U.S. angered as Iraq scores kills with advanced Russian-made anti-tank missile

by Geo-Strategy

April 2, 2003

Iraqi ground forces are using an advanced Russian anti-tank missile against advancing U.S. and British armored units.

U.S. officials said Iraqi Republican Guard units have been firing the AT-14 Kornet anti-tank guided missiles against U.S. M1A2 main battle tanks around the cities of Najaf and Nassiriya. So far the Kornet has knocked out two Abrams tanks and a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, they said.

tank units of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

Last week, President George Bush telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to complain about large amounts of Kornet and night-vision equipment supplied to Iraq over the last few months. Iraq is believed to have up to 1,000 Kornet missiles, imported via Syria. Putin has denied that Moscow has approved military exports to Iraq.

The Kornet is regarded as one of the most lethal anti-tank missiles deployed in the Arab world. The missile has a range of 5.5 kilometers and is guided by laser-optic sight. A crew of two soldiers can quickly set up the missile on a tripod, direct a laser beam on the target and launch the missile.

The Kornet's range is greater than that of its Western-origin competitors. The M1A2 tank has an effective range of 4 kilometers.

Russia has also sold the Kornet-E, or export version, to Iraq's neighbors, including Iran and Syria.

The Kornet was developed by the KBP Instrument Design-Making Bureau in Tula. The AT-14 Kornet contains a shaped charge that can penetrate more than a meter of armor and foil reactive armored systems.

The Kornet can also carry thermobaric explosives. These incendiary munitions release a fine spray of fuel before detonation, creating a fireball. Thermobaric explosives are designed to target infantry as well as light- or non-armored vehicles, such as trucks.