AT-1K Raybolt: Meet the South Korean third-generation top attack ATGM

AT-1K anti tank missile
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In 2007, South Korea began designing and developing a new advanced anti-tank missile that was supposed to replace the 25 years old existing anti-tank guided missiles in the service with the Republic of Korea Military. South Korea had set up a list of goals that was to be fulfilled by the New ATGM, the new weapon was expected to have world class performance, cost-efficiency, reliability, low weight and export competitiveness through localization of core components.

One of the reasons for the development of the Raybolt was that South Korean outdated anti-tank missiles, such as the TOW missiles and recoilless guns lacked tandem-warhead and would not be able to destroy modern North Korean tanks equipped with explosive reactive armor (ERA).

The Raybolt is produced by LIG Nex1 defense company in cooperation with South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development. Approximately 95% of the Raybolt components are locally made in South Korea. The manufacturer of Raybolt positioned this ATGM as the competitor of the American FGM-148 Javelin and Israeli Spike-MR ATGMs.

Capabilities and features

The AT-1K Raybolt is a man-portable third-generation anti-tank guided missile. It has fire-and-forget capability using an infrared imaging seeker and has a tandem-warhead to defeat explosive reactive armor. The Raybolt has top attack and direct attack modes. It is the first ATGM to be built by South Korea and entered mass production in June 2017.

The most interesting feature of the Raybolt is its infrared imaging seeker which helps the missile to be operated and launched in fire-and-forget mode. The overall designing and development of the Raybolt was completed in a very short time period of time, in just four years. The Raybolt is a battle tested weapon, the missile was used by Saudi-backed armed forces against the Houthis during the Yemeni Civil War in 2018. The missile was also used in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war.

The Raybolt has the mass of 20 kg, and the maximum firing range of 2,500 meters. The missile can be either fired by two soldiers on foot or by a single soldier when mounted on a vehicle. The missile launcher uses a thermal weapon sight for day and night operations. The Raybolt uses a smokeless propellant and can be easily fired from within a building. South Korea has plans to equip the Raybolt ATGM on military helicopters. The missile uses a soft launch mechanism to escape the barrel of the launcher before activating the main flight motor. Per unit cost of the Raybolt is 77,310.27 USD.

Saudi Arabia soldier firing AT-1K in Yemen
Saudi Arabia soldier firing AT-1K in Yemen

The Raybolt’s HEAT tandem warhead gives excellent performance of penetration of 900 mm of RHA beyond defeating ERA. Also with the weight of only 20 kg which includes the launcher weight also, the Raybolt is lightweight as compared to its competitors such as the American Javelin (22.3 kg) and Israeli Spike (44 kg) ATGMs.

Raybolt platforms and operators

Currently, the Raybolt ATGM can be launched from multiple platforms such as ATGM carrier, man-portable launcher and K808 Armored Personnel Carrier or anti-tank vehicle. The missile can be carried by a two-man crew or fitted to fire from vehicles. The South Korean Army uses an anti-tank version of the Kia Motors 4×4 Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) called the K-153C; the roof of the vehicle is equipped with a launcher turret with two missiles ready to fire and four additional missiles are carried inside the vehicle.

The Raybolt is currently used by the military forces of South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. The Raybolt has been marketed to India and South America.

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