Armor: February 17, 2003

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The LOSAT (Line Of Sight Anti-Tank) missile was developed during the 1990s, but never got a lot of traction because of cost and competition issues. The older TOW missile was still able to handle any enemy tank out there, and the lighter weight Javelin was coming along to help out the infantry who would be lugging it around. LOSAT is an interesting concept. The 162.5mm, 174 pound, 9.4 foot long missile operates more like a tank shell than a guided missile. Most of the missile is rocket fuel, quickly accelerating to twice the speed of a rifle bullet once launched. The warhead is a tungsten rod, which uses the enormous velocity of the missile to punch through any existing tank (including the U.S. M-1). The short flight time (five seconds at the maximum range of eight kilometers), makes it impossible for the enemy to react. The LOSAT guidance system is "fire and forget" and works just as well at night. The operator aims, fires and then can drive the six ton hummer vehicle to another firing position. It takes ten minutes to reload the four launching tubes on the Hummer, although LOSAT can be used on helicopters or other vehicles. The eight kilometer range enables the LOSAT to destroy tanks while the enemy is too far away to fire back. The first dozen Hummer firing vehicles, and 108 missiles, are being delivered to an airborne unit. These troops go in without tanks, but can take some Hummers with them. The LOSAT provides defense against enemy tanks. While the Javelin can kill tanks, it does so at ranges where the tanks can fire back. LOSAT can also hit low flying helicopters and aircraft. Work is continuing on lighter versions of LOSAT. 

 


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