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Swingfire launch from Striker.jpg
Swingfire launching from a Striker
TypeAnti-tank missile
Place of originUnited Kingdom
Service history
Used bySee text
Production history
Unit cost£7,600 (1984)[1]
No. built46,650 [2]
Mass27 kg
Length1.07 m
Diameter0.17 m
Warhead7 kg HEAT

EngineSolid rocket motor
Wingspan0.39 m
150 - 4,000 m
Flight ceilingn/a
Maximum speed 185 m/s
Thrust Vector Control

Swingfire was a British wire-guided anti-tank missile developed in the 1960s and produced from 1966 until 1993.[2] The name refers to its ability to make a rapid turn of up to ninety degrees after firing to bring it onto the line of the sighting mechanism. This means that the launcher vehicle could be concealed and the operator, using a portable sight, placed at a distance in a more advantageous firing position.


Swingfire was developed by Fairey Engineering Ltd and the British Aircraft Corporation, together with Wallop Industries Ltd[3] and minor subcontractors. It replaced the Vickers Vigilant missile in British service. Its design incorporated elements from its predecessor the Vigilant and the experimental Orange William missile.

Besides its use on the FV438 Swingfire and the Striker armoured vehicles, Swingfire was developed to be launched from other platforms:

  • FV712, Mk 5 Ferret with 4 missiles in use with the British Army
  • Beeswing - on a Land Rover
  • Hawkswing - on a Lynx helicopter [2]
  • Golfswing - on a small trolley or Argocat vehicle.

Combat history[edit]

Swingfire has seen combat use in the Gulf War [4] and the Iraq War.

Replacement in British Army[edit]

After a lengthy debate, the Swingfire was replaced with the Javelin in mid-2005 to meet new and changing situational requirements. The British Army invested heavily in the Javelin, and it is now the main heavy anti-tank missile system in use by the British Army.[5][6][needs update]


  • Diameter: 170 mm
  • Wingspan: 0.39 m
  • Length: 1.07 m
  • Weight: 27 kg
  • Warhead: 7 kg HEAT
  • Range: 150 m to 4000 m
  • Velocity: 185 m/s [2]
  • Guidance: Wire-guided, originally MCLOS, later upgraded to SACLOS, in which form the system is known as SWIG (Swingfire With Improved Guidance).[2]
  • Steering: Thrust Vectored Control (TVC)
  • Penetration: 800 mm RHA[7]
  • Unit cost: £7,500 [8]


Map with Swingfire operators in blue and former operators in red
External images
STRIKER firing Swingfire
BEESWING firing Swingfire - missile making turn that gave it its name
GOLFSWING dismounted firing Swingfire
STRIKER crew with dismounted firing post in hiding
Swingfire cut-away illustration

Current operators[edit]

Egyptian Army [9]
  • Swingfire missiles were also produced in Egypt under license by Arab-British Dynamics.[10]
Kenyan Army[2]
Nigerian Army[12]
 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian Army[2]
Ferret Mk 5 at The Tank Museum, Bovington
SPAF [11][13]

Former operators[edit]

Belgian Army [2]
Iranian Army[14]
Portuguese Army
  • Used on the Chaimite armoured fighting vehicle, now retired.
 United Kingdom
British Army

Decommissioning problems[edit]

Swingfire inadvertently became the subject of questions in the Houses of Parliament in March 2002 when 20 warheads, removed for decommissioning, were washed into the Bristol Channel along with 8 anti-tank mines.[15] The warheads, with a total explosive weight equivalent to 64.2 kg of TNT,[16] were never located.[17]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Pattie, Geoffrey. "Weapons and Equipment (Costs)". millbanksystems. millbanksystems. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Swingfire". www.forecastinternational.com. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008.
  3. ^ Wallop Pyrotechnics Archived 28 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Flight International, 18/25 June 1977, p. 1854
  4. ^ "Britain's Small Wars". Facebook. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  5. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20080303111944/http://www.gnn.gov.uk/content/detail.asp?NewsAreaID=2&ReleaseID=165224. Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Javelin Portable Anti-Tank Missile - Army Technology". Army-technology.com. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.[unreliable source?]
  7. ^ Stephen Bull, Encyclopedia of military technology and innovation, 2004, Westport: Greenwood Press, p. 257. Other sources have noted the penetration as "up to 2ft thick" (~610-mm).
  8. ^ "Swingfire". Everything2.com. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. ^ John Pike. "Army". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  10. ^ John Pike. "Arab British Dynamics Co. ABD (AOI)". Globalsecurity.org. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  11. ^ a b [1] Archived 25 January 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Nigeria Armee nigeriane forces terrestres equipements vehicules blindes militaires information descr - Nigeria - Africa - world army military military land forces". Armyrecognition.com. Archived from the original on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Sudan, Civil War since 1955". Acig.org. Archived from the original on 14 March 2009. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  14. ^ Zarzecki, Thomas W. (2002). Arms Diffusion: The Spread of Military Innovations in the International System. ISBN 9780415935142.
  15. ^ "Hansard". Publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Hansard". =Publications.parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 9 January 2016. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  17. ^ David Hencke. "MoD gives up on lost warheads". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2015.

External links[edit]