India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) conducted the third successful test firing of a new indigenously designed and developed man portable anti-tank guided missile (MPATGM) on September 11, the Indian Ministry of Defense (MOD) said in a statement.
The test firing took place at a firing range in Kurnool located in the state of Andhra Pradesh in southeastern India.
“The missile was launched from a man portable Tripod launcher and the target was mimicking a functional tank,” the statement notes. “The missile hit the target in top attack mode and destroyed it with precision.” According to DRDO, all the mission objectives were met.
Previous test launches took place in September 2018 at the Ahmednagar test range in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.
The MPATGM, a third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), has been under development by DRDO in partnership with Indian defense contractor VEM Technologies Ltd. for the past four years.
Armed with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead, the MPATGM reportedly boasts a top attack capability and has a maximum engagement range of about 2.5 kilometers.
DRDO initially had promised to deliver the first MPATGM prototype to the Indian Army for user trials by the end of 2018. However, the program suffered from a number of delays due to technical issues with the new weapon system.
The Indian Army has also repeatedly expressed concerns that the MPATGM will not meet its operational requirements. Nonetheless, mass production of the MPATGM is still expected to kick off in 2021. “The missile is incorporated with state-of-the-art infrared imaging seeker along with advanced avionics,” DRDO notes.
MPATGM is the man-portable variant of the Nag third-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM), which was last test fired in July 2019. The Indian Army has expressed concerns over the capability of the missile system’s imagining infrared (IIR) seeker as it did not meet the service’s requirement for thermal sensors.
The MPATGM would be in compliance with the MoD’s strategic partnership (SP) guidelines that aim to facilitate the manufacturing of military hardware locally as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative.
In December 2017, the Indian government also scrapped a $500 million deal with Rafael for 321 Spike ATGM launchers and 8,356 missiles only to reauthorize it in January 2018 during a state visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to India.
However, following the February 2019 military standoff between India and Pakistan, the the Indian Army approved the procurement of 240 Spike ATGMs and 12 launchers as part of an “emergency purchase” to meet immediate operational requirements in April of this year.