TechUkrainian M1A1SA Abrams tank falls to Russian Kornet missile ambush

Ukrainian M1A1SA Abrams tank falls to Russian Kornet missile ambush

Missile 9M133 Kornet just before hitting a Ukrainian Abrams.
Missile 9M133 Kornet just before hitting a Ukrainian Abrams.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | FUNKER530

3:22 PM EST, March 8, 2024

A third M1A1SA Abrams tank, belonging to the Ukrainian forces, was lost after failing to withstand a Russian ambush that utilized anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) 9M133 Kornet. Let's explore their capabilities.

Near Avdiivka, a crew operating a Russian ATGM 9M133 Kornet managed to destroy a Ukrainian M1A1SA Abrams tank. Employing such tactics is highly risky for the Ukrainians, yet it aims at minimizing machinery losses. Similar aggressive maneuvers have previously been seen, with even older T-72 tanks taking part, but more modern tanks like the Leopard 2 and Abrams have provided their crews with significantly better chances of survival in the event of being hit.

However, the presence of a single modern Western-designed tank in the region prompts the Russians to deploy substantial resources to counter it. In the footage linked below, the 9M133 Kornet crew is seen firing two missiles at the Abrams, which is also targeted by at least one artillery shell.

The M1A1SA Abrams, despite being put out of combat, served its purpose as evidenced by photographs of the tank with open hatches, indicating the crew likely survived and evacuated once the shelling ceased. This contrasts with the fate of crews in tanks such as the T-72, T-90, T-64, and T-80 series, where penetration of the armor often leads to a dramatic explosion of the ammunition magazine.

The 9M133 Kornet: Russia's Most Dangerous Anti-Tank Weapon

Deployed in the late '90s, the 9M133 Kornet stands as the Russian infantry's most formidable anti-tank weapon. Capable of striking targets as far as 3.4 to 5 miles away, depending on the version, its warhead can penetrate more than a yard of armored steel, even after breaching an initial layer of reactive armor. While it might be effective against the frontal armor of an Abrams, it can easily penetrate the sides, especially if reinforced with components of the TUSK package.

Guidance technology, which relies on a laser beam, presents both strengths and limitations. Though cost-effective and efficient, it faces challenges such as the risk of detection by tanks equipped with the right sensors, and the requirement for the operator to maintain guidance until impact. Since the missile travels at roughly 820 feet/s, it means that when targeting an Abrams about 2.5 miles away, the missile’s flight time is around 16 seconds, providing a brief window for counteraction.

The Russians have found ways to mitigate the risks to Kornet operators by adopting a strategy similar to Ukraine's Stugna-P system. This involves a remote control console connected to the launcher by a cable of several dozen feet, enhancing the safety of the operating crew.

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