2008:Israel has published the analysis
of armored vehicle losses during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Of the
23 members of the armored corps killed in action, 15 were killed by ATGMs (Anti-Tank
Guided Missiles), and seven by mines. The cause of death for the other 1 is not
recorded specifically. Most probably gunfire hitting a vehicle commander with
his head out of a hatch to get a better view of the situation. Over half of the
armor casualties are attributable to just 3-4 incidents.The ATGM Merkava tank deaths are all
accounted for by just 6-7 hits.
14 APCs (armored personnel carriers) hit by ATGMs. In two of these incidents,
seven troops in the vehicles were killed. APCs got perforated 11 times. The
APCs involved were Achzarits (rebuilt, turretless, T-55 tanks) and Pumas
(rebuilt, turretless, Centurion tanks). Three APCs hit mines, killing 5
infantrymen in two incidents (4 in one vehicle). Some 90 percent of these APC
casualties all occurred in one night. In comparison, 14 infantrymen were killed
by ATGMs fired at buildings. The vast majority of the infantry casualties were
still caused by bullets, grenades, and shell fire (including PRGs).
many hundreds of engagements, there are only 8-9 recorded incidents where
Hezbollah ATGM fire was able to cause deaths inside armored vehicles, and four
times where AT fire killed troops in buildings.
experience in Lebanon again proves that ATGMs tend to be overrated. Israel
first encountered ATGMs during the 1973 war, and quickly adapted. ATGMs were
much less effective in the 1982 war, and didn't do all that well in 2006
either. Hezbollah quickly learned that the Merkava frontal armor was impervious
to their Russian Kornet ATGMs. Getting side and rear shots was more difficult,
and not a lot more successful. While the ATGM warhead often penetrated, the
Merkava was designed to take these kind of hits and survive, and survive it
did. In addition to fire extinguisher systems, the ammo and fuel are stored in
such a way that secondary explosions are rare. Thus the crew normally survives these
hits, as does the tank.
received several thousand ATGMs over the years. Many of them are elderly, like
the Russian Sagger. This is a 1960s design. It's a 24 pound missile, with a
range of 3,000 meters, that must be carefully "driven" to its target
via a joy stick controller. Requires a lot of practice to do right. The warhead
is not very effective against tanks, but can do a lot of damage to buildings.
Iran also sent some elderly TOW missiles, dating from the 1970s. These are too
heavy to haul around, and most are unstable because of age. Lighter ATGM systems
have proved more useful.
made MILAN ATGM, a 1970s design, has a 35 pound launch unit, firing a 16 pound,
wire guided missile, with a maximum range of 2,000 meters. The Syrians got
MILAN from France, and passed them on to Hezbollah. A similar Russian system,
the 9M111 Fagot, has a 25 pound missile fired from a 24 pound launch unit. An
even more modern Russian system, the Kornet E, is a laser guided missile with a
range of 5,000 meters. The launcher has a thermal sight for use at night or in
fog. The missile's warhead can penetrate 1200 mm of armor, which means that the
side armor of the Israeli Merkava tank would be vulnerable. The missile weighs
18 pounds and the launcher 42 pounds. The system was introduced in 1994 and has
been sold to Syria (who apparently passed them on to Hezbollah).