Monday, August 8, 2011

Kornet-EM New Capabilities of Antitank Guided Missile Systems

Antitank guided missile systems (ATGM) have been developed and produced globally for already half a century. Since then they became the most popular and wanted type of high precision weapons (HPW) thanks to their usability and relatively low cost. For example, there have been produced around seven hundred thousand TOW antitank missiles whose latest modifications are still being produced.

However from terminological point of view “ATGM system” does no more reflect all the requirements this type of weapon system has to meet. Originally designed to engage tanks, today ATGM systems are efficiently used to engage a wide range of other small dimension targets like lightly armoured and soft-skinned vehicles, various fortifications, manpower and elements of enemy’s infrastructure.

Analysis of the recent conflicts reveals a vital need for further expansion of these weapon systems applications. Higher fighting dynamics, mobility and independence of tactical formations as well as increased rate of operations in urban environment made high mobility and versatility ATGM systems become one of the main means of army units fire support both in defensive and offensive operations. Hence, for the combat capabilities of future ATGM systems to be expanded, the requirements to their effective range all through the depth of enemy’s military formations, conditions of use and target engagement rate – all have to be increased.

A future ATGM system must be a versatile defensive-offensive guided weapon, whose portable and combat vehicle transportable modifications ensure a wide range of applications in close range tactical zone in various combat environments.

The majority of the countries in the world today are armed with IInd generation portable and transportable-portable systems with semiautomatic guidance by wire line, like TOW (USA), Milan (Germany, France and Great Britain) and Konkurs (Russia) antitank guided weapon systems.

All the above-mentioned systems have two significant disadvantages:

  • the use of a wire-line, which makes it impossible to fire on the move and imposes limitations on the missile flight speed and the system’s firing rate;
  • vulnerability to jamming.

Hence, this type of weapons was sought to be improved already since 1980’s.

The IIIrd generation Kornet-E system developed by KBP and adopted in 1998 features a laser beam riding guidance system. It was the first ATGM system completely jamming proof and capable of firing on the move. As of today the Kornet-E ATGM system with a firing range of 5500 m is the most state-of-the-art specimen of multipurpose tactical short range weapon system which uses missiles with tandem shaped charge warheads for engagement of primarily heavily protected targets (tanks, pillboxes and the like) and missiles with high explosive warheads for engagement of a wide range of targets posing threat on a battlefield.

The main trend in foreign ATGM systems evolution consists in development of IIIrd generation systems with “fire-and-forget” principle implemented by the use of missile autonomous homing. Two systems of the kind were put into service until now: portable Javelin ATGM system (USA) with IR seeker and Spike-MR system (Israel) with combined TV/IR seeker.

The main advantages of the systems with autonomous homing as declared are:

  • “fire-and-forget” principle which allows to increase crew survivability by giving an opportunity to leave firing position after a launch (salvo);
  • capability to hit targets’ most vulnerable top projection.

However the engineering solutions implemented in such systems define both their advantages and disadvantages, i.e. their technical and economic characteristics are sacrificed for the fire-and-forget principle:

  • seeker performance in terms of target acquisition imposes limitations on the firing range; by now it does not exceed 2.5 km;
  • reliable operation of a passive seeker requires higher contrast and optical resolution than those required for “operator-guidance unit” systems. This however does not guarantee engagement and destruction of all targets detected by operator and results in deterioration of the system’s versatility;
  • there is high probability of homing failure both in case of jamming and in case of “normal” acquisition of target by the seeker.

The main disadvantage of guided missiles with seeker is their high cost which is 3 and more times higher than that of the missiles with semiautomatic guidance systems. Hence, even many prosperous countries can not afford adopting such systems, so they use limited quantity thereof in combination with previous generation ATGM systems.

The Kornet-EM multipurpose guided missile system offered by KBP makes it possible to meet contemporary requirements to future ATGM systems by using advanced and at the same time relatively inexpensive engineering solutions giving Kornet-EM system a series of new qualities.

Kornet-EM system


Main Performance Specifications of the System

Firing range, m
     - minimum
     - maximum

Guidance system automatic, beam riding guidance
Jamming immunity high
Number of targets engaged simultaneously by a salvo
Armour penetration by shaped charge warhead, mm 1100-1300
TNT equivalent of high explosive warhead 7
Ammunition load, pcs
    - including ready-to-fire missiles
Change-over from traveling to combat, seconds 7


The use of technical vision with automatic target tracker makes it possible to exclude an operator from missile guidance process and in fact implements the “fire-and-forget” principle. This gives a 5-times increase in accuracy of target tracking during real combat use and high hit probability at any system operating range which is twice higher than that of the Kornet-E ATGM system.

Engagement of targets in automatic mode reduces psychophysical stress to operators, requirements to their skills and duration of their training.

The block-modular principle of system design traditionally used for the Kornet family makes it possible to install both one and two automatic launchers onto a wide range of relatively inexpensive low load bearing capacity platforms of various origin (0.8-1.0 tons for single launcher version and 1.2-1.5 tons for double launcher version). It also makes it possible to use its stand-alone (tripod) version which can be controlled remotely.

Kornet-EM system in combat and traveling configurations


The combat vehicle with two launchers ensures simultaneous salvo firing against two targets, this significantly increasing the system’s firing rate and number of targets handled and at the same time allowing to twice reduce number of combat vehicles required to complete a combat mission. Similar to Kornet-E system the Kornet-EM system retains salvo firing capability with two missiles in one beam against one target to get over active protection systems.

The system’s firing range was almost doubled – up to 10 km. Increase of the firing range is one of the disputable questions today. Many military specialists opine that features of terrain and shielding by landscape in most areas suitable for combat operations ensure direct visibility at ranges of 3-4 km maximum. Therefore, increase of firing range above these limits seems to be unreasonable for the systems firing directly against visual targets. However analysis of armed conflicts of the recent decades reveals that targets located on commanding eminences in deserted plain areas, in wide valleys between mountains and at foothills can be seen as ranges of more than 10-15 km. Making use of terrain advantages by occupying positions with maximum observation sectors and ranges is one of the main conditions of a successful combat operation. Thus, in such areas there can always appear a situation when targets can be detected and fired at longer ranges (more than 5-6 km). Therefore, KBP opines that weapon systems including ATGM systems must ensure firing at maximum distances to effect significant damage to the enemy before their forces are involved in direct fight or to organize ambush without subsequent engagement in a fight. At the same time other system characteristics like accuracy, lethality, weight and size should not deteriorate as well. This requirement is met by the Kornet-EM system. Thanks to improvement of guidance system, design of missile motors and the use of automatic target tracker firing range of the system was increased up to 8 km (ATGM with HEAT warhead) – 10 km (GM with HE warhead). At the same time accuracy of Kornet-EM system fired at 10 km became higher than that of Kornet-E system fired at 5 km. The dimensions and mating specifications of the new missiles are the same as those of Kornet-E, this ensuring their compatibility with previously designed launchers and maintaining of their operational characteristics.

Increase of firing range and accuracy and use of automatic target tracker make it possible to track both slow ground targets and faster targets. This helps the Kornet-EM system meet requirements essentially new for antitank guided weapon systems – engagement of small size aerial targets (UAV, helicopters and attacking airplanes). Current and envisaged dramatic proliferation of reconnaissance and reconnaissance-attack unmanned aerial vehicles alongside with the role of army reconnaissance and attack helicopters which has drastically grown, became an important factor that gave impetus to search for improvement of combat capabilities of antitank weapon systems (being the most numerous type of high precision weapons used in the land forces) in fighting low speed aircraft.

Attack helicopters are by now the most dangerous targets for land forces, as they can inflict maximum damage in minimum time. For example, a helicopter is able to destroy a company of armoured vehicles (10-14 armoured vehicles) with one ATGM load.

UAV on a reconnaissance mission lets enemy well in advance disclose defence, give accurate target designation for firing over-the-horizon munitions, register and transmit information on army relocations both during operations near the line of contact with enemy and in the rear. This results in significant increase in casualties and possible failures of combat mission performance.

The air defence assets assigned to land forces are not numerous and their capabilities in countering this kind of targets are limited. To efficiently counter attack helicopters and UAV air defence assets should be available right in combat formations, because attack or reconnaissance flights are performed at low altitudes, so it becomes impossible to detect them with medium and short range air defence systems which are usually stationed deep in the home front.

Kornet-EM is the system able to efficiently accomplish these tasks.

Efficient engagement of aerial targets with Kornet-EM system is ensured due to combination of high precision guidance system and guided missile with thermobaric warhead equipped with impact and proximity target sensor and a flight range of 10 km.

Vertical section of aerial targets missile engagement zone

The use of proximity target sensor guarantees reliable engagement of aerial targets at any range. Combined with high explosive warhead the target proximity sensor makes it possible to compensate possible misses by destruction of UAV (or helicopter) by overpressure, if miss does not exceed 3 m.

The maximum flight range of the missile being equal to 10 km ensures Kornet-EM system’s advantage in fighting helicopters as it enables the system to fire from a stand-off distance.

Therefore, if required the Kornet-EM ATGM system is able to perform some functions of a SHORAD system ensuring coverage of friendly forces formations from helicopter and UAV attacks. None of other systems are capable of the same.

Joint use of Kornet-EM ATGM system adapted for countering low speed aerial targets with standard air defence assets significantly improves total efficiency of land forces tactical units’ air defence.

From the above said we can conclude that today Kornet-EM ATGM system is the best tactical high precision weapon system for engagement of visible targets. This system is a versatile defensive-offensive system with totally jamming immune control system. The system makes it possible to efficiently counter ground and aerial targets under various conditions of combat use including adverse weather conditions or organized radio-electronic and optical jamming.


Versatility of Kornet-EM system combat use


The Kornet-EM system includes:

  • combat vehicle with two automatic launchers and operator’s panel with a display;
  • guided missile with HE warhead with impact and proximity sensors and an antitank guided missile with firing range of up to 10 km;
  • an antitank guided missile with a maximum firing range of 8000 m and shaped charge warhead armour penetration of 1100-1300 mm which enables the Kornet-EM system to engage contemporary and future tanks bearing in mind the tendency to growth of their armour protection.


The 9M133FM-3 guided missile
with high-explosive warhead.
Brief specifications

Flight range 150 – 10000
TNT equivalent, kg 7
Target sensor кimpact and proximity
Maximum flight speed, m/s 320
Weight with launch-tube, kg 33
Length of launch-tube, mm 1211



The 9М133М-2 ATGM and 9М133FM guided missile.
Brief specifications

Flight range 150 – 8000
Armour penetration, mm 1100 – 1300
Maximum flight speed, m/s 300
Weight with launch-tube, kg 31
Length of launch-tube, mm 1211


For engagement of ground targets like pillboxes, log-and-dirt fire emplacements, lightly armoured vehicles, enemy’s manpower including entrenched manpower, the missile can be fitted with a 10 kg TNT equivalent high explosive thermobaric warhead.

Automatic launcher with four ready-to-fire guided missiles thereon is fitted with TV+IR sight incorporating high resolution TV cameras and third generation thermal imager, built-in laser range-finder and laser missile guidance channel and an automatic target tracker with laying drives.




1. Guided missiles in launch-tubes; 2. TV/Thermal imaging sight; 3.Integrated guidance system with automatic target tracker; 4. Launcher guides with four guided missiles; 5. Post with elevation and traverse mechanisms; 6. Raising and lowering mechanism



Laying angles, deg
     - azimuth
     - elevation

Angular laying speed, deg/s up to 20
Number of ready-to-fire missiles 4
Thermal imager sight FOV, deg
    - TV wide
    - TV narrow
    - Range-finder observation channel
    - IR wide
    - IR narrow

Distance measuring range 200-15000
Tracking error, RMS error, mrad 0.3
Module weight, kg 67.5


Comparative analysis of the Kornet-EM system performance specifications with those of its foreign counterparts shows that in the aggregate the former 2.5-3.0 times exceeds the latter in terms of combat efficiency at the same time being simpler in use and maintenance and featuring 3-4 times cheaper ammunition which as an expendable component to great extent defines army operating costs.



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