|This page is about the Russian air-to-ground missile 9M120 Ataka. For the other version, see 9M120-1 Ataka.
The 9M120 Ataka is a Russian SACLOS-guided air-to-ground missile. It was introduced in Update 1.81 "The Valkyries".
The Ataka is a development of the earlier 9M114 Shturm missile family with an improved warhead and booster. It looks almost identical as a result, the main difference being the prominent nose probe for the tandem charge. The Ataka largely fixes the flaws of the preceding "Kokon" with much greater lethality and adds an extra kilometer of range as well, resulting in a straightforward all-round missile.
Vehicles equipped with this weapon
|Missile guidance time
|4.48 kg TNTeq
The Ataka's 800 mm of flat penetration is quite good, equaling the TOW-2, and enough to punch holes in most contemporary ground targets. However many top-tier MBTs have strong composite armour in their turrets with more than 800 mm of chemical protection, so it's best to target hull armour. The tandem warhead allows it to remain effective against tanks with ERA, but not always - the ERA variants used by contemporary Chinese MBTs such as the ZTZ96A are immune to tandem warheads and the Ataka does not have enough penetration to brute force through. Compared to the 9M114, the Ataka has about half a kilogram of extra TNT equivalent for additional effectiveness against light targets.
Comparison with analogues
- AGM-114B Hellfire - functionally a very different missile from the Ataka, with semi-active laser guidance and a top attack profile. In terms of firepower, the Hellfire has much greater penetration and TNT equivalent, but it lacks a tandem warhead and takes longer to reach its target.
- HOT-3 - a fellow high-tier SACLOS holdout, the HOT-3 is much more powerful than the Ataka with a tandem warhead penetrating 1,250 mm of RHA, but it has a 4.30 km max range and a paltry 250 m/s maximum flight speed that makes it very inconvenient to use.
- AKD-9 - the AKD-9 has the same penetration and range as the Ataka but functions like a slower Hellfire with less TNT equivalent. Generally outperformed by the Ataka outside of edge cases like lock-on-after launch.
- L-UMTAS - another Hellfire-like missile, the UMTAS has a powerful tandem warhead and good range for its battle rating but suffers from a glacial 180 m/s maximum speed that makes the HOT-3 seem fast and the Ataka seem hypersonic.
Usage in battles
The Ataka is a straightforward, no-nonsense missile at a rank where many helicopter pilots of other nations have to learn the ropes of the Hellfire. With no laser designator to worry about, using it is as simple as locking on with the auto tracker and firing, making any desired adjustments to the auto-tracker aim point as the missile flies within the pilot's field of view. Since the missile directly follows the cursor, it's easier to keep track of a target that's moving between cover or bushes. This simplicity also precludes it from some of the Hellfire's advanced functions like salvo firing (for double taps or multi-target engagement) and lock-on-after launch (for hiding from SAMs). Instead of system management, the Ataka asks for some attention to detail in how to dispatch enemies, since a direct-fire missile with 800 mm of raw penetration isn't always effective against advanced MBTs from the front. Identify targets carefully and aim for weak points such as hull or side armour.
Pros and cons
- Powerful tandem charge warhead is generally sufficient for frontal attacks against modern MBTs
- Retains fast flight speed from the Shturm, has longer range too
- Direct flight path means shorter time to target than Hellfire-like missiles
- Outranged by the Hellfire
- No salvo firing capability, only one Ataka can be guided at a time
- No lock-on-after launch, user must be exposed for entire flight duration against SAMs
- Warhead isn't powerful enough for sturdy composite armour or advanced tandem-warhead-resistant ERA
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