Armor: March 26, 2003

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The US has accused Russia of selling Iraq modern anti-tank guided missiles. This would be the Kornet E, a laser guided missile with a range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in fog. The missile's warhead can penetrate 1200 mm of armor, which means that the front and side armor of the U.S. M-1 Abrams tank would be vulnerable. The missile weighs 18 pounds and the launcher 42 pounds. The system was introduced in 1994 and has been sold to India and Syria (who may have slipped a few to Iraq). The missile also has a thermobaric (fuel air explosive) warhead available. This would be used to attack targets inside bunkers, buildings or caves. When a thermobaric warhead explodes, the mist of flammable gas creates a huge explosion that spreads to adjacent areas (rooms, caves) and kills with shock, fire and by sucking out all the oxygen. It's doubtful that Iraq has any of these warheads, as they would not have any use for them. The Russians have been slow to develop "top attack" warheads, which have been available in the west for two decades. Such warheads detonate when the missile is over the target and punch through the thin top armor. Such missiles would be deadly against U.S. M-1 tanks.

 


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