Modern main battle tanks are usually hunted down with man-portable anti-tank missiles rather than other heavy combat machines. The 9M133 Kornet is one of the most advanced Russian man-portable anti-tank missiles. It’s been widely exported to foreign users, but Ukraine got its Kornet directly from a battlefield.
The 9M133 Kornet (called AT-14 Spriggan by NATO) is a large, but man-portable anti-tank weapon, developed in 1988-1994. It entered service in 1998, but didn’t replace older missiles, because it is actually quite expensive.
Russia managed to reduce the cost of the Kornet by exporting this system to many different foreign buyers, including Greece, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Peru, Saudi Arabia and many others. Ukraine is now also mentioned as an operator of the 9M133 Kornet system – at least one such weapon with ammunition was captured during the ongoing invasion of Russia.
It’s been confirmed that Russia is using 9M133 Kornets against Ukrainian armor during the invasion of 2022. In fact, the invasion started on February 24 and the first confirmation of Kornet being used came just two days later. In October Ukraine was included in the list of the operators of the 9M133 Kornet system.
Ukrainian marines captured an intact 9M133 Kornet system in early October. This was achieved during Ukrainian advancements in the south of the country. Armed forces of Ukraine launched a successful counteroffensive and regained ground, in some points overrunning the occupying Russian forces. To put it simply, Russians left a 9M133 Kornet system and ran to avoid a complete crush of advancing Ukrainian soldiers. It is not known whether Ukrainian already put their Kornet to use against Russian armor.
One of the reasons why this Kornet and its missiles were left could be its weight and dimensions. It is a man-portable system, which breaks down for transport, but it still weighs 63.7 kilograms. Usually, two troops share this weight, because the tripod is kind of unhandy to carry.
Kornet systems are mounted on different vehicles for mobility reasons – in those cases, several launch tubes can be combined to achieve better accuracy and strike power.
Other than the difficulty of moving it without a machine of some sort, the 9M133 Kornet is a highly capable system. Regular Kornet has an operational range of 100 – 5,500 meters, but an improved Kornet-EM can destroy tanks 8 kilometers away.
Russia has been the biggest sponsor of Ukraine in terms of military equipment. Obviously, this was not by design – Russia is simply losing a lot of weapons that are then captured by the Ukrainian forces. It’s a morbid joke, but those trophy weapons are going to be key in liberating all of the Ukrainian lands.