The Vickers Vigilant was a British MCLOS wire guided anti-tank missile used by the British Army. It was licence-built for the US Marine Corps as Clevite in the USA.
Vigilant was developed for the anti-tank role in the British Army, the name being formed from VI
Vigilant was wire-guided
and optically tracked, like its successor Swingfire
. As well as infantry use, it could be mounted on vehicles such as the Ferret armoured car
and Land Rovers
The missile system can be deployed in a number of configuration. The man-portable configuration consists of a launcher which doubles up as a transport container, a combined sight and controller, a battery
and a 63 meter long cable. An optional Missile Selector Box allowed up to 6 missiles to be controlled by, and widely separated from, a single sight controller. The launcher box is placed on the ground facing the direction of expected targets, and then connected by the cable to the sight controller, which can be deployed some distance away. The sight controller is a pistol grip design, with two grips. The front grip has the launch trigger, and the rear grip has a thumb joystick
for steering the missile. A low-magnification (3.2x) monocular
forms the sight itself. Engraved stadia lines
allow simple ranging, based on a typical tank target bridging the lines once in range.
The operator tracks the target using the sight mechanism, then launches the missile using the front trigger. Once the missile is in flight, he steers the missile into his line of sight using the thumb joystick. The missile's auto pilot uses a gyroscope to maintain a straight flightpath directly away from the launch point, compensating for any wind buffeting. When the operating moves the joystick, the missile applies a steering correction in the appropriate direction, once the joystick is released the opposite correction is applied automatically, keeping the missile travelling directly away from the launch point. Vigilant has a reputation for ease of control and high success with minimal operator training. This was largely due to the 'velocity control' method of Vigilant, relying on gyroscopes, rather than the simpler 'acceleration control' of competing missiles such as Entac or SS.11.
The missile reaches its maximum range of 1,375 meters in 12.5 seconds. In testing the missiles shaped charge warhead penetrated 576 millimeters of armour of 30 to 35 HRC.
- Brassey's Infantry Weapons of the World, J.I.H. Owen
- The 'Secret' World of Vickers Guided Weapons, J. Forbat, Tempus, 2006, ISBN 0-7524-3769-0