INDIALATEST DEFENCE NEWS

MYSTERY MISSILE OF INDIA – KORNET E

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) in it arms trade register documents a 2003 deal for the supply of 250 launchers and 3,000 Kornet-E missiles. This has been affirmed by the writing of Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retd) where he mentioned induction of these missiles. It is generally believed that these missiles were imported after a lesson learnt in the employment of ATGMs in Kargil war. A missile like Kornet with heavy cum specialized warhead (thermobaric) will be able to take out the kind of fortified structures encountered during Kargil War.

Considering the relatively small number of launchers and missiles ordered, it is very likely that these were for specialized units like dedicated ATGM battalions (which existed earlier). But as explained in the next section, ATGM units themselves have converted to tracked and wheeled Recce & Support (R&S) role.

It is not clear at present which arm – infantry or mechanized infantry – employs this potent missile.

⏩ MISSILE DETAILS

9M113 Kornet (NATO reporting name: AT-14 ‘Spriggan’) is a heavy laser-beam riding ATGM which is meant to destroy the most well-armored tanks. It was developed as a successor to AT-4/AT-5 family of missiles with the objective of taking on the heavy western main battle tanks. But given the prize of the missile and state of Russian economy post 1991, a one-on-one replacement was ruled out.

The missile has achieved fame, or notoriety, depending on who you speak to, for knocking out leading main battle tanks like US Abrams and Israeli Merkava. One of the main reasons ascribed to Hezbollah knocking out 40+ Israeli tanks during 2006 Lebanon invasion was use of Kornet-E missile.

The missile system consists of 9P163-1 portable launcher with 1P45-1 Sight Tracker, mechanical drives to steer the missile and 1PN79-1 Thermal Imager. The Kornet Missile comes in two configurations – 9M133-1 (anti-tank-HEAT-tandem warhead) and 9M133F-1 (thermobaric warhead for bunkers/fortified positions).

The missile weighs 29 kg with tube and the whole launcher with missile weights in excess of 50 Kg. The 1PN79-1 Thermal Imager itself weights more than 11 kg. Kornet-E is not exactly a man-portable system – it can be carried short-distance by a 2-man crew but needs a vehicle for longer range movement.

It represents a very potent missile against any armor on India’s eastern or western border.

⏩ VARIANTS

Kornet-EM, Upgraded Kornet ATGM with laser beam riding guidance system and a range of 8 or 10 km. There are two different missiles. A standard anti-tank missile with tandem HEAT warhead has a range of 8 km. It penetrates 1 100 – 1 300 mm behind ERA. The second missile has a thermobaric warhead and a range of 10 km.

Kornet-D, anti-tank missile carrier with long-range Kornet-EM ATGM’s. It is based on Tigr 4×4 utility vehicle carrying 8 Kornet EM’s on two separate launchers. This missile is also used on the new unmanned turrets of the Armata heavy IFV, Kurganets-25 IFV and Boomerang APC.

Kornet-T, An ATGM carrier based on the chassis of the BMP-3. The Kornet-T is armed with twin missile launchers.

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