At baffo's request...

The MILAN is a man-portable anti-tank missile. It is manufactured jointly by Germany’s DASA (Daimler-Benz Aerospace) and France’s Aerospatiale SA for use by NATO armed forces, and is sold around the world in an effort to lower the acquisition cost of the system. There are three versions of the Milan; the first was introduced in 1972. Since then, the weapon has gone through two revisions; the MILAN-2 and MILAN-3 are in use with various armed forces. In addition to the original manufacturers, licensed versions have been built in Britain for use by that nation’s military as well.

The MILAN’s closest competitor/predecessor is the U.S. DRAGON antitank missile system. The DRAGON is larger, requiring a two-man team to fire and displace; however, both are man-portable and both are wire-guided. The MILAN uses a SACLOS guidance system (Semi-Automatic Command to Line Of Sight) which is quite similar to the system used on the U.S. TOW missile – the operator must keep the aimpoint centered on the target after launching the missile. Electronics in the launcher module track both the aimpoint and the missile in flight, and attempt to keep the aimpoint occluded by the missile, eventually resulting in a hit.

Originally, the MILAN used the infrared radiation of the missile’s rocket exhaust to locate it in the sighting ring. The MILAN-2 had an electronic infrared flashlamp mounted on the rear of the missile in order to present a higher contrast tracking target and defeat spoofing or interference by multiple IR sources downrange. I’m not sure whether the MILAN-3 uses the same system.

In order to carry the missile, the launcher and missile round come in two separate modules. To fire, the crew snaps the modules together and fires, discarding the missile module when done. This is similar to the U.S. Stinger MANPADS, although it is physically larger, and the STINGER is fire-and-forget.

Some stats on the MILAN system taken from FAS:

  • Max range: 2,000m
  • Min range: 400m (the missile needs to arm itself and the launcher to acquire the missile, thus the minimum)
  • Length: 918mm
  • Weight (Missile): 6.73kg
  • Diameter (Missile): 125mm
  • Wingspan: 267mm
  • Rate of Fire (Trained crew): 3-4 rounds per minute
  • Warhead: 2.70kg, explosive content 1.79kg, shaped charge side-attack
  • Armor Penetration: 352mm RHA-equivalent
  • Time of Flight to Max Range: 12.5 sec
  • Missile Speed: 720kph (max)

The U.S. Army is currently replacing its infantry AT weapons with the Javelin, a fire-and-forget missile system using a packaged all-up round like the MILAN. The Javelin, rather than requiring operator guidance all the way to target, is supposed to lock onto its target and then track it autonomously using millimeter-wave radar.

Info taken from the FAS, Jane's Infantry Weapons 1990, and DASA.