Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Anti-Tank Missiles

(The Russian-made, Syrian-supplied Kornet missile)

By Andrew McGregor
As the world waits to see if the UN-brokered ceasefire in Lebanon holds, the Israeli army will begin assessing its disappointing performance against Hezbollah guerrillas. Among the many aspects to be investigated is the vulnerability of Israel's powerful armored corps to small, hand-held, wire-guided anti-tank weapons. Indeed, Hezbollah's innovative use of anti-tank missiles was the cause of most Israeli casualties and has given the small but powerful weapons a new importance in battlefield tactics.
In a recent statement, Hezbollah's armed wing, al-Moqawama al-Islamia (Islamic Resistance), described Israel's main battle-tank as "a toy for the rockets of the resistance" (al-Manar TV, August 11). Hezbollah's anti-tank weapons consist of a variety of wire-guided missiles (usually of Russian design and manufactured and/or supplied by Iran and Syria) and rocket-propelled grenade launchers (RPGs). The missiles include the European-made Milan, the Russian-designed Metis-M, Sagger AT-3, Spigot AT-4 and the Russian-made Kornet AT-14. The latter is a Syrian supplied missile capable of targeting low-flying helicopters. Iraqi Fedayeen irregulars used the Kornet against U.S. forces in 2003. The most portable versions of these weapons are carried in a fiberglass case with a launching rail attached to the lid.
On July 30, the Israeli army published photos of various anti-tank missiles they claim to have found in a Hezbollah bunker (see: http://www.hnn.co.il/index.php?modul...sk=view;id=967). The weapons include Saggers and TOW missiles. The TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) missile is a formidable weapon first produced by the United States in the 1970s. These missiles were of interest as their packing crates were marked 2001, suggesting that these were relatively new additions to Hezbollah's arsenal and not part of the shipment of TOW missiles from Israel to Iran that was part of the Iran-Contra scandal of 1986 (the shelf-life of the TOW is roughly 20 years).
On August 6, Israeli Major-General Benny Gantz showed film of BGM-71 TOW and Sagger AT-3 missiles he reported were captured at one of Hezbollah's field headquarters (Haaretz, August 6). The primary target of Hezbollah's battlefield missiles is the Israeli-made Merkava tank. The Merkava was designed for the maximum protection of its crews, with heavy armor and a rear escape hatch. The emphasis on crew survival is not simply a humanitarian gesture; the small country of Israel cannot provide an endless number of trained, combat-ready tank crews if casualties begin to mount. The tank is also designed to be easily and quickly repaired, a specialty of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The modular armor plating can be easily replaced if damaged, or replaced entirely with upgraded materials when available.
The first generation of Merkavas was built in the 1970s and was soon deployed in Lebanon in 1982. The much-improved Merkava Mk 4 has been Israel's main battle-tank since its introduction in 2004. Current battlefield reports suggest that Hezbollah fighters are well-trained in aiming at the Merkava's most vulnerable points, resulting in as many as one-quarter of their missiles successfully piercing the armor (Yediot Aharonot, August 10). Hezbollah attacks on Merkava tanks during the November 2005 raid on the border town of Ghajar were videotaped and closely examined to find points where the armor was susceptible to missile attack. While some of their missiles have impressive ranges (up to three kilometers), the guerrillas prefer to fire from close range to maximize their chances of hitting weak points on the Merkava. Operating in two- or three-man teams, the insurgents typically try to gain the high ground in the hilly terrain before selecting targets, using well-concealed missile stockpiles that allow them to operate behind Israeli lines (Jerusalem Post, August 3).
Without artillery, Hezbollah has adapted its use of anti-tank missiles for mobile fire support against Israeli troops taking cover in buildings. There are numerous reports of such use, the most devastating being on August 9, when an anti-tank missile collapsed an entire building, claiming the lives of nine Israeli reservists (Y-net, August 10). Four soldiers from Israel's Egoz (an elite reconnaissance unit) were killed in a Bint Jbail house when it was struck by a Sagger missile (Haaretz, August 6). TOW missiles were used effectively in 2000 against IDF outposts in south Lebanon before the Israeli withdrawal. There are also recent instances of anti-tank weapons being used against Israeli infantry in the field, a costly means of warfare but one that meets two important Hezbollah criteria: the creation of Israeli casualties and the preservation of highly-outnumbered Hezbollah guerrillas who can fire the weapons from a relatively safe distance.
It was suggested that the IDF helicopter brought down by Hezbollah fire on August 12 was hit by an anti-tank missile. Hezbollah claimed to have used a new missile called the Wa'ad (Promise), although the organization occasionally renames existing missiles (Jerusalem Post, August 12). At least one of Israel's ubiquitous armored bulldozers has also fallen prey to Hezbollah's missiles. The Syrian-made RPG-29 was previously used with some success against Israeli tanks in Gaza. Hezbollah also uses this weapon, with a dual-warhead that allows it to penetrate armor. On August 6, the Israeli press reported that IDF intelligence sources claimed that an improved Russian-made version of the RPG-29 was being sold to Syria before transfer to the Islamic Resistance (Haaretz, August 6). In response, Russia's Foreign Ministry denied any involvement in supplying anti-tank weapons to Hezbollah (RIA Novosti, August 10).
The IDF reports that anti-tank missiles and rockets continue to cross the border into Lebanon from Syria, despite the destruction of roads and bridges in the area (Haaretz, August 13).The Merkava tank has assumed an important role as a symbol of Israeli military might. Their destruction in combat has an important symbolic value for Hezbollah. Hezbollah's tactical innovations and reliance on anti-tank missiles over more traditional infantry weapons will undoubtedly prompt serious introspection on the part of the IDF in anticipation of renewed conflict along the border.

5 Comments:

Blogger Bryansaid said...

9/11/2001 We shall never forget and always honor those who died that day..........

During the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the people of the United States took part in silent reflection and fresh mourning. The day was marked with quiet observances at the three attack sites. After attending tributes at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and crash site of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.
Solemn tributes and memorials were held in cities and towns across the nation.

"If I could build a staircase to heaven, I would, just so I could quickly run up there to have you back in my arms," Carmen Suarez, widow of city police officer Ramon Suarez, said at the Ground Zero podium while reading names of the 2,749 people who died there five years ago
On the 16-acre New York City expanse where the World Trade Center towers once stood, four moments of silence were held at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m., the times when jetliners struck each of the twin towers, and when each tower fell.

Some spouses and partners of Trade Center victims who read off names included brief personal tributes to their own loved ones.

"Honey, I want you to have a happy grandparents' day in heaven," said Elaine Moccia, addressing her late husband, Frank Moccia Sr, as she released a balloon gently into the sky where the towers once rose 110 stories above the New York skyline
Families of the victims began arriving before 7 a.m., many clutching pictures of their loved ones, descended the ramp into what's known as "the pit" to roam the area and lay flowers. Some wore pins bearing pictures of the victims. The mournful sound of bagpipes, so familiar from the seemingly endless funerals that followed Sept. 11, echoed across ground zero after a choir performed the national anthem.

"We've come back to remember the valor of those we've lost, those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them," former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said in a ceremony at Ground Zero
Family members at Ground Zero held up signs reading "You will always be with us" and "Never forget," and quiet sobs could be heard as the moments of silence were observed. Some victims' relatives crossed themselves and wiped away tears.

"Five years have come, and five years have gone, and still we stand together as one," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us."

A youth choir sang "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and religious leaders of several faiths offered words of comfort.

"I think it's important that people remember as years go on," said Diana Kellie, of Acaconda, Mont., whose niece and niece's fiance were killed on one of the planes. "The dead are really not dead until they're forgotten
Firefighter Tommy King and others stood beside a fire truck with a windshield emblazoned with the names of two comrades who died on Sept. 11.

"It's just weird being back here," King said outside the World Financial Center, where he hasn't been for five years. "This building here was a morgue."
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynn, attended a service of prayer and remembrance in Washington Monday morning. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joined them. Cheney then joined Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld choked up during his brief remarks at that event.

"I remember working our way through that long tragic day," he said, pausing in between sentences, noting that family and friends of those lost wore double American flag lapel patches. "Know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers," he added.

Cheney said, "September 11 ceased to be an ordinary day in America."

"We honor the men, women and children whose lives were taken suddenly and so coldly here at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and on a field in Pennsylvania," the vice president continued. "We remember all that we saw and heard and felt on that Tuesday morning and how the world changed on the eleventh of September, 2001. Nine-eleven is a day of national unity that stays with all of us … we were meant to take it personally and we still do take it personally."

Camp Blanding, Fla., remembered Florida soldiers killed in action since Sept. 11. Firefighters and law enforcement officers were to be honored at Idaho's Statehouse. And in Muncie, Ind., a service was set at a funeral home that features a Sept. 11 garden with twin glass towers that light up at night.

In Chicago, people filled churches to pray and remember the victims. In Virginia Beach, Va., firefighters and residents formed a human flag. Firefighters in Akron, Ohio, displayed 3,000 American flags on a 10-acre spiritual center.

1:56 AM  
Blogger Bryansaid said...

9/11/2001 We shall never forget and always honor those who died that day..........

During the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the people of the United States took part in silent reflection and fresh mourning. The day was marked with quiet observances at the three attack sites. After attending tributes at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and crash site of United Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pa.
Solemn tributes and memorials were held in cities and towns across the nation.

"If I could build a staircase to heaven, I would, just so I could quickly run up there to have you back in my arms," Carmen Suarez, widow of city police officer Ramon Suarez, said at the Ground Zero podium while reading names of the 2,749 people who died there five years ago
On the 16-acre New York City expanse where the World Trade Center towers once stood, four moments of silence were held at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m., the times when jetliners struck each of the twin towers, and when each tower fell.

Some spouses and partners of Trade Center victims who read off names included brief personal tributes to their own loved ones.

"Honey, I want you to have a happy grandparents' day in heaven," said Elaine Moccia, addressing her late husband, Frank Moccia Sr, as she released a balloon gently into the sky where the towers once rose 110 stories above the New York skyline
Families of the victims began arriving before 7 a.m., many clutching pictures of their loved ones, descended the ramp into what's known as "the pit" to roam the area and lay flowers. Some wore pins bearing pictures of the victims. The mournful sound of bagpipes, so familiar from the seemingly endless funerals that followed Sept. 11, echoed across ground zero after a choir performed the national anthem.

"We've come back to remember the valor of those we've lost, those who innocently went to work that day and the brave souls who went in after them," former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said in a ceremony at Ground Zero
Family members at Ground Zero held up signs reading "You will always be with us" and "Never forget," and quiet sobs could be heard as the moments of silence were observed. Some victims' relatives crossed themselves and wiped away tears.

"Five years have come, and five years have gone, and still we stand together as one," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. "We come back to this place to remember the heartbreaking anniversary — and each person who died here — those known and unknown to us, whose absence is always with us."

A youth choir sang "America the Beautiful" and "My Country 'Tis of Thee," and religious leaders of several faiths offered words of comfort.

"I think it's important that people remember as years go on," said Diana Kellie, of Acaconda, Mont., whose niece and niece's fiance were killed on one of the planes. "The dead are really not dead until they're forgotten
Firefighter Tommy King and others stood beside a fire truck with a windshield emblazoned with the names of two comrades who died on Sept. 11.

"It's just weird being back here," King said outside the World Financial Center, where he hasn't been for five years. "This building here was a morgue."
Vice President Dick Cheney and his wife, Lynn, attended a service of prayer and remembrance in Washington Monday morning. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joined them. Cheney then joined Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld at a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Rumsfeld choked up during his brief remarks at that event.

"I remember working our way through that long tragic day," he said, pausing in between sentences, noting that family and friends of those lost wore double American flag lapel patches. "Know that you are always in our thoughts and prayers," he added.

Cheney said, "September 11 ceased to be an ordinary day in America."

"We honor the men, women and children whose lives were taken suddenly and so coldly here at the Pentagon, the World Trade Center and on a field in Pennsylvania," the vice president continued. "We remember all that we saw and heard and felt on that Tuesday morning and how the world changed on the eleventh of September, 2001. Nine-eleven is a day of national unity that stays with all of us … we were meant to take it personally and we still do take it personally."

Camp Blanding, Fla., remembered Florida soldiers killed in action since Sept. 11. Firefighters and law enforcement officers were to be honored at Idaho's Statehouse. And in Muncie, Ind., a service was set at a funeral home that features a Sept. 11 garden with twin glass towers that light up at night.

In Chicago, people filled churches to pray and remember the victims. In Virginia Beach, Va., firefighters and residents formed a human flag. Firefighters in Akron, Ohio, displayed 3,000 American flags on a 10-acre spiritual center.

1:57 AM  
Blogger Bryansaid said...

Soory for the doulbe post

1:57 AM  
Blogger Bryansaid said...

sorry for the double post-----------"Correct spelling is an lost art"

3:26 AM  
Blogger Fujimo said...

What an Excellent Site!

If only Peter Jennings was around to broadcast this to America.

4:21 PM  

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