October 21, 2012: French Milan ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles) have been spotted in Gaza. These are believed to be from Libya, part of the thousands of weapons looted from government bases during the civil war there last year. Egypt has captured many of these weapons as smugglers brought them in. The most eager buyer for the missiles were various terrorist groups in Gaza. In addition to 400 Milan launchers Libya owned, Qatar sent over fifty to the rebels last year. Most of the Milan systems in Libya were accounted for after the rebellion ended in late 2011. If Milans are in Gaza, there won’t be a lot of them. Still, they pose a threat to some Israeli armored vehicles if the Israeli troops go into Gaza again.
Designed by European firm MBDA, Milan is an older missile technology that can still get the job done if used against lightly armored vehicles and older tanks. The basic Milan is a 1.2 meter long, 125mm diameter, 7.1 kg (16 pound) missile. It has a minimum range of 400 meters and maximum range of 2,000 meters. At max range the missile takes about 13 seconds to reach its target. The missile is guided to the target by the operator via a thin wire. The launcher weighs 21 kg (46 pounds). The missile can penetrate about a meter (39 inches) of armor, making it effective against all but the most modern tanks (M-1, Challenger, Leopard 2). Since the 1970s, over 350,000 Milan missiles and 30,000 launchers have been built worldwide. More modern ATGM are wireless and require much less effort on the part of the operator but they are more expensive. Milans are now being phased out in favor of more modern designs. France recently went looking for a MILAN replacement and the two finalists were the American Javelin and Israeli Spike MR. Javelin won but it was close.