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How to fight tanks with ATGM

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So you got handed a ATGM unit, now what? Most players in Steelbeasts are very comfortable with tanks and IFV as those are normally the reason a person got the software in the first place.

Not many know how ATGM works or how to properly use them, as a result their first attempts with the ATGM system ends in failures and gives them a bad taste for ATGM and a view that they suck on the armored battlefield .

And that could not be more wrong! Properly used ATGM’s can make a huge difference on the battlefield and be a key part in the battlefield commanders magic hat and I will go through some basics to help users get along better with the ATGM’s in Steelbeasts.

Note: ATGM in real life have allot of weaknesses not simulated in Steelbeasts yet like flying over powerline, bigger water obstacles etc so I will not mention those, if they show up in Steelbeasts in the future I will update this post.

What is a ATGM and what does it do?

I will not go through every detail of how ATGM works as it would take forever and there is already good enough articles on that on the big web, but to properly use them you need to have a basic understanding of how they work.

ATGM are either guided (with laser or cables, for example TOW, Milan, AT-3/4 BILL) or unguided (locks in on a target and goes for that, like Javelin and Spike) and can be either dismounted or mounted on different platforms like Bradley’s, M113 and Humvee or dedicated ATGM vehicles like the Jaguar or BRDM-AT.

The big difference between a tank and ATGM is that the ATGM is a missile, it’s not a round fired in 1700m/s from a tank gun but need to have an engine of its own to get to its target. And that is one of the bigger weaknesses with the system because that gives long flight time to target, a tank round takes around 1.5 second to 2Km while a ATGM can take around 12-14 seconds. So this needs to be calculated for on the battlefield, and we will get to how later on.

The tactical advantage with ATGM’s is their size, they are manportable by foot by a crew and can move in terrain where vehicles cannot and once in position they leave a very small footprint in the thermals.

(Right now, 3.025 the ATGM system cannot run but only slow straight up walk but this has been hinted will be fixed in future versions so they can sprint and keep a lower stance).

This also goes for most vehicle mounted systems as well, even if the vehicle itself is allot bigger. Look at the picture below to get an idea of the footprint the system leaves when properly placed.


a M113 TOW in BP with low silhouette and good background.


Here seen from a Leo2A4 TIS from 2000m out, you can see the tube on upper left side of the + crosshair.


And here from a M1A2SEP at 2Km with max zoom.

As you can see a properly placed ATGM is a VERY hard system to discover and engage on 1-3km range with a very small profile and heat signature. But as any other system if you do not know how to use them its worthless, so let’s change that.

The placement of the system

An ATGM is like any other system, it needs good conditions to be at its best, and that is something you need to consider when finding and choosing your BP’s (Battle Position).

The basics for choosing a good BP is in Sweden known as “the 8F:s” and other countries use different names etc but I will here use the 8F as it’s the one I know and use, but translated for you guys ;).

  • Clear fields of fire
  • Flanking fire
  • Defendable ranges (don’t be at a 5 km open field when you only reach 2km…)
  • Air cover
  • Frontal cover
  • Field works (foxholes for yourself, obstacles for the enemy to slow them down/force them in your direction etc)
  • Free regroup roads (be sure to be able to get out of trubble as quick as you got in them)
  • Avoid forest edges

As we all know finding a position that matches all of above is just not happening but we at least need to TRY to find as good position from above as possible to make us live longer on the battlefield.

When it comes to ATGM there are two of above that is especially important:

Clear fields of fire & defendable ranges.

Clear fields of fire: trees in front of you, even few small ones are a big trouble. You might have a clear shot when you fire of the ATGM but as you are tracking the target the missile is changing patch and might hit a tree instead of the target – bad day for you.

The importance of clear fields of fire will show itself when we come to working on our range card.

Defendable ranges: ATGM system have a longest range and a shortest range. ATGM systems are not good at close combat, some systems need around 400m before they are activated and working properly and on close ranges the tanks discover you faster. If a system have 2km max range a good combat range is 1000-2000m, - Not to close but not to far.

Also you do not want to sit on a 5km open field when you only can reach 2km, this will increase the risk of you getting discovered before you can engage the enemy and you also risk getting tempted to fire of missiles on targets that are outside your max range, in other words loose the missile to self-destruction.

So when positioning your system try to keep this in mind:

We want a position with good background (signature) on reverse side of a hill so we can give a small signature and back into cover quickly, preferably a solid obstacle between us and the enemy like a house or a small hill so we are not discovered before we can fire. And of course we want flanking positions on the enemy as their best observation is in the front of the tank, the flank or rear are allot worse observation. If we can get away from a forest edge and be in a forest to give us a better signature and air cover that is very good.

We also need a secondary position to switch to so we do not get taken out by artillery once discovered. We also want to use obstacles to force the enemy into our best engagement areas or slow them down so we have longer times to engage them.

And did I mention we want as clear lanes of fire as possible so we don’t hit a tree instead of a tank?

But, now we have been talking about A system all the time, but an ATGM system is a system of systems, to get good results we need to work with mines, obstacles, friendly infantry covering our flanks and artillery to pound the enemy.

Normally you get an ATGM platoon of 2-4 systems that you need to place so they can cover the EA (Engagement Areas) properly and work with them so when one system moves the other system can cover the EA or open fire with all system at the same time to take out a tank platoon directly and not one by one (as the like hood of the enemy tank finding you increases with every missile you launch). And this “bigger picture” is not something I will go into as it is standard stuff even for tanks/IFV and you already should be aware of it.

Missile flight time

Here I have collected a list of flighttimes for all the missiles we have in Steelbeasts right now. Notice on some system (Like BILL and TOW) it is time from trigger pressed to missile hit, not true flight time. (Some systems have 1.5-2 sec calculation before sending off the missile itself). This will be vital when moving on to our range card and it is also good to count your time when you send off the missile, That way you know if something gong wrong before the missile self destruct.

Example: You fire a TOW at a target at 2000m and that should take 11 seconds to impact. but after 13 seconds nothing have happened. This means you have missed your target (flied over the target for example) and you can ditch the missile and reengage target without having to wait further 13 seconds to get confirmed the missile self destruct/hit the dirt.



How to fight tanks with ATGM.rar

Edited by Kingtiger
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Range Card/Target Availability Assesment

So now we will step back down to individual systems again and go to something in English called range card. In Swedish it’s called MTB; Måltillgänglighetsbedömning (Target Availability Assessment) and it’s here the ATGM squad leader has his work cut out for him together with the ATGM gunner.

So here we have our BILL2 ATGM system in position and in front of us is our EA, both in 3D and in map view.



So how do we quickly get the range out? Well first we can use the BP Icon on the ATGM system. If you click your ATGM unit and have them on defence/Hold/stay or whatever you can move the black/white blob back and forth and it will give you a range to the black/white blob and the pink field is also the range of selected system. So that’s a fast and easy way to get a range set out.

But if we want more permanent range markings on the map we need to do them ourself.

What I normally do before scenario start is to create range rings outside the map and then drag into positon when I need them.

So create own graphic – Oval and then type a “X” in the text box. The text box is centered so now you have a zero to work from. Be sure to set text size to 0 or the X will be to big and your results will not be as good as with a smaller “X”.


Now as you need bigger and smaller range rings just put the “X” on where two grids meet each other and drag your oval to next grid line, then you have a 1km range ring. To get 1.5 km just keep dragging until the grid figure on the map shows “50”, then you know you have 500m from the first grid line. If it isn't obvious the "X" is where you put your ATGM system...


So this is how it looks when I am done with the range rings and showing the LOS tool so we do not forget that one. in real life you have a map tool to help you do this, so its pretty quick and simple to do.


The Swedish map tool for ATGM with all you really need on it.

What we are looking for on our range cards are of course RANGE, we want to know range to distance, this will also give us missile flight time to target (and this varies depending on system) as well the limit of how far we can shoot.

We also need to decide what kind of targets we can or cannot engage in our EA, classified as follow:

Static target

Slow target (0-8m/s) [0-29km/h]

Fast target (9-16m/s)[32-57km/h]

WHY do we need to do this classification you ask? The answer is FLIGHT TIME, the big downside with ATGM missiles. For example it takes a TOW 2 23 seconds from the moment you pull the trigger to the missile hits it max range at 3.7km out.

23 seconds is an eternity in combat and a clear target can disappear before the missile arrives and you have sacrificed a missile for nothing and giving your position up at the same time. So this is VERY important and my guess is that it is here most players fails in Steelbeasts, the do not identify what missile window they have resulting in many wasted missiles.

It is here missiles like Spike and Javelin shines, they are using top attack angle and are not affected if a target disappears behind a hill.

So what do we need to know to make our classification on the range card (Or TAS?)

We need to know how fast our missiles goes out to certain ranges and we need to know the range out to the obstacles and the distance between the obstacles. Having a dedicated ATGM map tool really helps out but its fairly easy in Steelbeasts as well using the Battleposition function.

Yes, being a ATGM squad leader is a shit ton of math… (I suck at it so I always carried a calculator with me…)

So looking at our map we have already mapped out that to the farm there is 1300m. Looking at the numbers on how fast a ATGM moves to different ranges (this depends on different systems but I use BILL2 here) and known numbers is 6 seconds to 1000m and 9 seconds to 1500 so I will go with 8 seconds to 1300m. This can also be added to the range rings, so at 1km it says “1km – 6sec” for example. So now we look on the distance between the obstacles, two farms and its 210m.


So with that determined we now need to start calculating on the speed of the enemy to get what speeds they can move in for us to engage them.

Lets start with a slow moving target going 8m/s.

target moving 8m/s x 8 second flighttime equals 64m. and we have 210m between obstacles so yes, we can engage slow moving targets between the two farms.

Lets do the same but for max range, flight time 13 seconds.

8m/s times 13 second flight time: 104m. So we can engage slow moving targets all the way out to max limit between the two farms.

can we engage fast moving targets then? 16m/s x 8 seconds = 128m. So up to the farms yep.

Fast target goes 16m/s x 13 seconds = 208m. So yep we can engage even fast targets (but just barely on the max speed!) So now we continue calculate the entire EA. As we start to get result we mark them on the map, in real life I used XXX zones for areas I cannot engage and /// zones for areas with slow speed only and left the rest of the map clear for fast targets.

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But here I have used colours: Brown for static targets, yellow for slow targets, green for fast targets and red for no targets to show you how it looks.

Normally I would mark out limitations only and with smaller lines, this gritty map is just to make it easier for you to see it all. So let continue mapping our range card.


Thin threeline at 1500m that disrupts our calculations.


And in 3D...

And wops, what do we got here? A thin layer of threes at 1500m.(red area on picture) So up to this point we can engage targets in fast speed, but now what? The trees are in the way of the missile, the like hood of the missile hitting a tree instead of a target is to big so here we need to downgrade to static or slow targets.

So now we are finished with our range card/TAS:


Quick reference/Shortened range card/TAS.

And now we are done with the range/TAS card. Hell of a work you say? Isn’t there an easier way?

of course there is! This is the final complete range card. There is a fast way to do it that is good enough and it’s the first thing we do when we get into a position.

How it is done depends on ATGM system as they all have different sights but all have lines that equals certains mils, just like a binocular. So for BILL2 system you use your sight as a crude refence:

Slow targets can be engaged at max range if the entire sight is clear of obstacles sideways.

fast targets can be engaged at max range if 1 and a halv sight is clear of obstacles sideways.


This method can be used on other ATGM systems or binoculars with mils but first you need to figure out flight times to max distance and how many mils the sight is etc. I will see if I can be arsed to do the calculations for the common ATGM systems in Steelbeasts one day.

Most ATGM systems also have some visual help in the sight that helps you determine the range in a quick YES/NO way, but that is different for each system so you need to read up on the system you use. Or in worst case start working the mils calculation.

Hitting stuff

So now we have done all the boring stuff known as basics and preparation. Now you have the basic understanding to successfully engage targets with your ATGM system right off.

But here I will highlight some things people don’t know or do not think about when it comes to ATGM systems:

Early send off

We know that flight time is our enemy when it comes to battle tanks, so what can we do to shorten the flight time?

Early firing of the missile of course! But how? Look at the forest edge with your thermals and you will see the tank when it still is covered behind trees, but if you see it moving towards the open ground you can fire off the missile so it is almost on the impact point when the tank emerges from the wood. It takes a bit of practice to judge when to shoot but it can also be calculated using flight time and range and mils.

Same goes if you can see a tank moving around a farm and you are sure it will emerge behind the farm, fire of the missile before so the tank and missile meet up when the tank emerges from the farm.

Top attack ATGM

If you have ATGM system with top attack munitions you can engage targets that only show parts of itself, for example on T-72 you can maybe only see the machinegun and antenna sticking up behind a berm. Not a problem, aim as usual and the top attack will fly over the berm, identify a solid mass behind it and detonate on target.


Tank trying to hide behind a berm, but it wont help the poor sod as I have top attack ATGM!

Changing targets

If you by some reason loose the target (it got away, got destroyed by someone else etc) you can switch target midflight if the missile is not to far out already. In real life some missiles have limitations on how much they can turn without destroying itself but Steelbeasts is pretty forgiving so you do not have to worry to much of what limitation each system has when changing target.


This is pretty much what I can think of right now to help people get up to speed with ATGM systems. There are many small paths I could go into depending on what ATGM system you are using but I can not really be arsed to go write on every ATGM system we have in the game. So take this tutorial as a thumb of rule and then figure out the specials regarding your favorite ATGM.

If you have problem understanding anything I have written, have better suggestions or questions just hit it and i will try my best to answer or adjust the posts.


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awesome post!why no forrest edges though?

You stand out more on the edge of a forest. If you move 10-20meter into the forest you use the shadows a bit more to get natural concealment.

This of course has to be judged against how thick the undergrowth is, you might not be able to see out of the forest if you are 20m in etc etc but the goal is to avoid the edges and stay a bit into the forest.

Edit: doesn't make much difference in SB right now, guess it will have more impact when we get more advanced shadowing etc in the future.

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awesome post!why no forrest edges though?

Easy to determine the range to you.

Easy to reverence on map.

You dont need airburst rounds just aim at the trees...etc etc.

You go a few 100 m in front or behind a treeline. Never at a treeline. Ever!!!

German verse on that: An Rändern klebt Scheiße. ;-)

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Easy to determine the range to you.

Easy to reverence on map.

You dont need airburst rounds just aim at the trees...etc etc.

You go a few 100 m in front or behind a treeline. Never at a treeline. Ever!!!

German verse on that: An Rändern klebt Scheiße. ;-)

so your saying to position in front of a tree line a few hundred mtrs in the brush or such.

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You stand out more on the edge of a forest. If you move 10-20meter into the forest you use the shadows a bit more to get natural concealment.

This of course has to be judged against how thick the undergrowth is, you might not be able to see out of the forest if you are 20m in etc etc but the goal is to avoid the edges and stay a bit into the forest.

Edit: doesn't make much difference in SB right now, guess it will have more impact when we get more advanced shadowing etc in the future.

hmm,ok i guess ive been doing it wrong in SB,lol.i try your advice.:)

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so your saying to position in front of a tree line a few hundred mtrs in the brush or such.

Well you gain the backdrop/concealment of the treeline without actually being in it. Of course there are downsides to it (exposed to the air, etc.) but for the purpose of gaining the concealment offered by the tress as a back drop you can still achieve that by coming forward just enough to not be "in" the treeline.

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