- May 11, 2022
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Context: RPG based on the German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon
Concept: A weapon of Soviet origin. The initials in Russian stand for rucknoypeotivotankovvygranaromyot, which roughly translates into “handheld anti-tank grenade launcher”.
It is a portable, shoulder-fired weapon that is easy to operate and can cause widespread damage whether it is targeted at personnel, armoured vehicles or buildings. There are different versions that have been designed based on how they are intended to be used, with varying warhead capacities, effective ranges and penetration levels.
Types of RPGs (current, past and under development) include:
- Anti-personnel explosives. RPG-7: Reloadable RPG launcher, TBG-7V thermobaric rocket and OG-7V fragmentation grenade. RPG-27 “Tavolga”: One-shot disposable RPG launcher, RShG-1 thermobaric rockets.
- Anti-tank explosives. RPG-1. RPG-2.
- Bunker buster. RMG.
The origins of the RPG’s use date back to conflicts around the world beginning with the First World War. Various such handheld weapons have been developed by western military powers, but the most prolific of these has been the RPG, which has been used in almost every major insurgency or terrorism- affected region around the world.
Soviet-origin RPGs have been used extensively in the Vietnam conflict as well as in conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria Iraq, and even Jammu and Kashmir. Security forces in Kashmir have in the past recovered RPGs from terrorists they have killed, and have also found evidence of the use of RPGs.
How does a rocket-propelled grenade work?
The abrupt acceleration of the grenade leaving the launcher triggers a piezoelectric fuzethat ignites the primer (pyro-retarding gunpowder mixture). This then ignites the squib of nitro, thereby activating the rocket propulsion system (sustainer motor) to carry the grenade the rest of its trajectory.
The RPG-7, whose designation stands for RuchnoyProtivotankoviyGranatomet—or “hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher”—is a recoilless, muzzle-loaded, shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon that fires a fin-stabilized rocket with a shaped charge warhead. The Chinese license-built version is called the Type 65 RPG.
- The RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher is robust, simple and lethal. It is also extremely popular. The RPG-7 is the result of many years of revisions and modifications. The “original” RPG — based on the German Panzerfaust anti-tank weapon – was eventually followed by the RPG-2, the RPG-3 and so on.
- The RPG-4 had passed field trials in 1961, test findings of a newer model, the RPG-7, were released that same year, but with much improved firing range and armor piercing capabilities.
- So in 1961 it was the RPG-7, not the RPG-4, which the Soviet Armed forces adopted for actual use.
- The RPG-7 is used by the armies of over forty different countries and is also used, reportedly, by a range of terrorist organizations in the Middle East and Latin Americas.
Firing an RPG-7
The RPG operator or an artillary assistant takes a propelling charge (booster, in image below) and screws it onto the end of a warhead.
Basically, this is a stabilizing pipe that has four stabilizing fins that are folded around it with two additional fins at its rear end.
A cardboard container encases the back end of the stabilizing pipe. Inside the cardboard container, a squib of nitroglycerin powder is wrapped around the stabilizing pipe and a primer or charge of gunpowder is stuffed into the end of the stabilizing pipe.
The RPG operator or artillary person then takes this assembled artillery and loads it into the front end of the RPG launcher so that it lines up with the trigger mechanism.
After the RPG operator pulls the trigger, this is what happens:
There are several types of grenades that can be used in the RPG-7.
- Point initiating, base-detonating (PIBD) piezoelectric fuze: they are impact grenades. And, many others have back-up time delay systems, so that if they have not reached a target in a certain amount of time (something like four and a half seconds) the grenade will self-destruct.
- The most commonly launched grenades are a High Explosive(HE) or High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT)
Impact grenades must be unarmed until they are actually fired because any accidental contact might set them off. Since they are usually shot from a launcher, they must have an automatic arming system.
- the arming system is triggered by the propellant explosion that drives the grenade out of the launcher.
- the grenade’s acceleration or rotation during its flight arms the detonator.
As for the back-up timed delay, the same fuze mechanism that sets off the rocket would set this off. The spark ignites a slow-burning material in the fuze. In about four seconds, the delay material burns all the way through. The end of the delay element is connected to the detonator. The burning material at the end of the delay ignites the material in the detonator, thereby exploding the warhead.
Nicknamed ‘Netto’, RPG-22 is a one-shot disposable Soviet anti-tank rocket launcher that propels a 72.5 mm fin-stabilised projectile that can be prepared to fire in around 10 seconds, and can penetrate 400 mm of armour, 1.2 metres of brick or 1 metre of reinforced concrete.
The smoothbore container is made from two fibreglass parts; a main tube containing the rocket, and a telescoping forward extension, which slides over the barrel.
In transport mode, both ends of the barrel are closed by plastic covers, which open when the weapon is extended. The firing mechanism is manually cocked by raising the rear sight. Lowering the rear sight de-cocks the weapon if there is no target.
On firing, there is a backblast danger area behind the weapon, of at least 15 metres. The solid propellant motor completely burns out while the rocket is still in the barrel tube, accelerating it to about 133 metres per second. The weapon has simple pop-up sights graduated to ranges of 50, 150 and 250 metres.
To keep training costs down, a reusable RPG-22 is available that fires a 30 mm subcalibre projectile, weighing 350g, to operational ranges. Handling is identical to that of the full calibre version, with the exception of the discharge noise and backblast.
On the evening of 20 September 2000, the MI6 Building in London (the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service) was attacked by unapprehended forces using an RPG-22 anti-tank rocket, causing superficial damage.