AT-3 Sagger

Ready to fire condition

AT-3 Sagger ( NATO reporting name ) or originally 9M14 Malyutka is a MCLOS ( Manual Command to Line Of Sight ) anti-tank guided missile or ATGM, developed in 1960s. The main idea behind the system was to be vehicle mountable or man-portable, to have a range of 3,000 meters, to weigh 10 kilograms at max, and to be able to penetrate 200mm of steel at 60° angle. The system is the most widely produced ATGM of all time with production numbering, dictated by soviet planned economy, at 25,000 pieces a year during the 1960s and 1970s era. It was so popular with the user states and operators that it has been produced in many countries outside the USSR an has been upgraded to this day.

Left and right, the system in packed, transport condition

The system is joystick operated, demanding a lot of training from the operator ( approximately 2,500 simulated firings ), at the beginning it had 60% to 90% chance of hitting the target, like in the Initial stages of Yom Kippur war, when Egyptian anti-tank teams decimated large numbers of Israeli armor. But without the proper tactics, an with less-skilled operators the efficiency of the system can degrade to 2% to 25% chance of hitting the target. As system was upgraded to address these issues, the guidance system was switched to SACLOS ( Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight ), where operator is only needed to steer the missile during flight by simply keeping the aim cursor on the target. The most modern versions added an upgraded warheads which can penetrate much more armor ( even the composite armor on modern tanks ) and even tandem warheads that can defeat ERA ( explosive reactive armor ). The operator usually used eye vision to steer the missile to the target up to 1,000m but at longer ranges there was a possibility to use 8X magnifying periscope, in the most modern versions thermal-imaging optics were added, so its possible to hit a target in day or night and in all weather conditions. Overall, despite these upgrades the Sagger is still the cheapest ATGM in the world, with even the most modern versions costing hundreds of dollars in comparison whit modern third generation ATGMs costing tens of thousands of dollars. Which is a very important factor.

Left- the SACLOS version, right- the SACLOS version with thermal-imaging sight

The system was used in many conflict, most notably the Yom Kippur war, when it destroyed 800 Israeli tanks and armored vehicles. There were many foreign versions of the system, most notably:

  • AT-3 Soviet version
  • HJ-73 Chinese version
  • RAAD Iranian version
  • Susong-Po North Korean version
  • Maliutka M2T Romanian version
  • POLK Sovenian version
  • Kun Wu 1 Taiwanese version

These are the operator countries:

( these are only current, state actors using the system )