An RPG-7 with a Russian PG-7G inert training warhead and booster (below), pictured with the launcher
|Type||Rocket-propelled grenade launcher|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||Since the Vietnam War|
|Manufacturer||Bazalt and Degtyarev plant (Russian Federation)|
|Variants||RPG-7V2 (current model)
Type 69 RPG (China)
B-41 (Vietnam), (Cambodia)
|Weight||7 kg (15 lb)|
|Length||950 mm (37.4 in)|
|Muzzle velocity||115 m/s (boost)
300 m/s (flight)
|Effective firing range||200 m|
|Maximum firing range||500 m
(self detonates at ≈920 m (1,000 yd))
|Sights||PGO-7 (2.7x), UP-7V Telescopic sight and 1PN51/1PN58 night vision sights
Red dot reflex sight
The RPG-7 (Russian: РПГ-7) is a portable, reusable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Originally the RPG-7 (Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт – Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot – Hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher) and its predecessor, the RPG-2, were designed by the Soviet Union; it is 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, and it is manufactured in several variants by nine countries. It is popular with irregular and guerrilla forces. The RPG has been used in almost all conflicts across all continents since the mid-1960s from the Vietnam War to the early 2010s War in Afghanistan.
Widely produced, the most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D paratrooper model (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 a 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 (see below), 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.
The English-language term "rocket-propelled grenade", though frequently encountered and reasonably descriptive, is a backronym of the "RPG" from the transliteration of Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт (Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot) – Russian for "handheld anti-tank grenade launcher" – and not based on a true literal translation.
The launcher is reloadable and based around a steel tube, 40 millimeters in diameter, 95.3 centimeters long, and weighing 7 kilograms. The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared to assist in blast shielding and recoil reduction.[dubious ] Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infra-red and night sights are also available. The launchers designated RPG-7N1 and RPG-7DN1 can thus mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN51 and the launchers designated RPG-7N2 and RPG-7DN2 can mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN58.
As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40–105 millimeters in diameter and weighs between 2.0 and 4.5 kilograms. It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 meters per second, and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke that can give away the position of the shooter. The rocket motor ignites after 10 meters and sustains flight out to 500 meters at a maximum velocity of 295 meters per second. 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 front set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 meters; the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 meters.
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 metres per second (660 mph). 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-meter 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.
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. 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. Similar to a recoilless rifle the RPG-7 has no noticeable recoil, the only effect during firing being that of the sudden lightness of the launcher as the rocket leaves the tube.
In 2009, American company Airtronic USA unveiled a modernized version of the weapon called the RPG-7USA. The launcher is fitted with updated features including a MIL-STD-1913 Quad Rail System for mounting combat optics, flip-up back up iron sights, aiming lasers/illuminators, tactical lights, and vertical foregips, as well as an M4 carbine-style pistol grip and telescoping stock. Compared to the RPG-7V2, the American launcher, named by the company the Precision Shoulder-fired Rocket Launcher (PSRL-1), is slightly lighter at 14 lb (6.35 kg) unloaded without optics and is made of 4140/4150 ordnance-grade steel for a longer 1,000-round lifespan that can separate into two pieces for compact carry. The PSRL-1 uses EOTech sights with a new sighting system that combines an illuminated reticule for use in low light situations, and is able to be fitted with magnifying optical sights for long-range firing enabling 90% hit probability at 800 meters, twice the distance of other RPGs; rate of fire is 3-4 rounds per minute. It is reportedly accurate at ranges from 900-1,200 m, and guided rockets could extend range to 2,000 meters. The weapon was a program of record in U.S. Special Operations Command by 2015, and the PSRL-1 was to enter production by mid-2016. Airtronic has also developed the more advanced GS-777/PSRL-2 model made of high-strength polymer that reduces weight to 7.77 lb (3.5 kg) and further improves durability and life cycle.
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 30 to 60 centimeters of RHA; one warhead, the PG-7VR, is a 'tandem charge' device, used to defeat reactive armor with a single shot.
Current production ammunition for the RPG-7V2 consists of four main types:
- PG-7VL [c.1977] Improved 93 mm HEAT warhead effective against most vehicles and fortified targets.
- PG-7VR [c.1988] Dual 64 mm/105 mm HEAT warhead for defeating modern armored vehicles equipped with reactive armor blocks. The first warhead (64 mm HEAT) detonates the reactive armor block prematurely and the second warhead (105 mm HEAT) passes through the gap to hit the exposed armor underneath.
- TBG-7V Tanin [c.1988] 105 mm Thermobaric warhead for anti-personnel and urban warfare.
- OG-7V [c.1999] 40 mm Fragmentation warhead for anti-personnel warfare (warhead is within caliber due to limitations of international treaties).
Other warhead variants include:
- PG-7V [c.1961] Baseline 85 mm HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 260 mm RHA.
- PG-7VM [c.1969] Improved 70 mm HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 300 mm RHA.
- PG-7VS [c.1972] Improved 73 mm HEAT warhead capable of penetrating 400 mm RHA.
- PG-7VS1 [c.mid-1970s] Cheaper PG-7VS version capable of penetrating 360 mm RHA.
- GSh-7VT [c.2013] Anti-bunker warhead with cylindrical follow-through blast-fragmentation munition followed by explosively formed penetrator.
|Name||Type||Image||Weight||Explosive weight||Diameter||Penetration||Lethal radius|
|PG-7VL||Single-stage HEAT||2.6 kg (5.7 lb)||730 g 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 OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax)||64 mm (2.5 in)/105 mm (4.1 in)||600 mm RHA (with reactive armor)
750 mm RHA (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)
150 m without body armor
|TBG-7V||Thermobaric||4.5 kg (9.9 lb)||1.9 kg ОМ 100МИ-3Л + 0.25 kg A-IX-1(as thermobaric explosive booster)||105 mm (4.1 in)||10 m (30 ft)|
A 1976 U.S. Army evaluation of the weapon gave the hit probabilities on a 5-meter (16 ft) wide, 2.5-meter (8 ft 2 in) tall panel moving sideways at 4 meters per second (8.9 mph). This probability decreases when firing in a crosswind due to the unusual behaviour of the round; in an 11-kilometer-per-hour (6.8 mph) (3 m/s) wind, the gunner can not expect to get a first-round hit more than 50% of the time beyond 180 m.
History of use
Accurate firing is difficult at ranges over 300 meters; the phrase "the closer the better" has always been true.[editorializing] During the Soviet–Afghan War, the mujahideen tended to use the weapon at ranges of less than 80 meters. The RPG-7's predecessor, the RPG-2, was the main anti-tank weapon of Vietcong forces in the early stage of the Vietnam War, mainly used to counter the lightly armored M113 and other armored vehicles. This was, in turn, countered by mounting barbed wire bundles or sections of chain link fence, supported by 2 or 3 "U" shaped engineer stakes, in front of the vehicle as a portable stand-off defense.
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. 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.
The Taliban (in Afghanistan) have formed armored-vehicle hunter/killer teams that work together with as many as 15 RPGs to destroy armoured vehicles, aiming for a mobility kill by firing at the tracks to stop the tank from moving, then attempting to destroy the main armour while the tank is disabled.
- Albania 5,000 units
- Bolivia: Type 69 variant in use.
- Bulgaria: Produced locally by Arsenal Corporation as ATGL-L.
- Burkina Faso
- Burundi
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- China: Type 69 variant.
- Czech Republic
- Ecuador
- Georgia: Modified version "RPGL-7G" locally produced by STC DELTA
- Indonesia. Used by the marine corps
- Israel: Large stocks held as secondary ATW. Rounds produced locally.
- Kenya
- Liberia: Used by both the Liberian Army and guerrilla factions in the Liberian Civil Wars.
- Libya (used by both sides in the Libyan Civil War)
- Nigeria: Produced under license by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria
- North Korea
- Oman
- Pakistan: Used by Pakistan Army and paramilitary forces of Pakistan. RPG-7V version made under license by Pakistan Machine Tool Factory.
- Papua New Guinea
- Philippines: Philippine Army ATGL-L2 variant. Also signed a contract on supplying RPG-7V grenade launchers and ammunition to Philippines.
- Romania – Produced locally by SC Carfil SA from Brașov as AG-7 (Romanian: Aruncătorul de Grenade 7, Grenade Launcher 7).
- Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic: Used by the Polisario Front.
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia: Saudi army
- Sierra Leone
- Singapore - operated in 1968, and decommissioned in 1985.
- South Africa: South African National Defence Force.
- Sri Lanka
- Sudan: Made by Military Industry Corporation as the Sinar.
- Suriname: Used by the Military of Suriname
- Syria (used by all sides in the Syrian civil war)
- Thailand: RPG-7V1, and Type 69 variant in use.
- Vietnam Designated the B-41 in North Vietnamese service.
- AT-3 Sagger
- Carl Gustav recoilless rifle
- M72 LAW
- Panzerfaust 3
- Yasin (RPG)
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