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The Malkara missile (from an Aboriginal word for "shield") was one of the earliest anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). It was jointly developed by Australia and the United Kingdommarker between 1951 and 1954, and was in service from 1958 until gradually replaced by the Swingfire missile in the late 1960s. It was intended to be light enough to deploy with airborne forces, yet powerful enough to knock out any tank then in service.

Development and operations

The concept of the Malkara was probably inspired by the WWII Germanmarker X-7 anti-tank missile. Design was principally undertaken at the Australian Government Aeronautical Research Laboratory, and this phase was also one of the first examples of computer simulation in engineering design. Development testing was carried out at Woomera Prohibited Areamarker, and approval testing at the tank training range at Lulworth Covemarker, Dorsetmarker. Although testing at Dorset apparently achieved an impressive 90% Pkill, in service the missiles were not considered a great success, due to three principal failures:
  • They were considered too heavy. As they were too heavy for manpacking, they could only be operated from their specialist vehicles, reducing flexibility; and
  • Accuracy achieved in practice was poor. This may have been because the awkward control system required a lot of practice, and there was neither a simulation system nor sufficient missiles for practice firing. In their memoirs, some operators state that they only fired one missile in their careers.
  • Finally, their speed was low, with almost 30 secs to the maximum range

Malkara-equipped vehicle
However, lessons learned from the Malkara project led to improvements in later programs. In addition, the basic airframe and expertise were directly used in the development of the Ikara anti-ship missile and the Sea Cat surface-to-air missile.

Malkara was unusual amongst anti-tank missiles in that it had a High Explosive Squash Head (HESH), also known as High Explosive Plastic (HEP), warhead instead of the more usual shaped charge HEAT (High Explosive Anti Tank) warhead. The United Kingdom showed always interest for HESH, the main explosive-based anti-tank ammunition in British use including tanks like the Centurion. A 26/27 kg anti-tank warhead was well above the average, but Malkara had a caliber of .



  • Length: 1.9 m (6.3 ft)
  • Diameter: 200 mm (8 in)
  • Wingspan: 800 mm (2.6 ft)
  • Range: 4,000 m (4400 yd)
  • Propulsion: Dual thrust solid rocket
  • Speed: 146.19 m/s (327 mph) - low-subsonic, 28 sec to 4 km max range
  • Overall weight: 93.5 kg (206 lb)
  • Warhead: 26 kg (57 lb) HESH
  • Guidance: Wire guided MCLOS, using a thumb joystick and visual observation of two flares on the wings.
  • Number built: 1000

See also



  • War Machine encyclopedia, Aerospace Publishing Ltd., pag. 253 (in Italian version printed by De Agostini, 1984).
  • Rockets and Missiles - John W. R. Taylor - Hippo Books No 8 - Hamlyn, 1971 - ISBN 0-0600-37528-5

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