India's anti-tank guided missile Helina was test-fired yesterday at a firing range in Rajasthan

An anti-tank missile, anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), anti-armour guided missile or anti-tank guided weapon (ATGW) is a missile that is created to destroy vehicles that are heavily armoured.

Facts About Anti-Tank Missiles

1. Anti-tank missiles can be of different sizes - from smaller missiles that can be carried by just one person and shoulder-launched, to bigger ones that need a team to transport or launch, to even bigger missiles that are mounted on aircraft and other vehicles.

2. Earlier, anti-tank weapons provided to the infantry -- such as anti-tank rockets, anti-tank mines and anti-tank rifles -- did not have a high armour-penetration capacity and so, soldiers had to approach close to the target for them to work.

3. The rise of anti-tank guided missiles now has given infantry soldiers the ability to defeat tanks with light and medium armours from a large range, even though main battle tanks (MBTs) are still quite resistant to ATGMs.

4. Most ATGMs now have a HEAT warhead - this is a spike of metal which goes through the target.

5. Some top anti-tank missiles are designed to launch the attack from above as the armour is usually weaker.

6. ATGMs were used by more than 130 countries as of 2016.

Three Types of Guidance Systems in ATGMs

First Generation: These missiles are guided by manual commands and the missile is steered to the target. The operator is exposed and vulnerable while using first generation anti-tank missiles as they have to remain still and in view of the target while the missile is flying to the target.

Second Generation: Semi-automatically commanded missiles need to operate to keep the sight fixed on the target till impact. Apart from the use of laser marking or TV camera view from the nose of the missile, guidance commands are sent to the missile using wires or radio.

Third Generation: This type of guided missiles relies on electro-optical imager (IIR) seeker, a laser or a W band radar seeker in the nose of the missile. There are fire-and-forget missiles where the operator can retreat right after firing as there is no more guidance required.

Anti-Tank Guided Missile And Guided Bombs Tested

On August 19, indigenously-developed guided bombs -- Smart Anti-Airfield Weapons -- and anti-tank guided missile Helina were successfully flight tested at separate firing ranges in Rajasthan, informed the defence ministry.

It said the Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon (SAAW) was successfully flight tested from an Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft at Chandan range, while the Helina was test fired at Pokhran.

The SAAW and Helina are being developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman congratulated the DRDO for successful flight tests of both the weapons, saying they will further boost the defence capabilities of the country.

While SAAW is being developed for the IAF, the Helina missile will be a part of the Army's weaponry.