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Konkurs

Anti-tank guided missile

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

The 9K113 Konkurs is one of the most successful anti-tank weapons, developed by the Soviet Union

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1974
Missile
Armor penetration 600 - 670 mm
Missile length 1 390 mm
Missile diameter 135 mm
Fin span ?
Missile weight 14.5 kg
Total weight with launcher 25 kg
Warhead weight 2.7 kg
Warhead type HEAT
Range of fire up to 4 km
Range of fire (at night) up to 2 - 2.5 km
Guidance Wire-guided

 

   It’s one of the most successful anti-tank weapons ever developed by the Soviet Union. Often compared by Western sources to the American BGM-71 TOW or the French MILAN, in reality the 9K113 Konkurs (Russian for “Competition”), designated the AT-5 Spandrel by the West, has little in common with its peers.

   Despite its Cold War bona fides and widespread adoption on vehicles like the BMP-2, the BRDM-2 reconnaissance vehicle, and the BMD-2, examining the available literature about the Konkurs is a bit disappointing. The information discussing its origins, development, and evolution is perfunctory at best other than the oft-repeated and tiresome explanation that it’s a larger, deadlier variant of the 9K111 Fagot (known in the West as AT-4 Spigot).

   It’s only when alternative sources are trawled from the Russian internet that crucial details emerge from its mysterious past.

   A product of the Tula Machinery Design Bureau the Fagot/Konkurs was a second-generation ATGM program launched in 1966. It marked a departure from the original batch of Soviet anti-tank missiles like the Malyutka (Western reporting name AT-3 Sagger) and the older Fleyta (AT-2 Swatter) that so fascinated the Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev during the late 1950s.

   Entering service with the Soviet Army in 1974 the Konkurs was eventually built in vast quantities and exported to the usual club of Middle Eastern and Eastern European client states. To keep production costs manageable the new ATGM was designed for a velocity of 206 meters per second; an ideal speed for ambushes that didn’t require an expensive missile. But it wasn’t until 1977 that NATO managed to identify the new ATGM and differentiate it from the 9K111 Fagot (AT-4 Spigot).

   The close resemblance between the 9K111 and the 9K113 stems from being the same systems except for their armament—the 9K111 supports a 120 mm missile while the heftier 9K113 is a 135 mm missile. Both are mounted on the 9P135 tripod-launcher system. It combines the collapsible 9P56 launcher unit or tripod with an integrated 9S451M guidance unit/ controller box and firing mechanism.

   Whatever analysis and writing can be gleaned from Western sources during the Cold War fail to acknowledge how advanced the Konkurs was for its time. Even though it was a wire-guided Semi-Automatic Command to Line of Sight (SACLOS) ATGM all its other features were incomparable to anything in the West. This casts doubt on the assertion that the Konkurs was a derivative of the French MILAN. It turns out both were very different systems.

   True to the European fashion the Konkurs used a collapsible mount that allowed its deployment in a concealed position or behind cover. Unlike the BGM-71 TOW, for example, the Konkurs could be launched without the operator exposing themselves by standing up or crouching behind the guidance unit or fire control system.

   When launched the Konkurs’ missile spins toward the target and emits a red tail light so its course can be followed visually. Should the missile be detected by a jammer or an active protection system the operator is alerted and can choose to manually guide the warhead by hand control like with the Malyutka (AT-3 Sagger).

   The Konkurs packed a lethal punch as well, capable of reaching targets 4 kilometers away. When used at night the Konkurs’ 1PN65 thermal sight cut its effective range by half to 2 - 2.5 kilometers. By comparison the baseline MILAN had a maximum effective range of just two kilometers. The Konkurs’ HEAT warhead had superb penetration nearly twice that of rival tube launched ATGM’s in the 1970s.

   By the time the improved Konkurs-M was introduced it was an even more potent ATGM with a tandeam HEAT warhead that could dispatch any tank. Even third-generation MBTs, when bereft of a well-trained crew and either protective countermeasures or additional composite armor, are in dire straits against a Konkurs team readying in concealment.

   A prolific ATGM the Konkurs placement on vehicles like the BMP-2, of which an estimated 20 000 were built, meant its production reached at least the tens of thousands. The Soviet Union shared its production with Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia. Today it’s Slovenia who inherited the latter’s ATGM production.

   Substantial stocks of the Konkurs were left in what used to be the Eastern Bloc, especially in Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, and Moldova. Its production has also extended to Iran. Meanwhile India’s Bharat Dynamics Ltd. allegedly manufactures the Konkurs but in 2012 New Delhi was forced to acquire 10 000 additional Konkurs-M missiles as a stopgap for a shortage of ATGMs.

   A disappointing aspect of the Konkurs is it never proved itself in battle as anti-tank weapon. Surviving records and photographic evidence showing it being fired in anger are quite scarce among conflicts the Soviet Union participated in during the 1980s. Three decades after it caused furrowed eyebrows among NATO’s intelligence analysts the Konkurs finally lived up to its reputation in the ongoing Syrian Civil War where rebel fighters regularly published combat footage of ATGM kills for soliciting financial aid from their patrons. The Konkurs made a comeback during the military conflict in Ukraine, however these are mainly deployed against infantry, rather than armored vehicles.

   With the Russian Army fixated on larger and larger ATGM’s like the Kornet or the Khryzantema the Konkurs continued use may be in doubt. Do keep in mind that no matter what there are just so many stockpiled in the arsenals of between 25 and 40 countries.

 

Variants

 

   9K113M Konkurs-M (Western reporting name Spandrel-B) – it has a tandem HEAT warhead and penetrates between 750 to 800 mm of armor behind ERA. The improved 9M113M missiles can be launched using the launcher unit of the Konkurs.

   9P148 anti-tank missile carrier, based on the BRDM-2. It is armed with five 9M113 launch tubes.

   Tosan – Iranian copy of the Konkurs.

 

Miguel Miranda

   Article by MIGUEL MIRANDA

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Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM


 
Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGM

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