RPO-A Shmel

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RPO-A Shmel
RPO-A missile and launcher.jpg
RPO-Shmel and Launcher
Type Rocket launcher
Place of origin
 Soviet Union
Service history
In service Late 1980s
Used by See Operators
Wars See Service history
Production history
Designer KBP
Designed 1980s
Manufacturer KBP
Produced Late 1980s
Variants RPO-A, RPO-Z, RPO-D, Shmel-M, MGK Bur
Weight 11 kg
Length Launcher: 920 mm, Rocket: 700mm

Caliber 93 mm
Muzzle velocity 125 ±5 m/s
Effective firing range 20m - 1000m (sighting range is 600m), RPO-M is 1700m (sighting range is 800m)
Sights iron

The RPO-A Shmel (Russian: РПО-А Шмель, tr. RPO-A Bumblebee) is a man-portable rocket launcher, although it is classified as a flamethrower (Russian Реактивный Пехотный Огнемет / Reaktivnyy Pekhotnyy Ognemet, 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 that 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 / Zazhigatel'nyy, Incendiary) designed to spread fire and ignite targets. Finally, there is a smoke-producing warhead (Rus. дымовой / Dymovoy, Smoke) offered, the RPO-D.


RPO-A Shmel (fourth from the bottom) with comparable Soviet/Russian rocket launchers

Specifications provided by Jane's:[1]

  • Calibre: 93 mm
  • Length:
    • Launcher: 920 mm
    • Rocket: 700 mm
  • Weight:
    • Single weapon: 11 kg
    • Transit pack of two: 22 kg
  • Sighting range: 600 m
  • Range:
    • Minimum: 20 m
    • Maximum: 1,000 m
  • Initial velocity: 125 ±5 m/s
  • Warhead:
    • 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 / Povyshennoy Dal'nosti i Moshchnosti — "enhanced range and lethality") and is produced for the local and export markets. Adopted on 24 December 2003.[2][3][4][5][6]
MGK Bur (Rus. Малогабаритный Гранатомётный Комплекс "Бур" / Malogabaritnyy Granatomotnyy Kompleks "Bur" — Compact Grenade-launching System "Auger") is a 62 mm variant with reusable launch tube.[7][8] Maximum range is 950 meters, sighting (with day telescopic sights) - 650 meters. The system weighs less than 5 kg and the reusable tube is good for at least 500 rounds. As of October 2014, it has been accepted into service and its serial production has been started.[9]

Service history[edit]

RPO weapons have seen use by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and by both the Russian and the separatist forces in the First and Second Chechen Wars.[citation needed] On 9 August 2014, during the Donbass War, the Ukrainian border checkpoint of Milove was attacked using RPO flamethrowers. The main building was hit by five incendiary rockets.[10]


Map with RPO-A operators in blue and former operators in red

Current operators[edit]

Former operator[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gander, Terry (2001-01-05). "RPO-A Shmel rocket infantry flame-thrower". Land Forces. Jane's. Archived from the original on July 9, 2006. 
  2. ^ http://kbptula.ru/eng/atgw/shmelm.htm Archived March 27, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ "Modern Firearms". Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  4. ^ David Crane (19 July 2006). "New RPO Shmel-M Infantry Rocket Flamethrower Man-Packable Thermobaric Weapon". DefenseReview.com (DR): An online tactical technology and military defense technology magazine with particular focus on the latest and greatest tactical firearms news (tactical gun news), tactical gear news and tactical shooting news. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Rocket Flamethrower Shmel-M (Огнемет Шмель-М)". YouTube. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  6. ^ "ОАО "Конструкторское бюро приборостроения" - РПО ПДМ-А Шмель-М". Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  7. ^ (English) http://kbptula.ru/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=309&Itemid=653&lang=en#spoiler_0
  8. ^ "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. 
  9. ^ "ТАСС: Армия и ОПК - В Туле налажен серийный выпуск гранатометов "Бур"". ТАСС. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  10. ^ "Погранзаставу в Меловом обстреляли из огнеметов с территории РФ". Liga News. 9 August 2014. 
  11. ^ ":: Rosyjska broń dla Fidżi" (in Polish). altair.pl. Retrieved 2016-02-21. 
  12. ^ "Armament of the Georgian Army". Georgian Army. Retrieved 2007-06-25. 
  13. ^ https://twitter.com/green_lemonnn/status/677294880771719168
  14. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AayuHEMfz1A?t=157

External links[edit]