ERYX is a short-range portable SACLOS-based wire-guided anti-tank missile (ATGM) produced by European company MBDA. It is used by several countries, including the Canadian Army, French, and Norwegian armies. The weapon can also be used against bunkers and pillboxes. It also has some capability in the anti aircraft role to bring down low flying helicopters, due to its wire guided system. Aside from the French Army the Eryx found eager customers in Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Norway, Serbia, and Turkey. It is produced by MBDA (formerly Aerospatiale-Matra Missiles) of Chatillon, France and by Aerospatiale Canada. Since its introduction 57 000 missiles and more than 3 200 firing posts have been produced and exported. But the Eryx seems to have had its day. Never enjoying the same strong demand as the MILAN, the Eryx is fast being replaced with top attack or flyover ATGM’s like the Javelin, the MME and the Spike.
The Eryx’ existence stems from a requirement to equip French soldiers with their own individual ATGMs that performed better than the legacy MILAN and MILAN 2’s. The Eryx also arrived at an ideal time when the French Army’s own anti-tank rocket launchers like the LRAC F1 or the APILAS were found to be incapable of defeating modern third-generation MBT’s. This makes the Eryx unique among Western ATGM’s, having no rival analogues except for the recent SAAB NLAW, which is a completely different system. The Eryx is also manufactured under license by the Turkish defense contractor MKEK. If imitation is the sincerest forms of flattery, an unlicensed variant of the Eryx is manufactured in Serbia called the Bumbar.
The Eryx system consists of the missile and launch tube and the firing unit. The system can be either shoulder-launched or from a prone position when mounted on the tripod. The Eryx missile is wire-guided, optically tracked with semi-automatic command to line-of-sight (SACLOS) guidance. Fitted in the tail of the missile is an infrared beacon, which emits pulses detected by the sight unit. Course corrections are sent via the wire, which is unspooled as the missile is in flight. The missile is thrust vector controlled, which is efficient even at low speed and allows the launching to be achieved using a small propulsion unit. This allows ‘soft launch’ in enclosed spaces.
The missile is ready to fire in under five seconds. During flight (4.3 seconds to 600m), the gunner only has to maintain the sight on the target. Missile speed is 18m/sec at launch, accelerating to 245m/sec at 600m. Up to five missiles can be fired in two minutes. The missile is armed with a 137mm tandem, shaped-charge high-explosive (HE) warhead capable of penetrating up to 900mm of explosive reactive armour. To counter the threat posed by signal jamming and active protection systems, MBDA kept the Eryx a wire-guided system. To operate it, the gunner simply has to load the armed launch tube onto the firing post that comes with an integrated Mirabel thermal sight manufactured by Thales.