Various sources mentions rather briefly that the mujaheddin used MILAN ATGMs against the Soviets.

Who supplied these exactly? Were they e.g. from French or UK stocks? And were the US intermediaries for these deliveries, or just the Pakistani and/or Saudis?

Sources consulted:

MILAN missile systems were among the numerous weapons sent to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s by the United States to combat Soviet troops.[9] Wikipedia:Afghanistan

Questionable it was this simple as the MILAN is not made in the US nor acquired by the US Army. Cited source "[9]" is dead link and besides it's a "Small Arms Problem in Central Asia" publication, which I suspect isn't a detailed history anyhow. I've actually managed to locate the publication cited. It says:

The flow of small arms to Afghanistan did not end after the Soviet forces withdrew from the country in February 1989. Just before the withdrawal, the United States increased its arms supplies to Afghanistan to ensure that the Soviet decision to leave would hold. The United States provided the mujaheddin, for example, with Stingers and Milan anti-tank missiles, and continued to support the Afghan guerrillas in their fight against the pro-Soviet Kabul regime headed by President Muhammad Najibullah.

gives as 160 the number of Milan launchers passed to the mujaheddin. The book cited in support (Isby D.C., War in a distant country, Afghanistan : invasion and resistance) isn't more detailed than that. It contains a brief inventory of mujaheddin arsenal, but not how they got them. The book page number cited on Wikipedia is totally off, gives 42, but should be 112, where the book just says

By early 1988, there were reports that the Resistance had received 160 European-designed Milan anti-tank guided missile-launchers, along with training for gunners. These proved effective in action throughout 1988.

And that's all the coverage given to this issue. If the quantity stated in that book is correct, it's a pretty sizable number, comparable e.g. to the official stockpiles of such missiles of some smaller countries (using Wikipedia numbers again).

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    @KillingTime: yeah, but that's pretty vague as the US doesn't manufacture these, nor do they normally buy them. Mar 13, 2022 at 19:49
  • Looking at the distribution of MILAN in the world, it seems pretty simple for the US or the Pakistani to get some Mar 13, 2022 at 19:57
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    @Fizz the US purchased over the years many foreign weapons systems and vehicles, both for its own use and for distribution to client states and organisations. Milan was portable, easy to use, and available whereas no comparable US built system existed at the time (there was a major gap between the LAW and the TOW in the US arsenal).
    – jwenting
    Sep 23, 2022 at 4:55
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    @totalMongot TOW is a heavy system that requires extensive training to use effectively. Milan you can transport several on a horse, TOW you need a truck or several horses for a single one.
    – jwenting
    Sep 23, 2022 at 4:57

1 Answer 1


The SIPRI Yearbook for 1989 (page 244) lists 140 MILANs as delivered in 1988; they are in the table as from France but it explicitly notes "supplier country uncertain".

(It is unclear if it means missiles or launchers - the entries for some other countries give the number of missiles in this column, and the number of launchers as a comment.)

There are no deliveries mentioned in the 1990-93 Yearbooks, or 1980-88; that batch seems to be the only one that was publicly discussed at the time. Interestingly - while it says nothing about MILAN - the 1987 one mentions British Blowpipe SAMs as being "paid for by the USA and supplied via Nigeria", which gives a hint as to the complicated route some weapons may have taken.

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