RPG-7

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RPG-7
An RPG-7 launcher (top) with a Bulgarian PG-7G inert training warhead and booster (bottom)
TypeRocket-propelled grenade launcher[1]
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1961–present
Used bySee Users
WarsSee Conflicts
Production history
DesignerBazalt
Designed1958
ManufacturerBazalt and Degtyarev plant (Russian Federation)
Unit costUSD$~2500
Produced1958–present
No. built9,000,000+[2]
VariantsRPG-7V2 (current model)
RPG-7D3 (paratrooper)
Type 69 RPG (China)
PSRL-1 (Airtronic USA)[3]
Specifications
Mass6.3 kg (13.9 lb) (without a telescopic sight)
7 kg (15.4 lb) (with PGO-7)
Length950 mm (37.4 in)

Cartridge85 mm (3.3 in)
Caliber40 mm (1.6 in)
Muzzle velocity115 m/s (380 ft/s) (boost)
300 m/s (980 ft/s) (flight)
Effective firing range330 m (1,080 ft) (PG-7V)
Maximum firing range700 m (2,300 ft) (OG-7V)
(self detonates at ~920 m (3,020 ft))
SightsPGO-7 (2.7×), UP-7V Telescopic sight and 1PN51/1PN58 night vision sights
Red dot reflex sight

The RPG-7 (Russian: РПГ-7, Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт, romanized: Ruchnoy Protivotankovyy Granatomot, lit.'Handheld anti-tank grenade launcher') is a portable, reusable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank, rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The RPG-7 and its predecessor, the RPG-2, were designed by the Soviet Union, and are now manufactured by the Russian company Bazalt. The weapon has the GRAU index (Russian armed forces index) 6G3.

The ruggedness, simplicity, low cost, and effectiveness of the RPG-7 has made it the most widely used anti-armor weapon in the world. Currently around 40 countries use the weapon; it is manufactured in several variants by nine countries. It is popular with irregular and guerrilla forces.

Widely produced, the most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D (десантник – desantnikparatrooper) model, which can be broken into two parts for easier carrying; and the lighter Chinese Type 69 RPG. DIO of Iran manufactures RPG-7s with olive green handguards, H&K pistol grips, and a commando variant.

The RPG-7 was first delivered to the Soviet Army in 1961 and deployed at the squad level. It replaced the RPG-2, having clearly out-performed the intermediate RPG-4 design during testing. The current model produced by the Russian Federation is the RPG-7V2, capable of firing standard and dual high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, high explosive/fragmentation, and thermobaric warheads, with a UP-7V sighting device fitted (used in tandem with the standard 2.7× PGO-7 optical sight) to allow the use of extended range ammunition. The RPG-7D3 is the equivalent paratrooper model. Both the RPG-7V2 and RPG-7D3 were adopted by the Russian Ground Forces in 2001.

Description[edit]

RPG-7 V2

The launcher is reloadable and based around a steel tube, 40 mm (1.6 in) in diameter, 950 mm (37 in) long, and weighing 7 kg (15 lb). The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared. Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infrared and night sights are also available. The launchers designated RPG-7N1 and RPG-7DN1 can thus mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN51[4] and the launchers designated RPG-7N2 and RPG-7DN2 can mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN58.[5]

As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40–105 mm (1.6–4.1 in) in diameter and weighs between 2 kg (4.4 lb)[6] and 4.5 kg (9.9 lb). It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 m/s (380 ft/s), and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke that can give away the position of the shooter.[7] The rocket motor[a] ignites after 10 m (33 ft) and sustains flight out to 500 m (1,600 ft) at a maximum velocity of 295 m/s (970 ft/s). The grenade is stabilized by two sets of fins that deploy in-flight: one large set on the stabilizer pipe to maintain direction and a smaller rear set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 m (3,600 ft) the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 m (3,020 ft).[8]

Propulsion system[edit]

An Afghan National Army soldier firing an RPG-7, 2013

According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Bulletin 3u (1977) Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher—Capabilities and Countermeasures, the RPG-7 munition has two sections: a "booster" section and a "warhead and sustainer motor" section. These must be assembled into the ready-to-use grenade. The booster consists of a "small strip powder charge" that serves to propel the grenade out of the launcher; the sustainer motor then ignites and propels the grenade for the next few seconds, giving it a top speed of 294 m/s (960 ft/s). The TRADOC bulletin provides anecdotal commentary that the RPG-7 has been fired from within buildings, which agrees with the two-stage design. It is stated that only a 2 metres (6.6 feet) standoff to a rear obstruction is needed for use inside rooms or fortifications. The fins not only provide drag stabilization, but are designed to impart a slow rotation to the grenade.[citation needed]

Due to the configuration of the RPG-7 sustainer/warhead section, it responds counter-intuitively to crosswinds. A crosswind will tend to exert pressure on the stabilizing fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind (see Weathervane effect). While the rocket motor is still burning, this will cause the flight path to curve into the wind. The TRADOC bulletin explains aiming difficulties for more distant moving targets in crosswinds at some length.

Ammunition[edit]

Rocket-propelled grenades
Inside of an RPG's three sections.
I) The head contains
  1. trigger
  2. conductive cone
  3. aerodynamic fairing
  4. conical liner
  5. body
  6. explosive
  7. conductor
  8. detonator
II) The rocket motor consists of
  1. nozzle block
  2. nozzle
  3. motor body
  4. propellant
  5. motor rear
  6. ignition primer
III) The booster charge includes
  1. fin
  2. cartridge
  3. charge
  4. turbine
  5. tracer
  6. foam wad

The RPG-7 can fire a variety of warheads for anti-armor (HEAT, PG-Protivotankovaya Granata) or anti-personnel (HE, OG-Oskolochnaya Granata) purposes, usually fitting with an impact (PIBD) and a 4.5 second fuze. Armor penetration is warhead dependent and ranges from 300–600 mm (12–24 in) of RHA; one warhead, the PG-7VR, is a 'tandem charge' device, used to defeat reactive armor with a single shot.[citation needed]

Current production ammunition for the RPG-7V2 consists of four main types:

Other warhead variants include:

  • PG-7V [c.1961] – baseline 85 mm (3.3 in) HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 260 mm (10 in) RHA.[10]
  • PG-7VM [c.1969] – improved 70 mm (2.8 in) HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 300 mm (12 in) RHA.
  • PG-7VS [c.1972] – improved 73 mm (2.9 in) HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 400 mm (16 in) RHA.
  • PG-7VS1 [c.mid-1970s] – cheaper PG-7VS version capable of penetrating 360 mm (14 in) RHA.
  • GSh-7VT [c.2013] – anti-bunker warhead with cylindrical follow-through blast-fragmentation munition followed by explosively formed penetrator.[11]
  • OGi-7MA [unknown] – anti-personnel fragmentation munition developed for the Bulgarian ATGL-L. improved equivalent to the Soviet OG-7V. Compatible with RPG-7. [12]

Specifications[edit]

Manufacturer specifications for the RPG-7V1.[13]

Name Type Image Weight Explosive weight[14][15] Diameter Penetration Lethal radius
PG-7VL Single-stage HEAT
2.6 kg (5.7 lb) 730 g (26 oz) OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 93 mm (3.7 in) >500 mm (20 in) RHA
PG-7VR Tandem charge HEAT
4.5 kg (9.9 lb) 1.43 kg (3.2 lb) OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 64 mm (2.5 in)/105 mm (4.1 in) 600 mm (24 in) RHA (with reactive armor)

750 mm (30 in) RHA</ref> (without reactive armor)

OG-7V Fragmentation
2 kg (4 lb) 210 g (7.4 oz) A-IX-1 40 mm (1.6 in) 7 m (23 ft) (vs. body armor)[16][17]
TBG-7V Thermobaric
4.5 kg (9.9 lb) 1.9 kg (4.2 lb) ОМ 100МИ-3Л + 0.25 kg (0.55 lb) A-IX-1 (as thermobaric explosive booster) 105 mm (4.1 in) 10 m (30 ft)

Hit probabilities[edit]

Range
m (ft)
Percent
50 (160) 100
100 (330) 96
200 (660) 51
300 (980) 22
400 (1,300) 9
500 (1,600) 4

A 1976 U.S. Army evaluation of the weapon gave the hit probabilities on a 5-by-2.5-metre (16.4 ft × 8.2 ft) panel moving sideways at 4 m/s (13 ft/s).[18] Crosswinds cause additional issues as the round steers into the wind; in an 11 km/h (6.8 mph) wind, firing at a stationary tank sized target, the gunner cannot expect to get a first-round hit more than 50% of the time at 180 m (590 ft).[19]

History of use[edit]

The RPG-7 was first used in 1967 by Egypt during the Six-Day War, and by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, but it did not see widespread usage in Vietnam until the following year.[20]

The RPG-7 was used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2005, most notably in Lurgan, County Armagh, where it was used against British Army observation posts and the towering military base at Kitchen Hill in the town.[21] The IRA also used them in Catholic areas of West Belfast against British Army armoured personnel carriers and Army forward operating bases (FOB). Beechmount Avenue in Belfast became known as "RPG Avenue" after attacks on British troops.[22]

In Mogadishu, Somalia, RPG-7s were used to down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters in 1993.[23][24]

During the first and second Chechen wars, Chechens used RPG-7 which they had captured from Soviet bases and used them against Russian armored columns. During the first war, Russians may have lost 100 tanks and 250 AFVs in Grozny.[25] The Chechens were able to knock out T-72s with three or four RPG-7 hits. Against T-72s with explosive reactive armor, the Chechens fired an RPG in close range (within 50 m (160 ft)) to detonate the armor and then followed this with RPG hits on the now exposed point of the tank, also from close range.[26] The RPG-7 was also effective against armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), buildings and personnel.[27]

The PG-7VR has been used by Iraqi insurgents.[28] On 28 August 2003, it achieved a mobility kill against an American M1 Abrams hitting the left side hull next to the forward section of the engine compartment.[29]

During the War in Afghanistan (2001–2021), several M1A2 Abrams were temporarily disabled by RPG-7 hits.[30]

Users[edit]

A map with users of the RPG-7 in blue and former users in red
A Bulgarian soldier with an ATGL-L (Bulgarian copy of the RPG-7) equipped with a red dot reflex sight.
A Romanian soldier with an AG-7 (licensed built RPG-7).
Iranian manufactured RPG-7 launcher, uncovered in Lebanon, by the IDF.

Non-state users[edit]

Former users[edit]

Conflicts[edit]

1960s[edit]

1970s[edit]

1990s[edit]

2000s[edit]

2020s[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ no rocket motors in OG-7V

References[edit]

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  5. ^ ИЗДЕЛИЕ 1ПН58 ТЕХНИЧЕСКОЕ ОПИСАНИЕ И ИНСТРУКЦИЯ ПО ЭКСПЛУАТАЦИИ [Product 1PN58 Technical Description and Operating Instructions] (in Russian). February 1991. pp. 5, 15.
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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]