Modifications are made by changing the guidance system to an alternate infrared lamp, thus overriding the problem.
More wide usage of mixt and reactive armour require an upgrade of the warhead and a tandem 2 shaped charges is soon adopted.

Missile cut showing the two shaped charges

Missile course, french army

A Light Strike Vehicle of the british Airmobile Brigade with its Milan and 5 spare missiles during manoeuvers

Article from Thinkdefence

Citing Major John Crosland, B company commander, 2 para about the battle of Goose Green in the Falklands, may 1982 :

"The Milan was an unorthodox choice, but it was the only powerful weapon we had. Much to our relief, the first round fired was a perfect bull’s eye. It went straight through the bunker window and blew it out completely, and the second one did the same. Four more rounds and that was Boca House cleared out. Everyone stood on their feet and cheered!"

adopted by more than 40 countries, 360 000 assembled missiles, the Milan is combat proven as used in many wars including the Falklands.

Animation showing the concept of a shaped charge on a RPG-7 grenade

From a soft metal, the charge fold on itself pushed by the explosive forming a plasma dart that pierce the armor, projecting molten metal inside the vehicle and substensially increasing the temperature

Combat proven

The missile proved its efficience on numerous theatres of war, including Irak, Afghanistan and Northern Africa.

It's found particularly useful as a bunkerbuster during the Falklands war in which the british paratroopers and royale marines employ it to destroy many argentinian combat posts.

Private Dunn of 3 para, during the battle of Mount Longdon, note the shrapnel damage on the Milan system

Picture from the Imperial War Museum

Paper add from Aerospatiale in 1991, picturing a Milan during operation Daguet in Irak

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British team firing a Milan, seems to be during operation Iraki Freedom


More than 50 years in service

Despite its venerable age, the Milan is still a well regarded system at a low cost of production.

Used everyday in combat, it's still priving its abilities in kurdish fighters ranks in Irak and Syria as well as in Ukraine since a few monthes, for examples.

A Milan in ukrainian service, 2022

Picture from mil

A buggy mounted Milan in Ukraine, used in guerilla tactics, 2022

Picture from defence-ua

Video showing the Kastuś Kalinoŭski belarusian regiment fighting for Ukraine using some Milans

Some Milan systems were captured by the russian army in Ukraine, 2022

To go a little further, a video from the Youtube channel US military news talking about the Milan missile and showcasing some ukrainian units using it.