The 9M14 Malyutka, NATO codename AT-3 Sagger, is classified as a wire-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system.
In modern warfare, one of the most popular and effective anti-tank weapons against enemy armored vehicles is anti-tank missile systems (ATGMs). They are weapons with a long history of development dating back to the first half of the 20th century and are constantly evolving to become one of the standard anti-tank weapons on the modern battlefield. By 1962, the image of the ATGM 9M14 Malyutka on military vehicles participating in the parade in Red Square opened the era of the most effective anti-tank weapon of the 20th century.
The 9M14 Malyutka, NATO codename AT-3 Sagger, is classified as a wire-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system. It was the first man-portable anti-tank guided missile of the Soviet Union and is probably the most widely produced ATGM of all time—with Soviet production peaking at 25,000 missiles a year during the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, copies of the missile have been manufactured under various names by at least six countries.
The Malyutka has a recognizable design, with a pointed nose containing a HEAT warhead and oversized fins, that is stored inside the 9K11 portable fiberglass launcher. At the same price as a black and white TV in the 1960s, Malyutka can accurately hit targets at a distance of up to 3km and can penetrate 400mm of standard steel armor. The missile can be fired from a portable suitcase launcher, ground vehicles and helicopters. The missile takes about five minutes to deploy from its 9P111 fibreglass suitcase, which also serves as the launching platform.
A Malyutka unit requires a three-man crew of two soldiers for carrying the missiles and a third “senior operator” carrying the 9S415 control panel and its monocular sight/periscope. The operator’s adjustments are transmitted to the missile via a thin three-strand wire that trails behind the missile. With an effective range of 2.5 km and a reliable Manual Command Line of Sight guidance system, Malyutka made an impressive debut.
The two most serious defects of the original weapon are its minimum range of between 500 and 800 metres and the amount of time it takes the slow moving missile to reach maximum range—around 30 seconds—giving the intended target time to take appropriate action. Later versions of the missile addressed these problems by implementing the much easier to use SACLOS guidance system, as well as upgrading the propulsion system to increase the average flight speed.
This is a very dangerous anti-tank weapon because of the fact that at that time, no tank could withstand it. Along with the popularity of Malyutka was the introduction of self-propelled anti-tank missile vehicles based on the BRDM-1 and BRDM-2 armored vehicle chassis. Even the Soviet Union at that time had an ambitious project to build tanks capable of launching missiles to optimize maneuverability and firepower.
Because of its effectiveness in combat, Malyutka took part in most of the conflicts of the second half of the 20th century. Malyutka’s first engagement was on April 23, 1972, when North Vietnamese Army units clashed with South Vietnamese tanks in Quang Tri Province near the 17th Parallel. The resulting engagement knocked out an American-made M48A3.
In the Middle East battlefield, the Israeli Army has lost a lot of tanks to this type of ATGM in the service of the Egyptian Army. British-made Centurion tanks and American-made M60 tanks faced an existential threat against Malyutka missiles. The Malyutka could penetrate 430 mm of steel armor. Examining Soviet accounts reveals the IDF lost hundreds of tanks to Malyutka missiles within a few days.