Algeria acquires TOS-1 rocket launchers


The Algerian military is operating the TOS-1A thermobaric rocket launcher, with the weapon system seen during a recent exercise.

The TOS-1A Solntsepek (Sunheat) was first seen during the Majd 2017 exercise in July. According to Russian media, the Russian engineering company Omsktransmash confirmed the delivery during the Army 2017 defence exhibition in Russia last week. A source at NPO Splav, which specialises in multiple rocket launchers, also confirmed the acquisition.

According to Mena Defense, the TOS-1A has been in Algerian service for almost two years. The system has also been exported to Azerbaijan, Syria and Iraq.

The TOS-1A, using a T-72 or T-90 tank chassis, fires up to 24 220 mm rockets with thermobaric warheads, which are also known as fuel air explosives. These release a cloud of flammable liquid into the air, and use the oxygen in the atmosphere to combust it, producing a stronger and hotter blast than conventional explosives. Because they ignite the oxygen in the air, thermobaric warheads also create a partial vacuum, making them an effective weapon against caves, bunkers and tunnels.

The TOS-1A has a minimum range of 600 metres and a maximum range of six kilometres. Targets are sighted with an optical sight, laser rangefinder and ballistic computer.

The acquisition of the TOS-1A is another purchase by Algeria, which was recently confirmed as being a Buk-2ME surface-to-air missile system operator. This was also revealed during the Majd 2017 exercise. The Buk-M2E (SA-17 Grizzly) is a medium-range air defence missile designed and manufactured by Almaz-Antey. It can be used against aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles. Up to 24 targets can be engaged simultaneously. Effective range is over 20 km.

Another relatively new weapon seen in Algerian service is the Chinese PLZ45 155 mm self-propelled howitzer. 50 of these were delivered in 2014.

Recent Algerian weapons deliveries, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), include T-90 main battle tanks, Umkhonto-IR surface-to-air missiles, Su-30MKA fighter aircraft, Tigr armoured vehicles, Mokopa and 9M120/AT-9 anti-tank missiles, 9M311/SA-19 surface-to-air missiles, Fuchs armoured personnel carriers and Meko frigates.

Algeria also has some domestic capabilities, and is building armoured vehicles and soft-skinned military vehicles under license (including Fuchs armoured personnel carriers and Mercedes utility vehicles) and has installed artillery, anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns on wheeled vehicles. Earlier this month it commissioned into service another domestically manufactured corvette, the Rais Hassen Barbier.