RPO-Shmel and Launcher
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|In service||Late 1980s|
|Used by||See Users|
|Length||Launcher: 920 mm, Rocket: 700mm|
|Muzzle velocity||125 ±5 m/s|
|Effective firing range||20m - 1000m (sighting range is 600m), RPO-M is 1700m|
The RPO-A "Shmel" (Russian "РПО-А Шмель") (RPO-A "Bumblebee") is a man-portable rocket launcher although it is classified as a flamethrower (Russian Реактивный Пехотный Огнемет)(Reactive Infantry Flamethrower) by the manufacturer, KBP, Tula.
The "Shmel" is designed, produced and exported by the Russian Federation and previously by the Soviet Union. It entered service with the Soviet Armed Forces at the end of the 1980s as the successor for the RPO "Rys".
The RPO-A is a single-shot, self-contained tube shaped launcher which operates much like some RPG and LAW rocket launchers. The launcher is a sealed tube, carried in a man-pack in pairs. The same person can remove the tube, place it in firing position, and launch the weapon without assistance. After launch, the tube is discarded. All models are externally similar.
Each weapon contains a single rocket, of which there are three varieties. The basic rocket is the RPO-A, which has a thermobaric warhead and is designed for attacking soft targets under moderate cover. The RPO-Z is the incendiary warhead (Rus. зажигательный) designed to spread fire and ignite targets. Finally, there is a smoke-producing warhead (Rus. дымовой) offered, the RPO-D.
Specifications provided by Jane's:
- Calibre: 93 mm
- Launcher: 920 mm
- Rocket: 700 mm
- Single weapon: 11 kg
- Transit pack of two: 22 kg
- Sighting range: 600 m
- Minimum: 20 m
- Maximum: 1,000 m
- Initial velocity: 125 ±5 m/s
- RPO-A: 2.1 kg thermobaric
- RPO-Z: 2.1 kg incendiary
- RPO-D: 2.3 kg smoke
- Operational temperature range: −50 to +50 °C
- Shelf life: 10 years
A recent development is the improved RPO-M "Shmel-M" that was shown for the first time at Eurosatory 2006. This version is quite similar to the original weapon, but has a calibre of 90 mm and a weight of 8.8 kg. Its launcher is reusable. The system has better ergonomics and uses an improved rocket with better ballistics and terminal effect and with a maximum range of 1,700 m. The "Shmel-M" is also known as RPO PDM-A (Rus. Повышенной Дальности и Мощности — "enhanced range and lethality") and is produced for the local and export markets. Adopted in 24.12.2003.
MGK Bur (Rus. Малогабаритный Гранатомётный Комплекс — "Compact Grenade-launching System") is a 62 mm variant with reusable launch tube.
RPO weapons have seen use by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and by both the Russian and the rebel forces in the First and Second Chechen Wars. On 9 August 2014, during the Donbass War, the Ukrainian border checkpoint of Milove was attacked from Russia using RPO flamethrowers. The main building was hit by five incendiary rockets.
- Democratic People's Republic of Korea
- Sri Lanka
- FHJ 84 — an over/under [clarification needed] two-shot variant from China
- M202A1 FLASH — a similar weapon developed by the US Army
- List of Russian weaponry
- Gander, Terry (2001-01-05). "RPO-A Shmel rocket infantry flame-thrower". Land Forces. Jane's.
- Rocket Flamethrower Shmel-M (Огнемет Шмель-М)
- (English) http://kbptula.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=309&Itemid=653&lang=en#spoiler_0
- "Впервые на IDEX-2013 КБП рекламирует многоцелевой ракетный комплекс дальнего действия «Корнет-ЭМ»". ЦАМТО (in Russian). Moscow: Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade. 18 February 2013. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
- "Погранзаставу в Меловом обстреляли из огнеметов с территории РФ". Liga News. 9 August 2014.
- "Armament of the Georgian Army". Georgian Army. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
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