Type Anti-tank missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Used by See text
Production history
Unit cost £7,600 (1984)[1]
Produced 1966-1993
Number built 46,650 [2]
Weight 27 kg
Length 1.07 m
Diameter 0.17 m
Warhead 7 kg HEAT

Engine Solid rocket motor
Wingspan 0.39 m
150 - 4,000 m
Flight ceiling n/a
Speed 185 m/s
Thrust Vector Control

Swingfire was a British wire-guided anti-tank missile developed in the 1960s and produced from 1966 until 1993.[2] The name refers to its ability to make a rapid turn of up to ninety degrees after firing to bring it onto the line of the sighting mechanism. This means that the launcher vehicle could be concealed and the operator, using a portable sight, placed at a distance in a more advantageous firing position.


Swingfire was developed by Fairey Engineering Ltd and the British Aircraft Corporation, together with Wallop Industries Ltd[3] and minor subcontractors. It replaced the Vickers Vigilant missile in British service. Its design incorporated elements from its predecessor the Vigilant and the experimental Orange William missile.

Besides its use on the FV438 Swingfire and the Striker armoured vehicles, Swingfire was developed to be launched from other platforms:

Combat history

Swingfire has seen combat use in the Gulf War [4] and the Iraq War.

Replacement in British Army

After a lengthy debate, the Swingfire was replaced with the Javelin in mid-2005 to meet new and changing situational requirements. The British Army invested heavily in the Javelin, and it is now the main heavy anti-tank missile system in use by the British Army.[5][6]



Map with Swingfire operators in blue and former operators in red
External images
STRIKER firing Swingfire
BEESWING firing Swingfire - missile making turn that gave it its name
GOLFSWING dismounted firing Swingfire
STRIKER crew with dismounted firing post in hiding
Swingfire cut-away illustration

Current operators

Egyptian Army [9]
Kenyan Army[2]
Nigerian Army[12]
 Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian Army[2]
Ferret Mk 5 at The Tank Museum, Bovington
SPAF [11][13]

Former operators

Belgian Army [2]
Iranian Army[14]
Portuguese Army
 United Kingdom
British Army

Decommissioning problems

Swingfire inadvertently became the subject of questions in the Houses of Parliament in March 2002 when 20 warheads, removed for decommissioning, were washed into the Bristol Channel along with 8 anti-tank mines.[15] The warheads, with a total explosive weight equivalent to 64.2 kg of TNT,[16] were never located.[17]

See also

Notes and references

  1. Pattie, Geoffrey. "Weapons and Equipment (Costs)". millbanksystems. millbanksystems. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Swingfire". www.forecastinternational.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-13.
  3. Wallop Pyrotechnics, Flight International, 18/25 June 1977, p. 1854
  4. "Britain's Small Wars". Facebook. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  5. https://web.archive.org/web/20080303111944/http://www.gnn.gov.uk/content/detail.asp?NewsAreaID=2&ReleaseID=165224. Archived from the original on March 3, 2008. Retrieved February 8, 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. "Javelin Portable Anti-Tank Missile - Army Technology". Army-technology.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  7. Stephen Bull, Encyclopedia of military technology and innovation, 2004, Westport: Greenwood Press, p. 257. Other sources have noted the penetration as "up to 2ft thick" (~610-mm).
  8. "Swingfire". Everything2.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  9. John Pike. "Army". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  10. John Pike. "Arab British Dynamics Co. ABD (AOI)". Globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  11. 1 2 Archived January 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. "Nigeria Armee nigeriane forces terrestres equipements vehicules blindes militaires information descr - Nigeria - Africa - world army military military land forces". Armyrecognition.com. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  13. "Sudan, Civil War since 1955". Acig.org. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  14. https://books.google.se/books?id=fhnixhMQqW8C&pg=PA250&lpg=PA250&dq=ENTAC+iran&source=bl&ots=gheOmn4uNS&sig=dzo7EfDC8L0AXzbte6S3mc1TvdM&hl=sv&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi505iQuovKAhXhl3IKHfnrCWkQ6AEISDAG#v=onepage&q=ENTAC%20iran&f=false
  15. "Hansard". Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  16. "Hansard". =Publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  17. David Hencke. "MoD gives up on lost warheads". the Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
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