The 9K11 Malyutka (Russian: Малютка; little or tiny baby) is the (NATO reporting name: AT-3 Sagger) is an MCLOS wire-guided anti-tank guided missile developed in the Soviet Union. 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 five countries.
The designs were based on the western ATGMs of the 1950s, such as the French Entac and the Swiss Cobra. In the end, the prototype developed by the Kolomna Machine Design Bureau, who were also responsible for the AT-1 Snapper, was chosen. Initial tests were completed by 20 December 1962, and the missile was accepted for service on 16 September 1963.
In Soviet service the man-portable version was deployed as part of the anti-tank platoon of motor rifle battalions. Each platoon has two Malyutka sections, each with two teams. Each team has two launcher stations. One assistant gunner in each team serves as a RPG-7 gunner. The RPG-7 is needed to cover the 500 meter deadzone created by the minimum range of the missile. It is also an integrated part of the BMP-1, BMD-1 and BRDM-2 vehicles.
It was used successfully in the 1973 Yom Kippur War by the Syrian and Egyptian armies. On average each missile team expended 20 rounds—or about 2,000 rounds per division during the war. Soviet sources claim that the missile accounted for 800 Israeli tank losses during the war, though some sources report as high as 1,063 — but this probably includes tanks that were out of action for less than 24 hours.
The missile can be fired from a portable suitcase launcher (9P111), ground vehicles (BMP-1, BRDM-2) and helicopters (Mi-2, Mi-8, Mi-24). The missile takes about 5 minutes to deploy from its 9P111 fibreglass suitcase, which also serves as the launching platform.
The missile is guided to the target by means of a small joystick (9S415); this requires some skill on the part of the operator. The operator's adjustments are transmitted to the missile via a thin 3 strand wire that trails behind the missile. The missile climbs into the air immediately after launch, which prevents the missile hitting obstacles or the ground. In flight the missile spins at 8.5 revolutions per second—it is initially spun by its booster, and the spin is maintained by the slight angle of the wings. The missile uses a small gyroscope to orient itself relative to the ground; as a result the missile can take some time to bring back in line with the target, which gives it a minimum range of somewhere between 500 m and 800 m. For targets under 1000 m, the operator can guide the missile by eye; for targets beyond this range the operator uses the 8x power, 22.5 degree field of view 9Sh16 periscope sight.
The engagement envelope is a 3 km, 45 degree arc centered on the missiles launch axis. At ranges under 1.5 km this arc reduces, until at 500 m range the missile can only hit targets 50 m either side of the center line. It should be noted that accuracy falls off away from the launch axis—falling to approximately half its optimal accuracy at the extremes.
While early estimates of the missile hitting the target ranged from 90% to 60%, experience has shown that it is really between 25% and 2% depending on the situation and skill of the operator. MCLOS requires considerable skill on the part of the operator: reportedly it takes 2,300 simulated firings to become proficient with the missile as well as 50 to 60 simulated firings a week to maintain the skill level.
The two most serious defects of this weapon system are its minimum range of between 500 m and 800 m (targets that are closer cannot be effectively engaged) 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 evasive maneuver, either by retreating behind an obstacle/dune, laying down a smoke-screen or returning fire on the operator.
Later version of the missile address 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.