Fact file: Bazalt RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade and launcher

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The Rocket Propelled Grenade (model) 7 (RPG-7) is a widely-produced, portable, shoulder-launched, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade weapon first deployed from June 1961, when it replaced the RPG-4 and RPG-2, the latter likely derived from late-model German “Panzerfaust”.

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

Type:

Portable rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher for Zone 1 antitank defence.

Numbers:

nn

Cost:

US$3000 for a new US-manufactured launcher1

Associated project names:

Tladi (replacement)

Manufacturer:

Various, originally USSR state arsenals. Now officially Bazalt

Calibre:

40mm (launcher), 40-105mm (projectile)

Mass:

8.5kg (loaded), 2-4.5kg (projectile), 0.29-1.9kg (warhead)

Length:

0.95m (launcher), 0.925m (projectile)

Barrel length:

0.95m

Muzzle velocity:

115m/s at launch, 295m/s with booster

Rate of fire:

4-6rpm

Effective range:

300m (moving target), 500m (stationary target). Self-destructs at about 920m.

Ammunition:

The RPG-7 can fire a variety of warheads including:

  • PG-7VL 93mm 2.6kg single-stage high explosive anti tank, penetrates more than 500mm RHA

  • PG-7VR 105mm 4.5kg tandem high explosive anti tank, penetrates 600-700mm RHA

  • OG-7V 40mm 2kg anti-personnel, usually fitting with an impact/4.5 second fuze.

  • TBG-7V 105mm 4.5kg thermobaric warhead for anti-personnel and urban warfare.

Comment:

The wikipedia2 notes the launcher “is reloadable and based around a simple 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.” Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infra-red and night sights, some fitted on Picatinny rails, are also available.

“As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40-105 millimeters in diameter and weighs between 2.5 and 4.5 kilogrammes. 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. 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 stabilised 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.

According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Bulletin 3u (1977) Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher—Capabilities and Countermeasures, all projectiles have 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 ignites and propels the grenade for the next few seconds, reaching a speed of 294 meters per second. 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-metre standoff to a rear obstruction is needed for use inside rooms or fortifications. .

The wikipedia notes that 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 stabilising fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind.

 

An US Army evaluation of the weapon found a 100% hit probability at 50m on a 5×2.5m rectangle moving at four metres per second (14.4km/h). This probability decreases as the range or crosswind increases. The hit probability is 96% at 100m under the same circumstances, 51% at 200m, 22% at 300m, 9% at 400m and 4% at 500m.

 

 

 

1RPG-7, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RPG-7, accessed December 26, 2010. Manufactured by Airtronic in the US.



2RPG-7, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RPG-7, accessed December 26, 2010.