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Pakistan’s Anti-Tank Guided Missile Requirements

Based on its purchase for 52 Kornet-E units in 2017-2018, it appears that the Pakistan Army is moving to modernize its anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) inventory.

The current mainstays of the Army’s anti-tank missile stocks are the Bakhtar-Shikan (based on the Chinese HJ-8) and BGM-71 TOW. Both of these are optically tracked, wire-guided anti-tank missiles that can launch from land (via infantry and vehicles) and air (using the AH-1F/S Cobra attack helicopter).

However, for the future, the Army is evidently moving towards wireless ATGMs that use semi-active laser homing (SALH) and, potentially, other types of seekers for greater deployment flexibility.

In addition, the ATGMs the Army evaluated – or is in the process of evaluating – generally offer more range than the TOW or Bakhtar-Shikan, potentially by a factor of more than 2X.

Besides an extensive induction run, it will be worth seeing if Pakistan standardizes on a specific ATGM so that it could domestically manufacture it through the long-term (and supplant its older ATGM stocks). Or as an alternative, pursue an ATGM project of its own in parallel to the imports.


In 2014-2015, the Pakistan Army ordered 1,413 Alcotán-100 100 mm anti-tank rockets with 158 VOSEL (M2) firing control unit for $24.76 million US from the Spanish company Instalaza. In 2017-2018, the Army ordered an additional 369 VOSEL (M2s) in 2017-2018 for $9.04 million US.

The Alcotán-100 is different from the other ATGMs the Army is considering in that it does not contain its own guidance unit (e.g., seeker), but rather, relies on the firing control unit, the VOSEL.

The VOSEL is a reusable firing unit with built-in night vision and target tracking. The VOSEL calculates the position and trajectory (or future position) of a moving target. Though the rocket is unguided, the VOSEL will set an accurate target point for the user to fire at, thereby increasing the rocket’s accuracy/kill-rate.

The end-user pairs it with the Alcotán rocket, which comes in three variants:

  • The Alcotán AT (M2), a 10.5 kg anti-tank variant.
  • The Alcotán BIV (M2), a 10 kg dual-purpose anti-armour and fragmentation rocket.
  • The Alcotán ABK (M2), a 9.8 kg anti-bunker variant.

Each version offers a range of 600 m against specific point targets, though the BIV (M2) can cover a range of more than 1,000 m against area targets.

The penetration will vary with each variant. The AT (M2) offers a penetration of 700 mm against explosive reactive armour and steel, while the BIV (M2) and ABK (M2) provide 400 mm and 600 mm, respectively.

The Pakistan Army selected the AT (M2), so its evidently planning to arm infantry to target tanks and other armoured vehicles. However, the VOSEL (M2) firing unit can work with the BIV and ABK as well, so if the need arises, Pakistan can readily augment its stocks and acquire new capabilities.

However, a constraint with the Alcotán is that the rocket relies on the VOSEL (M2), without which it is not usable. Moreover, it is not known if Pakistan intends to manufacture either system.

Unfortunately, with a cross-dependency (i.e., the VOSEL needing the Alcotán and vice-versa) the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Instalaza has an incentive to withhold transfer-of-technology for one of those, should Pakistan look to manufacture them domestically.

In addition, the Army also ordered 52 Kornet-E systems for $62.46 million US. Not only is the Kornet-E a larger missile, but it the missile has a built-in SALH seeker. It offers a range of up to 5,500 m, and it has a weight of 26 kg. It is likely that the Army’s order comprises of hundreds of missiles.

Thus, with the Kornet-E and Alcotán-100, the Army is equipping its infantry with anti-tank missiles in the ~25 kg and ~10 kg range, respectively. The idea is to equip the infantry into becoming an anti-tank threat.

However, with the current procurement roadmap totalling fewer than 2,000 Kornet-Es and Alcotán-100s, and with around 550 firing units, it is clear that the new ATGMs are not yet at full-scale deployment. It is also unclear if the Army has settled on both of these systems for its long-term, force-wide requirements.

Through its other projects, Pakistan is evaluating other similar ATGMs.


Under the $1.5 billion US contract with Turkish Aerospace for 30 T129 ATAK attack helicopters, Pakistan will acquire the Roketsan L-UMTAS and UMTAS.[1]

The L-UMTAS weighs 37.5 kg, and it has a range of 500 m to 8,000 m. Like the Kornet-E, the L-UMTAS uses a SALH seeker. Roketsan is offering the L-UMTAS in two variants: one equipped with a tandem high-energy anti-tank warhead, and one with a high-explosive blast fragmentation warhead.

The UMTAS is similar to the L-UMTAS in terms of range and warhead types, but it comes with an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, which offers a measure of fire-and-forget capability. In addition, the UMTAS can offer top-attack capability, i.e., it aims for the ceiling or weakest point of the armoured vehicle.

It is not known how many L-UMTAS/UMTAS the Army is procuring with the ATAKs, but given how it asked for 1,000 AGM-114R Hellfire II ATGMs from the US with 15 AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters, the L-UMTAS and UMTAS order could be significant in quantity.

Roketsan said that it is also speaking to the Pakistan Army on a L-UMTAS/UMTAS and OMTAS ATGM order outside of the ATAK program.[2] According to Roketsan, missile tests in this regard will take place in 2019.

Thus, it appears that the Army’s ATGM requirements are still open-ended, and depending on these tests, it could potentially order additional L-UMTAS/UMTAS/OMTAS ATGMs. In this case, it would have a large number of missiles on order, and that could justify domestic manufacturing.

The domestic manufacture of a new ATGM appears to be on Pakistan’s roadmap. It reportedly discussed the issue with Ukraine in recent years.[3]

Armoured Vehicles

At the 2018 International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) displayed a prototype of its Viper ‘multipurpose infantry fighting vehicle’ (MIFV). The Viper MIFV was equipped with AT-6 Sprandrel ATGMs.[4] However, the Army could equip its IFVs with the Kornet-E or UMTAS/OMTAS.

Pakistan can potentially deploy ATGMs across a diverse range of vehicles, including IFVs as well as wheeled armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) and light armoured vehicles (LAV), should it opt to induct those systems.

The Impact of Widespread ATGM Deployment

For Pakistan, widely deploying ATGMs, especially top-attack ones, could be an effort to build a credible form of conventional deterrence. Though efforts are underway to equip tanks with hard-kill and soft-kill active protection systems (APS), doing so across thousands of tanks is a high-cost effort. Furthermore, the effectiveness of such APS may not be consistent against modern ATGMs.[5]

While recognizing that Indian (alongside Pakistani) tanks could use new APS, the Army could bank on the idea of it not being cost-effective enough to stop every ATGM threat. In turn, the Pakistan Army may look at equipping tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles, and infantry, with ATGMs to raise the threat level for opposing tanks. Likewise, platforms such as the Viper MIFV could be sought to supplement Pakistan’s own tanks as integrated armoured formations, thus giving those tanks additional anti-tank support.

But switching to SALH seeker equipped ATGMs will have its challenges. First, it would require inducting a large number of laser-designators. These could accompany the firing units, but it is still an added cost for deploying the new missiles. Second, it requires new training, doctrine, procedures, etc.

This would be a challenging endeavour for an army as large as Pakistan’s, but the small batch purchases of the Kornet-E and Alcotán

However, just as ATGMs can be a threat to the enemy, India’s ATGMs will also be a threat to Pakistan. In fact, India is embarking on a $465.3 million US plan to procure ATGMs capable of fire-and-forget and top-attack at wide-scale.[6] Thus, ATGMs will proliferate on both sides of the border.

[1] “IDEAS 2018 Special – ROKETSAN Ready to Deliver Striking Force for Pakistan’s ATAK Helicopters.” MSI Turkish Defence Review. 11 February 2019. URL:

[2] Ibid.

[3] Jon Grevatt. “Ukraine highlights expanding opportunities in Pakistan.” Jane’s Defence Weekly. 30 November 2018. URL:

[4] Dmitry Fediushko. “Pakistan’s HIT unveils Viper IFV.” Jane’s Defence Weekly. 29 November 2018. URL:

[5] Jen Judson. “Active protection systems demo hits dead end for Stryker; US Army evaluates next steps.” Defense News. 10 June 2019. URL:

[6] “Govt approves procurement of indigenously developed military hardware worth Rs 3300cr.” The Times of India. 21 October 2019. URL:

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