The Kornet is among the most capable Russian ATGMs. It is not intended to fully replace previous systems, due to its high cost. The Kornet comes in variants with thermobaric warheads for use against soft targets. It was further developed into the 9M133 Kornet-EM, which has increased range, fire-and-forget capability, and an improved warhead.
The Kornet has been widely exported and is produced under license in several countries. It was first used combat in 2003 and has since been used in many conflicts.
The Kornet anti-tank missile was unveiled in October 1994 by the KBP Instrument Design Bureau. The missile started development in 1988 as a modular, universal system able to engage any target from a mix of platforms using a reliable laser beam guidance system that was simple to use. It is a heavy ATGM, superior to the earlier 9K111 Fagot (NATO: AT-4 Spigot) and 9K113 Konkurs (NATO: AT-5 Spandrel) wire-guided ATGMs, but not to replace them (due to the cost). The missile entered service in the Russian army in 1998. Its export designation is the Kornet-E. The 9P163M-1 Kornet-T tank destroyer entered service in 2012.
North Korea has developed a clone of the Kornet known as the Bulsae-3, which was first revealed on February 27, 2016 publicly during a demo test.
The 9M133F-1 Kornet variant with a thermobaric warhead was expected to enter serial production in 2019, according to a company report.
The 9M133 missile together with its 9P163-1 tripod launcher and 1PN79-1 thermal sight forms the 9K135 missile system, which can be carried and operated by a two-person infantry crew. The transfer to the firing position takes less than one minute, and preparation and production of a shot in at least one second. Kornet anti-tank missile system has been fitted with the 'top attack' capability.
A static Kornet missile and launcher
In addition to an infantry portable version, the 9K133 system has been integrated into a variety of other vehicles and weapons systems as either an upgrade package or a new weapon system. The 9K133 has been fitted into a BMP-3 to form the 9P163M-1 tank destroyer and is similar in function to the Khrizantema missile system. The 9P163M-1 carries two 9M133 missiles on launch rails, which are extended from a stowed position during transit. Missile are re-loaded automatically by the tank destroyer from an internal magazine with 16 rounds (missiles are stored and transported in sealed canisters).NBC protection is provided for the two crew (gunner and driver) of each 9P163M-1 in addition to full armour protection equivalent to the standard BMP-3 chassis. The guidance system of the 9P163M-1 allows two missiles to be fired at once, each operating on different guidance (laser) channels.
The KBP Instrument Design Bureau has also marketed the 9M133 missile as part of the Kvartet system for mounting on vehicles and boats; the system has four missiles on ready to launch rails along with associated guidance and sighting system all packaged in a single turret; the guidance system also allows two missiles to be fired at once. The turret has space for an additional five rounds and is operated by a single individual. Another upgrade possibility is the Kliver missile and gun turret, seen as an upgrade option for the BTR series of APC, BMP-1IFV and patrol boats. It has similar capabilities as the Kvartet turret, but also carries a 30 mm 2A72 cannon; turret weight is 1,500 kg. Finally the 9M133 is also available in the BEREZHOK turret upgrade also made available by KBP. Since 2014, its serial production has been resumed for the domestic market with the designation B05YA01.
Kornet-EM missiles on a Kornet-D launcher.
The 9M133 Kornet-EM is an improved variant introduced in 2012 that is designed to defeat vehicles with explosive reactive armor (ERA), is jamming resistant, and uses an automatic target tracker which essentially turns it into a "fire and forget" missile. The "fire and forget" capability allows a vehicle equipped with twin launchers to attack two different targets at once, increasing its rate of fire, decreases the number of vehicles needed for a mission, and can defeat vehicles equipped with an active protection system through salvo fire at one target. The system's use of an autotracker can make it effective against low-flying aerial threats like helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Kornet-EM is mainly used on the Kornet-D system. Iran also produces an indigenous system similar to the Kornet-D called the Pirooz, that uses a different launch vehicle and different electro-optical sight configuration.
The second verified episode of the Kornet ATGM in combat use occurred during the 2006 Lebanon War, where the missiles, reportedly supplied by Syria, were used by Hezbollah fighters to destroy up to four Israeli Merkava tanks. Kornets pierced the armor of 24 tanks in total. One of the first detailed accounts of IDF's successful capture of Kornet ATGMs on Hezbollah positions in the village of Ghandouriyeh appeared in the Daily Telegraph article, which also reported that the boxes were marked with "Customer: Ministry of Defense of Syria. Supplier: KBP, Tula, Russia". Several months after the cease-fire, reports have provided sufficient photographic evidence that Kornet ATGMs were indeed both in possession of, and used by, Hezbollah in this area.
Israel claims that Russian weapons were smuggled to Hezbollah by Syria, and Israel has sent a team of officials to Moscow to show Russia the evidence of what they say can only be Syrian weapons transfers. Despite initial public denials by the Russian officials that any proof of actual use of Kornet by Hezbollah has been presented, the Russian government in fact has moved to tighten control over the use of Russian-made weapons by the importing states, suggesting that the visit of the Israeli delegation did bear fruit, although it might have nothing to do with Kornet. On 6 December 2010, a Kornet launched from the Gaza strip penetrated the outer armour of a Merkava Mark III tank on the Israeli side of the border, but it caused no injuries.
On 7 April 2011 Hamas claimed responsibility for a missile strike on an Israeli yellow school bus which killed a 16-year-old boy, Daniel Viflic, and wounded another civilian (all the other children who were on the bus got out few minutes earlier). According to Israeli military spokesman, the bus was hit by a Kornet missile.
The 9K135 Kornet can be broken down and carried by two men.
In the summer of 2014 the armor of Iraqi Army M1A1 Abrams tanks were penetrated 5 times; Kornet missiles were responsible for at least some of these penetrations.
In September 2014, the Iraqi Army used Kornet missiles against Islamic State militants for the first time. Iraqi security forces claimed five IS-operated vehicles along with fighters were destroyed in Diyala Governorate. Three Iraqi Army squadrons have been trained to use the Kornet anti-tank missile.
In the January 2015 Shebaa farms incident, Hezbollah fired some Kornet anti-tank missiles against two Israeli Humvees. A soldier and an officer were killed. In 2015 Iran succeeded in reverse-engineering the Kornet. Iran arms Hezbollah and there is speculation Iranian Kornets were used against Israel in a border attack on the 29th Jan 2015.
Russia has sent over 1,000 Kornet-9M133 third-generation anti-tank guided missiles to the Syrian Government who have used them extensively against armour and ground targets to fight Jihadists and rebels. In 2016, a Syrian Army Solntsepyok TOS-1 was destroyed by a Kornet missile from unknown Syrian opposition forces.
In October 2016, the ISIL-linked Amaq news agency released a video that depicts a destruction of a U.S.-made Abrams M1 main battle tank near Mosul, Iraq. The battle tank was reportedly blown up with the Kornet ATGM. The event took place at the Qarayyah crossroad, south of Mosul.
Iran has supplied their license-built Kornet missiles, under their name Dehalivieh, to at least one Iraqi non-state actor. In addition, Kornet missiles were widely used in the Iraqi Civil War by the Iraqi government and the Popular Mobilization Units.
In January 2017, the German newspaper Die Welt reported that ISIL fighters used Kornets to destroy 6 Leopard 2 tanks used by the Turkish military in Syria. An ISIL propaganda video released in March 2017 showed ISIL fighters capturing two Kornets being transported in Syria, which show the manufacturing year of 2016.
On September 1, 2019, a Kornet was used by Hezbollah forces to fire on Israeli military stations in retaliation for the bombings of a Hezbollah media office a week earlier. Israel responded with artillery barrages on Lebanese villages close to the border, specifically Aitaroun and Maroun al-Ras, which set fire to a number of civilian crop fields.
North Korea - Unknown, reversed engineered Kornet-E under designation of Bulsae-3
Pakistan - 52 Kornet-E ATGWs ordered in 2017-2018 and likely to have included hundreds of missiles.
Peru - 288 missiles and 24 launchers plus training simulators and technical support. The contract (worth US$24 million) was signed in 2008. All missiles delivered in January 2010. As of June 2013, it is currently negotiating the purchase of additional units.