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Tag der Bundeswehr Jagel 2019 HJL 13 noBG.png
MILAN missile launcher with tripod.
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of originFrance / West Germany
Service history
In service1972–present
Used bySee operators
WarsSouth African Border War
Chadian-Libyan conflict
Toyota War
Western Sahara War[1]
Lebanese Civil War
Iran–Iraq War
Falklands War
Gulf War
2003 invasion of Iraq
Iraq War
Opération Licorne[2]
Libyan Civil War
Northern Mali Conflict[3]
Operation Sangaris[4]
Syrian Civil War
Iraqi Civil War
2017 Iraqi–Kurdish conflict
2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Production history
Also produced under license by:
Bharat Dynamics (India)
BAe Dynamics (United Kingdom)
Unit cost£7,500 (1984)[5]
No. built350,000 missiles, 10,000 launchers
VariantsSee variants
Mass16.4 kg[6]
Length1.2 m (3 ft 11 in)
Diameter0.115 m (4.5 in)
WarheadSingle or tandem HEAT

Enginesolid-fuel rocket
Wingspan0.26 m (10 in)
200–2,000 m (660–6,560 ft);
3,000 m (MILAN ER)
Maximum speed 200 m/s (660 ft/s)
Jet deflector
Individual, vehicle

MILAN (French: Missile d'infanterie léger antichar; "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.


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.[7]

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.[citation needed]

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.[8]


MILAN 1 missile.
MILAN II with stand-off probe which almost doubled penetration
View through MILAN optical sight
  • 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.

Combat use[edit]


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.[9] 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.[10] In 2010, French troops killed four Afghan civilians in Kapisa Province using a MILAN system during a firefight.[11]

Chadian–Libyan conflict[edit]

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 armour in the Aouzou Strip including T-55 tanks.[12]

Falklands War[edit]

In 1982, the ruling military junta in Argentina invaded the UK overseas territory of the Falkland Islands, leading to the Falklands War. British forces used MILAN, along with the M72 LAW and Carl Gustaf, in a 'bunker buster' role. The MILAN saw use in the battles for Goose Green, Mount Longdon, Two Sisters and Wireless Ridge.[13]

Gulf War[edit]

MILAN was used by both coalition and Iraqi forces during the Persian Gulf War, with a MILAN launcher operated by French forces claiming to have destroyed seven T-55 tanks.[14] Iraqi operated MILAN missiles were supplied by the French government during the 1980s and were used by Iraqi forces during both Gulf Wars.


Syria ordered about 200 launchers and 4,000 missiles in 1977 which were delivered in 1978-1979 and used by the Syrians during the Lebanese Civil War. The Syrian army used Milan missiles against Israeli tanks in Lebanon in 1982.[15] The missiles were in service during the Syrian Civil War, fielded by the Republican Guard.[16] Syrian rebels captured some in depots, as did ISIL. The Kurdish YPG also used Milans supplied by the international coalition.[15]

Syrian Milan team in Lebanon, 1982.

In 2015, Germany supplied the Peshmerga with 30 MILAN launchers and over 500 missiles.[17][18] 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.[19]

South Africa[edit]

The first Milan version was delivered to the Special Forces and the antitank platoons in the late 1970s and 1980s at a scale of six launchers per platoon. Each platoon was organised into three antitank sections, with two ATGM launchers and two M40A1 106mm recoilless guns or two rocket launchers.

Six SADF Milan teams were deployed by the Special Forces in support of the Angolan UNITA guerrillas, in the Cazombo Salient in 1985 during Operation Wallpaper.


Map with MILAN operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former operators[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Delcour, Roland (19 January 1982). "À Ras-el-Khanfra, les efforts du Polisario pour rompre le mur de sécurité entourant le " Sahara utile " ont échoué". Le Monde (in French).
  2. ^ Hofnung, Thomas (3 July 2006). "Soldats tués à Bouaké : la France a laissé faire". Libération (in French). Archived from the original on 5 September 2018. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  3. ^ Capdeville, Thibault (Spring 2014). "Infantry units fires during OP Serval" (PDF). Fantassins. No. 32. pp. 55–58. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-12-15. Retrieved 2018-12-12.
  4. ^ "RCA: violent accrochage entre Sangaris et des rebelles à Boguila". Radio France Internationale (in French). Archived from the original on 2018-09-04. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  5. ^ "Written Answers Defence: Weapons and Equipment (Costs)", House of Commons Debates, UK Parliament, vol 63, column 453W, 10 July 1984, archived from the original on 17 June 2016, retrieved 21 May 2016 |volume= has extra text (help)
  6. ^ "Milan". Federation of American Scientists. Archived from the original on 2019-01-01. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
  7. ^ ARG. "MILAN Anti-Tank Guided Missile". Archived from the original on 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  8. ^ Pike, John (2018-03-09). "Milan". Archived from the original on 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  9. ^ Bobi Pirseyedi (2000). The Small Arms Problem in Central Asia: Features and Implications. United Nations Publications UNIDIR. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-92-9045-134-1.
  10. ^ Jack Devine; Vernon Loeb (3 June 2014). Good Hunting: An American Spymaster's Story. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-0-374-13032-9.
  11. ^ "French army claims responsibility for four civilian deaths in Afghanistan". France 24. 2010-04-29. Archived from the original on 2018-03-10. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  12. ^ "TOPICS OF THE TIMES; Toyotas and Tanks". The New York Times. 1987-08-16. Archived from the original on 2018-01-13. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  13. ^ Falklands War Operations Manual. Haynes, Chris McNab, 2018, ISBN 978 1 78521 185 0
  14. ^ Jayhawk! the VII Corps in the Persian Gulf War. Stephen Alan Bourque, United States. Dept. of the Army.
  15. ^ a b c d "Comment l'Etat islamique a récupéré des lance-missiles Milan français" [How ISIS got French Milan missiles]. France Soir (in French). 7 December 2018. Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  16. ^ "La 104ème brigade de la Garde républicaine syrienne, troupe d'élite et étendard du régime de Damas". France-Soir (in French). 20 March 2017. Archived from the original on 19 October 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Germany sends more MILAN rockets to thwart ISIS suicide bombers". Archived from the original on 2017-08-09. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  18. ^ "Kampf gegen IS: Mehr deutsche Waffen für Kurden". Archived from the original on 2018-01-13. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  19. ^ "Lostarmour ID - 16603, M1A1M Abrams, Erbil". Archived from the original on 2018-01-13. Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag International Institute for Strategic Studies (2020). The Military Balance. 120. Routledge. pp. 257–504. ISBN 978-0-367-46639-8.
  21. ^ Martin, Guy. "Botswana - defenceWeb". Archived from the original on 2018-07-21. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  22. ^ "Libye: le retour de la "cavalerie Toyota"". 30 March 2011. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  23. ^ (30 January 2012). "Au Tchad, l'argent du pétrole finance surtout les armes". La Croix. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
  24. ^ France Orders Anti-Tank Missile from MBDA –, 5 December 2013
  25. ^ "Indian Army to Purchase 4100 Milan 2T Anti Tank Guided Missiles in USD 120 million Deal". Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
  26. ^ "Unterstützung der Regierung der Autonomen Region Irakisch-Kurdistan bei der Versorgung der Flüchtlinge und beim Kampf gegen den Islamischen Staat im Nordirak (PDF)" (PDF). German Bundeswehr (in German). 31 August 2014. Archived (PDF) from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  27. ^ "Irak: Deutschland schickt Kurden Panzerabwehrraketen". Spiegel Online (in German). 31 August 2014. Archived from the original on 2 September 2014. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
  28. ^ French, American Weapons Take Toll on ISIS in Ground Combat Archived 2017-07-12 at the Wayback Machine -, 16 November 2015
  29. ^ "Nasce " Revestito " a Messina. Una Rivista on line per tutti. Per tutti coloro che non tollerano più demagogia, privilegio, mistificazioni di poteri grossi o piccoli, che hanno messo alle strette l´umanità, la libertà, e soprattutto la dignità. Revestito ha significato ambivalente: non occorre che sia messo a nudo il re ,per evento eccezionale, affinchè la natura delle cose in qualche misura si disveli. La trasparenza dovrebbe essere alla base di ogni consorzio civile e di ogni Stato di diritto che tale pretenda definirsi". 23 April 2014. Archived from the original on 23 April 2014.
  30. ^ Small Arms Survey (2015). "Trade Update: After the 'Arab Spring'" (PDF). Small Arms Survey 2015: weapons and the world (PDF). Cambridge University Press. p. 102. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  31. ^ "Kampf gegen IS-Miliz: Ausrüstung der Bundeswehr möglicherweise in die Hände der PKK gelangt". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 2015-02-15. Retrieved 2015-02-14.
  32. ^ a b c "Trade Registers". Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. Retrieved 2013-06-20.
  33. ^ B A Lowe (4 January 2009). "SADF Arms Purchases". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 75 MILAN launchers ordered in 1973 and delivered in 1974
  34. ^ Moukambi, Victor (December 2008). RELATIONS BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA AND FRANCE WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO MILITARY MATTERS, 1960-1990 (PDF) (Doctoral dissertation thesis). Stellenbosch: Military Science, Stellenbosch University. p. 116. Archived (PDF) from the original on 28 April 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2017. In December 1973, it was reported that [Pretoria] signed a contract.. for the supply of 50 Matra 550 air-to-air missiles ..[and] a contract over the supply of 1500 Milan missiles. Source: French Defence Ministry; Historical Archives, Paris, Box No. 14 S 295, Monthly report of the French Military Attaché in South Africa, Imports from France, November 1973. Report of the French Military Attaché in South Africa, November 1973.
  35. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (8 October 2008). "SANDF Army, SOF "operationalising" MILAN". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 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.
  36. ^ Leon Engelbrecht (24 May 2011). "SA Army stocks up on Milan 3". Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 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.
  37. ^ "Syrian rebels captured ammunition depot with Milan / Konkurs anti-tank missiles and rockets". 5 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-08-10.
  38. ^ Belgium selects Spike missile to replace Milan Archived 2017-06-29 at the Wayback Machine –, January 3, 2013
  39. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (2019). "Chapter Seven: Middle East and North Africa". The Military Balance. 119 (1): 364. doi:10.1080/04597222.2018.1561033.
  40. ^ Small Arms Survey (2012). "Surveying the Battlefield: Illicit Arms In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia". Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets. Cambridge University Press. pp. 339–340. ISBN 978-0-521-19714-4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-08-31. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  41. ^ International Institute for Strategic Studies (2015). "Chapter Seven: Middle East and North Africa". The Military Balance. 115 (1): 136. doi:10.1080/04597222.2015.996348.
  42. ^ "British Land Weapons and Vehicles". Archived from the original on 2005-12-02.
  43. ^ Zaloga (2004), p. 36.
  44. ^ "British Army - The Infantry - Milan 2 - Armed Forces - a5a14". Archived from the original on 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-04-01.

External links[edit]

Video link