Russia's Kornet anti-tank complex was used in Palestine on December 6 against Israeli military hardware on December 6. Israeli officials acknowledged the loss of one Merkava-3 tank. The announcement was made by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi during the meeting of the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs and defense. The high-ranking official stated that the tank had been destroyed by one of the most dangerous missiles in the region.
The missile, Ashkenazi said, destroyed the tank, which was patrolling the electronic enclosure along the border with the Gaza Strip. The missile only drilled a hole in the tank, but did not explode for some reason. The tank crew were not injured.
The Kornet (AT-14) is a fifth-generation anti-tank system, designed to destroy state-of-the-art armored vehicles, including those equipped with dynamic defense. The systems can also destroy troops, surface targets and even low-speed aircraft at any time of the day and night and under most complicated meteorological conditions. The Kornet, as military experts acknowledge, is resistant to passive and active optical jamming.
The system has a number of other advantages, which make it a very effective weapon. It is generally believed that the Kornet was used in combat for the first time during the Second Lebanese War in 2006, when Hezbollah caused considerable damage to the Israeli army. Israel lost 46 tanks in the conflict: three of them were destroyed. Hezbollah officials said, though, that they had hit 164 tanks, including state-of-the-art Merkava-4 tanks.
Hezbollah's possession of Kornet systems became an extremely unpleasant surprise for Israel. The systems were supposedly delivered to Hezbollah from Syria. In addition to Syria, Russia delivered Kornets to Algeria, Lebanon, Morocco, Peru, Turkey and Eritrea.
The defense cooperation between Russia and Syria has always triggered very negative reactions in Israel. The Israeli administration was furious after the nation's military captured several Kornet systems in the summer of 2006. Russia's defense cooperation with Syria could have pushed Tel Aviv towards supplying arms (drones, artillery systems, etc) to Georgia.
How the Kornets are going to affect the relations between Russia and Israel? Pravda.Ru asked expert opinion from Israeli scientist of politics Avigdor Eskin.
"I don't think that the relations will aggravate. The appearance of Kornet systems in Palestine was not conducted with the approval from the Russian administration. This could be a tough accusation, and one would have to prove it thoroughly first.
"How did the Kornets appear in Palestine? I am not certain whether they came from Syria. Taking into consideration the current aggravation of the relations between Israel and Turkey, one could assume that it was Turkey that delivered the systems to Hamas.
"Afterwards, the Israeli military started to develop operations against Palestinian terrorists taking account of the possible use of Kornet systems. For example, prior to Operation Case Lead, the command of the Israeli army stated that the situation may repeat again, and the troops were recommended not to ram their way through the hedge. The Kornets were not used back then, but now it is clear that the Palestinians have those weapons," the expert said.
How will Israel respond to the challenge? The 9th tank battalion of the 401st brigade will be deployed near the Gaza Strip border already in January 2011. This unit is the first one that is outfitted with Meil Ruah active anti-missile defense system, developed by RAFAEL. The developers say that the system will minimize the threat from the use of Russian anti-tank systems.