Armor: March 3, 2000


The Russian Kornet and Reflexs cannon-launched guided missiles have been found to have an unknown capability, that being to conduct a "terminal dive" maneuver and strike the target tank from an angle of 30-to-40 degrees. From such an angle, the missile could strike the thinner armor on top of the turret or the hull front. This makes the missiles far more deadly than anyone in the West knew before. Just how these laser-beam-riding missiles accomplish this is unknown. Most top attack missiles fly a level path over the target and fire a warhead down into it. Missiles such as Javelin, Hellfire, and the Israeli Gill/Spike family conduct a terminal dive by tracking the target and triggering the maneuver at the last instant before impact. Some doubt that the maneuver exists at all. Refleks and Kobra had previously been known to fly an elevated profile to avoid brush, wrecks, and other obstacles, then drop to the line-of-sight a few hundred meters from the target and attacks directly. This change in flight path is triggered by the rangefinder of the firing vehicle. This missile is known to have an emergency firing mode in which the missile stays on the line of sight for the entire path (used for close targets), and a special mode (used for very cluttered battlefields) in which the drop to line of sight is delayed until the last 100m. This is triggered by a timer system based on the original range to the target taken by the firing tank's laser rangefinder. In theory, at least, this maneuver could be set for a shorter distance, resulting in a defacto terminal dive.--Stephen V Cole


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