Anti Tank Missiles [UPSC Science & Tech]

Indian Army has successfully conducted summer user trials of NAG, 3rd Generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM). This topic is related to the Defence and Security topics of General Studies paper 3. 

Defence is an important and dynamic segment in the UPSC Syllabus. Since DRDO plays a major part in the country’s defence mechanism, it is a very significant topic for IAS aspirants. The Commission has asked several questions related to missile launches, its types, etc. To tackle such factual questions in the UPSC Prelims, it is essential to know several facts and figures related to the topic. 

Latest Context related to Anti-Tank Guided Missiles

India has successfully test-fired the indigenously-developed the Army and Air Force versions of anti-tank guided missile systems ‘Helina’ and ‘Dhruvastra’, in the Pokhran range Thar Desert Rajasthan.

Important Points –

  1. The Helina (the Army version) and Dhruvastra (Indian Airforce version) are helicopter-launched versions of third-generation anti-tank guided missiles (the Nag missile system).
  2. The missile systems have been designed and developed indigenously by the DRDO. Know in detail about Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on the given link.
  3. The missile system has all-weather day-and-night capability and can defeat battle tanks with a conventional armour and explosive reactive armour.
  4. The ‘Helina’ and ‘Dhruvastra’ can engage targets both in the direct hit mode as well as top attack mode.
    • Direct Hit Mode – The missile travels at a lower altitude, directly striking the target
    • Top attack mode – The missile is required to climb sharply after launch and travel at a certain altitude, then plunge on top of the target.
  5. While the Nag missile has a maximum range of 4 km, the Helina has an extended strike range of about 8 km.
Stay updated about the latest current affairs topics by checking the  PIB Summary and Analysis page now!

Check the following links to strengthen your UPSC exam preparation

What are Anti Tank Missiles?

Anti-Tank missiles (ATMs) are guided missiles designed primarily to destroy or damage heavily armoured vehicles and tanks. They’re guided missiles that use various guiding algorithms like wire-guided missiles, laser guide guided missiles, etc. and having various parameters which are discussed in the table below:

Parameters of Anti-Tank Missiles
Size ATMs come in various sizes:

  • Small ATMs that can be carried by a single person and shoulder-launched.
  • Medium-sized ones which need a team of soldiers to carry and launch.
  • Large ATMs can be mounted on Aircraft or Main Battle Tanks and can be launched from large distances.
Technology Initially, ATMs would need to be launched close to the targeted armoured vehicle due to their lack of penetration firepower.

With the latest technology, they can be fired from a significant distance and still do damage to light and medium armoured vehicles. 

Warhead Different ATMs use different warheads depending upon the size and armour of the target. One of those warheads is known as the High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) Warhead. HEAT warhead has a metal spike that goes through the metal armour. 
Guidance System 1st Generation: Guided by manual commands and the missile is steered to the target.
2nd Generation: Semi-automatic commanded missiles. The operator would need to keep the sight fixed on the target until impact.
3rd Generation: This type of guided missile relies on an electro-optical imager (IIR) seeker, a laser or a W-band radar seeker in the nose of the missile. These are ‘fire-and-forget’ missiles where the operator can retreat right after firing as there is no more guidance required.

Anti-Tank Missiles in India

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed the DRDO Anti-Tank Missile (DRDO ATM) which was a 1st Generation missile using Wire Guided guidance technology. Anti-tank missiles in India are discussed in the table below:




DRDO ATM Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)  1st Gen

Speed: 300 ft/s (91 m/s)

Range: up to 1.6 km

Warhead: 106mm HEAT Warhead

AMOGHA Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL) 2nd Gen

Range: up to 2.8 km

Various versions of AMOGHA are developed by BDL:

  1. AMOGHA 2- Land Version
  2. AMOGHA 3- Improved version; 3rd Gen
NAG Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL); Uses the IGMDP developed by DRDO. 3rd Gen

Fire & Forget Tech

Range: 500m – 20km

Various versions of NAG: 

Land version

Air Version

HeLiNa- Helicopter Launched NAG

NAMICA – NAG missile Carrier


JASMINE VEM Technologies Pvt Ltd Still in development

3rd Gen 

Spike ATGMs Rafael Advanced Defence Systems of Israel

Aspirants can go through the following links for preparation of the upcoming examination even better –

Missiles Of India Surface to Air Missile (SAM) Prithvi II – Single-Stage Liquid-Fueled Missile
Surface to Surface Missile – Agni, Brahmos, Prithvi Air to Air Missile (AAM) BrahMos – India’s Fastest Missile
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) India’s Nuclear Doctrine Anti-Radiation Missile (ARM)
Akash Missile System Successfully Test Fired Pinaka Multi-barrel Rocket launcher (MBRL) System Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV)

What were the previously tested ATGMs?

  • In 2018, ATGM Nag was successfully tested in desert conditions.
  • In 2019, the indigenously developed low weight, fire and forget Man-Portable ATGM (MPATGM) were successfully tested.
  • All these systems are in their various stages of development and are mainly used by infantry units of the Army.
  • In 2019, the government said that it has procured Anti-Tank Spike Missiles from Israel to meet the requirements of the Indian Army.

What is Man-Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile?

Man-Portable Anti Tank Guided Missile is for infantry and Parachute (Special Forces) of the Indian Army. By using an Ejection Motor, it is ‘Soft’ launched from a canister and uses a state-of-the-art IIR seeker for homing onto the target. The man-portable missile, and launched using a tripod is designed with a launch weight less than 15 Kg.

What are Laser-Guided ATGMs?

  • The laser-guided Anti-Tank Guided Missiles were successfully tested twice for a target placed at different ranges.
  • The laser-guided ATGM is designed to be fired from tanks. They are yet to receive an operational name. Its range is limited to 1.5 to 5 km, it locks and tracks the targets with the help of laser designation to precisely strike the target.
  • This missile has the capacity of piercing armoured vehicles that use specially designed armour plates to counter the impact of projectiles.
  • The missile uses a ‘tandem’ High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) warhead. ‘Tandem’ refers to the missiles using more than one detonation in order to effectively penetrate the protective armours.
  • This Laser-Guided ATGM has been developed by two facilities of the DRDO’s Armament and Combat Engineering Cluster i.e. Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE) and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory (HEMRL) in association with Instruments Research & Development Establishment.
  • The laser-guided missile is currently undergoing tests to be integrated with India’s Main Battle Tank (MBT), Arjun. After the series of validation tests, the system will be ready for the user trial by the Army.

Anti-tank Missiles UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

Candidates can refer to the Previous Years’ Science and Technology Questions in UPSC Mains GS-3 for practice, from the linked article.

For similar articles, visit the links given in the table below:

Related Links
UPSC Science and Technology Tissue Culture
NCERT Notes for UPSC Various Internal Security Forces In India and their Mandate.
Indian Intelligence Architecture: An Overview Central Intelligence And Investigative Agencies of India



Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.