Indian Arjun Tank Tests Fires New Laser Guided Anti-Tank Missile

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released footage of a what it says was a successful test of an indigenously produced laser-guided gun-fired anti-tank guided missile (ATGM). The test took place at the KK Ranges of the Armoured Corps Centre and School (ACC&S) in Ahmednagar on 22 September 2020.

According to the official release, the new ATGM was fired from the 120mm cannon of an Arjun main battle tank (MBT) and successfully hit a target located at a range of 3 km. Employing a tandem HEAT warhead, the missile is designed to defeat Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) protected armoured vehicles, such as those in use with the Chinese and Pakistani armies that present the most likely opponents. Indeed, news of the test comes a few days after Pakistan gave a demonstration of its latest MBT, the Chinese-built VT-4.

The new weapon was developed after the Indian’s decided against adopting the Israeli-made LAHAT gun-fired missile for the Arjun in 2014, necessitating the creation of an indigenous system. Development work was undertaken by the Armament Research & Development Establishment (ARDE) in association with High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) and Instruments Research & Development Establishment (IRDE).

The Indians already have experience in using gun-launched guided missiles in that the T-90S tanks that form the majority of the Indian tank fleet operate the Russian 9M119M Refleks. Common in tanks with Soviet origins, gun fired guided missiles were initially fielded in the 1960s by the U.S. Army, but were never particularly popular with western militaries.

US MGM-51 guided missile

The development of a dedicated missile system for the home-grown Arjun MBT would present something of an oddity, as currently it is only fielded in very modest numbers. Subject to speculation on its actual effectiveness due to a rather prolonged development and fielding cycle, only 240 Arjuns are believed to be in service in the Indian Army, out of an estimated tank fleet of 4,300 MBTs. 

However, the Indian MoD states that the new weapon is being developed with a multi-platform launch capability and not just for Arjun. Additionally, with India looking to produce more of its weapons and platforms at home, as well as an increased push to upgrade weapons with high tech components built locally, the decision to develop the new system is more logical.