Wednesday, 9 April 2014

9M117/9K116-1 Bastion Anti-tank missiles in Syria

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 

On the 7th of April 2014, Syrian rebels captured the Tel Ahmar ammunition depot in Quneitra Governorate. Apart from frequently seen anti-tank weapons like the RPG-29 and the 9M131 Metis-M, Tel Ahmar contained another type of munition that was long rumored to be in Syrian inventory, but is now actually seen for the very first time: The Bastion anti-tank missile.

The photo seen below shows no less than nine 3UBK10M-1 tank gun rounds with associated 9M117M guided missiles captured at Tel Ahmar.

The 9M117M missile, also known under its NATO designation AT-10 Stabber, is designed to be fired through the barrel of a gun. It is an upgraded version of the base-model 9M117 ATGM, carrying a tandem HEAT warhead with an average armour penetration of about 600 mm RHA after penetrating the ERA (explosive reactive armour) of a tank. Together with the casing and the propellant charge, the missile makes the 3UBK10M gun round. The 9M117M missile in a 3UBK10M-1 round together with the guidance device aboard the T-55AM(V) tank is called 9K116-1 Bastion.

Different models of 3UBK10Ms, all containing the same 9M117M missile, can be fired from MT-12 anti-tank guns, T-55 and T-62 tanks and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles. The guided missile rounds from Tel Ahmar are of the 3UBK10M-1 model, designed to be fired from T-55AM(V) tanks.

The 3UBK10M family of guided missile gun rounds; 3UBK10M-1 is the second from the left.

Markings on 3UBK10M-1 rounds captured at Tel Ahmar.

Syria is believed to have acquired the 9M117's carrier, the T-55AM, in the early eighties. Most of the T-55AMs were later upgraded to T-55MV standard with increased armour protection in the form of Kontakt-1 explosive reactive armour. Quneitra saw large concentrations of the latter stationed here, making it likely the pictured missiles were supposed to be fired by T-55MVs.

Unverifiable reports claim the purchase of as many as 2000 9M117M missiles by Syria.[1] Most of the missiles likely remain stockpiled in ammunition depots, like Tel Ahmar, along the Golan Heights for possible use against Israeli armour.

While originally bought for use against Israeli Magach and Merkava tanks, due to the lack of engagements between tanks, the Bastion hasn't been deployed in the Syrian Civil War yet. This will likely remain the case for the time being: Even though rebels do operate several T-55AMs and T-55MVs in the area, it is highly unlikely that the untrained crews will be able to operate the 9M117 in conjunction with the sophisticated missile guidance equipment in the tank itself. The only footage we're likely to see is from captured arms depots like this one in Tel Ahmar.

Special thanks to PFC_Joker.


  1. do they need T-55 with "fire control system" to launch such missile?

    1. They do. In Syria, only the T-55AMs and T-55AMVs have this system.