Saturday, August 4, 2007

About Those Missiles

Sarkozy has agreed to a parliamentary investigation of the recent negotiations with Libya, so we will undoubtedly learn more in the months to come. EADS has already confirmed that it did sign a contract to provide Libya with 164 million euros' worth of Milan antitank missiles. A question that may have been plaguing you as it has been plaguing me is, "Why does Libya need antitank missiles?" The same question has evidently been on the mind of Libération's military correspondent, Jean-Dominique Merchet, who takes it up today in his blog. He notes that although Libya is not threatened by any force with large numbers of tanks, Milan missiles were effectively used against Libyan forces in Chad. Merchet speculates that Kadhafi may intend to distribute the missiles to allies in Chad, Central Africa, and perhaps even Darfur.

MILAN is a portable medium-range, anti-tank weapon manufactured by Euromissile, based in Fontenay-aux-Roses in France. Euromissile is a consortium originally set up by Aerospatiale-Matra of France and DaimlerChrysler Aerospace of Germany, now a subsidiary of the EADS company.

MILAN (French: Missile d´infanterie léger antichar = Anti-Tank Light Infantry Missile) is a second-generation European anti-tank guided missile. Design of the MILAN started in 1962. It was ready for trials in 1971, and was accepted for service in 1972. It is a wire guided SACLOS (Semi-Automatic Command to Line-Of-Sight) missile, which means the sight of the launch unit has to be aimed at the target to guide the missile. The MILAN can be equipped with a MIRA thermal sight, to give it night-firing ability.