AT-15 Krizantema

Threat Update: The Khrizantema Missile System

by WO1 Michael P. McGeever
Intelligence Production Section
11th Armored Cavalry Regiment


Until 1994, Commonwealth of Independent States arms manufacturers were only producing antitank guided missile (ATGM) systems that were wire-guided, with limited range and subject to countermeasures. These included the Fagot (AT-4/SPIGOT), Konkurs (AT-5/SPANDREL), and Metis (AT-7/SAXHORN).

In October 1994, the KPB Instrument Design Bureau introduced the Kornet (AT-14) ATGM system. The Kornet was developed introducing a laser beam-riding missile with automatic command-to-line of sight (SACLOS) guidance. The operator simply has to keep the sight on the target to ensure a hit. The laser beam-riding system is also less vulnerable to countermeasures. The Kornet was specifically designed to replace the Konkurs, which has been in service with the former Soviet and Russian armies for over twenty years.1

The Kornet, which has a claimed ability to penetrate 1100 to 1200 millimeters of steel armor protected by explosive armor, provided a formidable antitank weapon system. However, even with the improved capabilities the Kornet has over earlier systems, an ATGM with all-weather, day or night, immunity to countermeasures, and fire and forget capabilities was still highly desired.

In July 1996, Russia's KBM Engineering Design Bureau revealed a dual-guidance missile system with the desired capabilities. A new long-range ATGM, the Khrizantema (9M123), capable of firing six-kilometer-range supersonic missiles, incorporating both radar and laser command guidance receivers, is in its last stage of testing. KBM expects production to begin in 1998. The key role of the Khrizantema (Russian for "chrysanthemum") is to destroy armored vehicles at long range. In addition, it could be used to destroy bunkers, and to engage slow- or low-flying helicopters.2

Chassis and Crew

The Khrizantema missile system is mounted on a modified BMP-3 infantry combat vehicle chassis. The chassis is designated the 9M157-2, and has the amphibious capability of the BMP-3. It is propelled by two water-propulsion jets allowing it to achieve speeds of ten kilometers per hour. Standard equipment includes an NBC protection system and a front-mounted self-entrenching blade. The two-man crew, consisting of a commander/gunner and driver, are seated in the front of the vehicle under full armor protection. The Khrizantema prototype is based on the BMP-3 chassis, but can be fitted on other types of chassis, and an air-launched version is being studied.3


The standard turret of the BMP-3 has been removed, as have the firing ports in the rear troop compartment. In lieu of the usual turret, the missile launcher consists of a twin elevating arm with two missiles in the ready-to-launch position, and an automatic loading system in the back of the vehicle. Once the ready missiles have been launched, the launcher arm is retracted into the hull and loaded automatically. The automatic loading system carries a total of fifteen missiles in launch tubes. Once all fifteen missiles have been expended, missiles are loaded from the right side of the vehicle using an onboard loading device.4


Two models of the 9M123 missile have been developed. One has a tandem high-explosive antitank (HEAT) warhead; designated the 9M123-2, it apparently can penetrate over 1000 millimeters of steel armor protected by explosive reactive armor (ERA). The second model, the 9M123-F-2, has a high explosive warhead. The maximum range of the missile is 6000 meters with a maximum speed of 400 meters per second; thus it is supersonic. The missile has two movable control surfaces at its rear, with four wrap-around wings about three-quarters of the way down its body toward the rear. The ATGM will probably be designated AT-15 by NATO once the system enters volume production.5

Guidance Systems

For the first time in the world, an automatic radar target detection and tracking system, with simultaneous missile control during its guidance to the target, was developed for the Khrizantema ATGM. The unique feature of the missile is that it has two modes of guidance: automatic, where it is guided by a roof-mounted radar; and by a semi-automatic laser beam rider, using the sight mounted in the front of the hull on the right side. There is no known comparable missile in the West under development or in service with a similar guidance system.6

The first mode of guidance, in which the missile is guided by a radar mounted on the left side of the roof, is automatic under both day and night conditions, and does not require the gunner to maintain visual contact with the target. This virtually means the implementation of the fire-and-forget principle. The second mode, in which the missile rides a laser beam aimed from the sight mounted on the front right side of the glacis plate, is semi-automatic and requires the sight to be kept on the target until the missile strikes home. The system allows two targets to be engaged simultaneously using either the same or different modes of guidance.7

The manufacturer, KBM, reports that the guidance systems allow the missile enough flexibility to be launched in day or night and in poor weather conditions. KBM also states that the system provides a errobust performance against both passive and active countermeasures. The presence of dust, dense smoke, and battlefield fires has no effect on the system's guidance electronics. When not in use, the radar system can be retracted into the hull under full armor protection.8


The development of the Khrizantema missile system provides the Russian Army with a weapon system that will significantly upgrade its antitank capability. Currently, the Russian Army employs the BRDM-2/AT-5 ATGM variant carrying either SPIGOT (normally for the AT-4 system) or longer-ranged SPANDREL missiles. This system is antiquated by modern standards, and lacks the mobility, armor protection, and effectiveness of the Khrizantema. The Khrizantema's 6000-meter standoff and all-weather, round-the-clock capability, will enhance the firepower and survivability of the battlefield commander's antitank assets.9

The Russian Army is now faced with the option of purchasing the leass expensive BMP-3 mounted Kornet system, which is a follow-on to the AT-5, or the more expensive Khrizantema, a more powerful system capable of engaging more targets at greater ranges. It is likely that they will purchase both, possibly employing the Kornet at regimental level and the Khrizantema at division level. Another option would be a mix of both systems at both regimental and division level. Regardless of its placement in the Russian Army, many nations may find it desirable and allocate a portion of their budgets to purchase the extremely capable Khrizantema missile system.10


1. Christopher F. Foss, "Chrysanthemum comes to light", Jane's Intelligence Review, September 1, 1996, p. 402.BACK

2. Ibid. See also "Russian Dual-Mode Missile", in International Defense Review, August 1, 1996, p.22.BACK

3. Ibid.BACK

4. Ibid. See also "Russian Missile Reseal Dual Guidense System", Jane's Defense Weekly, July 3, 1996, p.15.BACK

5. Ibid. See also Nikolai Gushchin, "Khrizantema Has No Equivalents". Military Parade, July-August 1996, pp. 10-12.BACK

6. Ibid. See also Gushchin.BACK

7. Ibid.BACK

8. Ibid. See Gushchin.BACK

9. Ibid.BACK

10. Ibid.BACK

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