Real War of Tanks: Russia’s Kornet missile has now cracked all major Western Bloc tanks

11:21 12.09.2023 •

Kornet Missile and Destroyed Challenger 2 Tank

Russia’s Kornet missile has now cracked all major Western Bloc tanks: Challenger 2 kill follows Abrams, Leopard 2 and Merkava IV, “Military Watch Magazine” writes.

Following confirmation on September 5 that Russian forces had destroyed a British Challenger 2 tank in Ukraine, Russian sources have widely reported that the Kornet anti tank missile was responsible for the kill. The release of a video of the strike captured by a drone showed the tank being hit by a guided projectile, with the speed of the projectile undermining prior British claims that a Russian Lancet drone had been responsible.

This marks a major victory for the system, which is deployed primarily as a handheld platform but also at times mounted on light vehicles. The Kornet is a light 28kg handheld missile system which has been in service since 1998, and has gained kills against more modern tank classes than any other system of its kind.

Kornets were first used in combat during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, with Iraqi Republican Guard units thought to have obtained the missile systems through black market deals and in defiance of UN Security Council imposed arms embargoes. The missiles proved highly effective against American Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. Kornets were used again three years later against Israeli Merkava tanks, including the enhanced Merkava IV variant, when deployed by Hezbollah in 2006, piercing the armour of at least two dozen tanks.  

While little is known regarding the missile system’s use in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin in June praised its performance stating that there was a need for production of greater quantities. He at the time hailed Russian forces’ successes destroying large quantities of Ukrainian armour. Adding the Challenger 2 to the Leopard 2, the M1 Abrams and the Merkava IV, the Kornet has proven itself a highly capable missile.

Destroyed Ukrainian Challenger 2 Tank

After being hit the Ukrainian Challenger 2 was seen emitting a large plume of smoke which appeared to trigger a fire onboard, with the tank’s lack of blowout panels contributing to an internal explosion which destroyed the turret. With the Challenger 2 being among the most heavily armoured tanks in the Western world, and having been taken directly from British Army stockpiles meaning they did not have downgraded armour as American-supplied Abrams tanks will, the ability of the Kornet to neutralise the vehicles so completely is expected to be cause for significant concern among NATO member states.

One of 14 tanks Britain sent to Ukraine has been destroyed in a battle with Russian forces. The smouldering wreck was filmed near Robotyne, a war-torn village in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

It’s the first time a Challenger 2 tank has ever been lost in combat since Britain began building the vehicles in the late 1980s, confesses UK “Declassifie”.

Ukraine believes the tanks, each worth £5m, could be of decisive advantage due to their armour-piercing rounds made from depleted uranium (DU).

Rishi Sunak’s decision to supply the ammunition earlier this year caused international outcry as DU is an ultra-dense metal made from nuclear waste.

Although its radioactivity is low, it can cause cancer and birth defects when exposed to humans in certain circumstances.

British courts have found in favour of at least two Gulf War veterans who suffered ill health from contact with DU.

A tribunal in Edinburgh upheld a war pension appeal by Kenny Duncan. His three children were born with deformities after he had helped salvage tanks destroyed by DU shells.

And an inquest in the Midlands found it was “more likely than not” that exposure to DU caused cancers which killed Stuart Dyson, an ex-soldier who cleaned British tanks in Iraq.

UK military safety studies from 1986-88, found by Declassified, show that an accident in which DU rounds caught fire was regarded as “the most serious hazard”.

Britain sent Ukraine “thousands of rounds of Challenger 2 ammunition including depleted uranium armour-piercing rounds”, armed forces minister James Heappey has told parliament.

While the UK was the first to supply Ukraine with depleted uranium, the US has since announced the ammunition will be available with Abrams tanks it is sending to Kyiv.

Weapons containing DU have previously been fired by UK and US forces in conflicts such as Iraq, Syria and the former Yugoslavia.

An investigation by Declassified this summer in Kosovo found that civilians living near areas where DU was fired reported high levels of rare cancers.


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