Panther MANPAD System
Type:Manportable / Vehicle mounted surface-to-air/Air-to-Air Use Missile
Place of origin: Port Ember
In Service: 2003–present
Manufacturer: Hydra Industries
Produced: November 2003
Variants: MANPADS / Air Launched
Mass: 14.00 kg
Length: 1.397 m
Diameter: 13 cm
Crew for MANPADS: 01
Effective firing range: 7+km
Warhead: Three explosive sub-munitions ("darts")
Detonation Mechanism: Impact Delay
First stage: Cast double-based propellant blip rocket motor.
Second stage: Cast double-based propellant
Speed: Mach 4+
Guidance System: SACLOS
The Panther Missile System is a new generation, Port Emberian Missile System. It is designed as an Man Portable shoulder launched, and aerial launched Anti-Air Missile. It can be launched from a vehicle (currently employed on the Hydra Black Eagle Helicopter), or as a short range man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS). The system is manufactured by Hydra Industries in The Republic of Port Ember.
After launch, the missile accelerates to more than Mach 4, making it one of the fastest short-range surface-to-air missiles in the world. It then launches three laser beam riding submunitions, increasing the likelihood of a successful hit on the target. Panther has been in service with the Port Ember Security Forces since 2003.
Development on the missile began in the early 2000's after an evaluation of missile and gun options to increase air defence capabilities showed that a high-velocity missile system would best meet the needs and could also replace existing shoulder-launched missiles. A General Staff Requirement was drawn up with the requirements of the system, specifying the requirement of two launch platforms for the missile:
A aerial vehicle based launcher.
A Light 3 Missile Stand launcher
A man-portable launcher.
In 2000, the Port Emberian Ministry of Defence awarded development contracts to Hydra Industries. Further development and a production contract materialized in November 2002, and the missile was officially accepted into service in September 2003.
The Panther missile is transported in a sealed launch tube. This tube is attached to an aiming unit for firing. The operator tracks the target using the aiming unit's optically stabilized sight. The process of tracking the target allows the aiming unit to compute the right trajectory to bring the missile together with the target. The operator can indicate wind direction to the unit and, in the case of a long range target, provide superelevation. When the initial tracking is complete, the operator fires the missile by pressing a button.
The missile then fires the first-stage rocket motor, which launches the missile from the tube – but burns out before leaving the tube to protect the operator. Four meters away from the operator, when the missile is a safe distance away, the second stage fires, which rapidly accelerates the missile to burn out velocity of more than Mach 4. As the second stage burns out, three dart sub-munitions are released.
The dart housing is made from a tungsten alloy. The darts are each 396 millimetres long with a diameter of 22 millimetres and weighs about 900 grams. Around half the weight of each dart, approximately 450 g, is its explosive charge, detonated by a delayed-action, impact activated fuze. Each dart consists of a rotating fore-body with two canard fins attached to a non-rotating rear assembly which has four fins. The rear assembly of each dart also houses the electronics that guide the missile, including a rearwards facing sensor.
The darts do not home in on laser energy reflected from the target but instead the aiming unit projects two laser beams which paint a two dimensional matrix upon the target. The lasers are modulated and by examining these modulations the sub-munition's sensor can determine the dart's location within the matrix, the dart is then steered to keep it in the centre of the matrix. The sub-munitions steer by briefly decelerating the rotating fore-body with a clutch. The front wings then steer the missile in the appropriate direction. The three sub-munitions fly in a formation about 1.5 meters in radius, and have enough kinetic energy to manoeuvre to meet a target evading at 9 g at 7,000 meters.
Earlier laser guidance systems used a single beam that had to be kept on the target at all times, the missile homing in on laser energy reflected off the target, if it moved off the target, the reflection would end and guidance would be lost until the target was regained. The problem could be reduced by making the laser's beam wider, but only at the cost of lowering accuracy and reducing the amount of energy being reflected. Panther's system allows for the beam area to be much larger than the target while retaining pinpoint accuracy.
On impact with the target, a delayed action fuze is triggered. This gives time for the projectile to penetrate the target before the explosive warhead detonates. The tungsten housing is designed to fragment and produce maximum damage inside the target.
Each sub-munition dart travelling at 1,250 metres per second has enough kinetic energy to destroy a wide variety of targets: helicopters, jetcraft and even (but not specifically made to engage) certain armoured fighting vehicles and older tanks.
Panther has a number of advantages over infrared homing guided, radar homing guided, and radio command guidance MCLOS/SACLOS (e.g. Blowpipe or Javelin) missiles:
It cannot be jammed by infrared countermeasures or radar/radio countermeasures.
It cannot be suppressed with anti-radar missiles.
Its high speed makes it more likely to be able to intercept a fast moving aircraft.
Three submunitions increase the size of the lethal area, increasing the probability that the target will be hit by at least one submunition.
Its high speed reduces the amount of time for effective usage of any potential countermeasure, such as the beam manoeuvring or illuminating the guidance laser source with a dazzling battlefield laser.
- Surface-to-Air MANPAD
- Air-to-Air Air vehicle launched
- 3 Missile Stand launcher