Military Wiki
Type Anti-tank missile
Place of origin United Kingdom
Service history
Used by See text
Production history
Produced 1966-1993
Number built 46,650 [1]
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.[1]


Swingfire was developed by Fairey Engineering Ltd and the British Aircraft Corporation. It replaced the Vickers Vigilant missile in British service. It was a product of both its predecessor the Vigilant and the experimental Orange William missile.

The name comes from the ability of the missile 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 can be concealed and the operator, using a portable sight, placed at a distance in a more advantageous firing position.

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

  • Beeswing - on a Land Rover
  • Hawkswing - on a Lynx helicopter [1]
  • Golfswing - on a small trolley or Argocat vehicle.

Combat history

Swingfire has seen combat use in the Gulf War [2] 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.[3][4]


  • Diameter: 170 mm
  • Wingspan: 0.39 m
  • Length: 1.07 m
  • Weight: 27 kg
  • Warhead: 7 kg HEAT
  • Range: 150 m to 4000 m
  • Velocity: 185 m/s [1]
  • Guidance: Wire-guided, originally MCLOS, later upgraded to SACLOS, in which form the system is known as SWIG (Swingfire With Improved Guidance).[1]
  • Steering: Thrust Vectored Control (TVC)
  • Penetration: 800 mm RHA[5]
  • Unit cost: £7,500 [6]


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
Belgian Army [1]
Egyptian Army [7]
  • Swingfire missiles were also produced in Egypt under license by Arab-British Dynamics.[8]
Nigerian Army[10]
Portuguese Army
  • Used on the Chaimite armoured fighting vehicle, now retired.
 Saudi Arabia

Ferret Mk 5 at the Bovington Tank Museum

SPAF [9][11]
 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.[12] The warheads, with a total explosive weight equivalent to 64.2 kg of TNT,[13] were never located.[14]

See also

  • CVR(T)

Notes and references

External links

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