UpFront Politics: Editor's Choice

How The Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher Is Used In Battle & History

Posted: December 8, 2017 at 1:40 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

In 1961 The Soviet Union company called Bazalt made a shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon that could be carried and fired by a single soldier. This weapon became known as the RPG-7. It is a weapon that fires rockets that are equipped with an explosive warhead. The weapon is fixed to a motor which will propel the RPG towards the target. They are equipped with fins so that they can be more stable during flight. Some of these are reloadable, and others are single use. The RPG-7 is reloadable.

These weapons can be equipped with different warheads such as HEAT, HE, and FRAG warheads. Each of these serves a different purpose in the art of warfare. The modern version and by far the most popular one (the RPG-7) can be traced back to the American made Bazooka, and the German made Panzerfaust. These were very popular during World War II. However, they were bulky and could not be easily hidden and had to have specially trained units to fire them. This, of course, has been since made up for in this particular model as just about any infantry person can shoot them. This factor alone has made the weapon very popular among many radical and guerrilla armies. When this weapon surfaced during the Vietnam War, it began to change the face and the pace of modern warfare.

Made for distance shooting and also the ability to fire it from an enclosed location (due to the minimal backfire), the weapon only weighs in at about 15 lbs and overall length just a bit over three feet long. The grenades leave the muzzle at about 115 meters per second and are effective and accurate up to about 200 meters; they have a fire rate of four rounds per minute. The first actual anti-tank weapons appeared in about the 1920s; they penetrate armor by firing from longer muzzles which allows for the velocity necessary to penetrate some of their harder targets. When they began to make an appearance in World War I, the most popular of that time was the Tankgewehr M1918. This particular anti-tank rifle led to thicker armored weapons which in turn spawned the manufacturing of anti-tank rifles explicitly made to pierce the thicker armor from a standstill position. However, as I stated earlier the older models were very difficult to conceal and transport. It took a specialized training to operate, which led to a harder time in battle due to the slowness of transportation and slowness of operation and inability to camouflage the weapons, mostly due to the sheer size and bulk of these weapons.

The RPGs that are loaded with high explosive anti-tank warheads (HEAT) are most effective against armored vehicles such as APCs or armored personnel carriers. However, the more heavily armored vehicles of the 2010 era such as main battle tanks, were too armored to be penetrated by these weapons unless certain sections of the vehicles were found to be vulnerable somehow.

Since its insurgency in 1961, there have been over nine million of these weapons produced. Making them by far the most popular and most visible of its type. It is used by more than forty countries now, including the United States. It is also used by the likes of Afghanistan, Cambodia, China (which calls it a Type 69), Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Mexico, and North Korea. Former users include East Germany and Yugoslavia.

The United States version has been called the RPG-7USA and includes an accessories rail, flip up sights, and an extended life. It is Manufactured by the Bazalt company in Russia, Defense Industries Organization in Iran, and by Airtronics in the United States. There is also a paratrooper model which has an easier breakdown and is called RPG-7D3, the design is more easily broken down and transported allowing those units more lightly armed to provide stopping power for oncoming traffic. The simplicity of use that this weapon provides makes it a much-favored weapon in heavy fire areas for those units that are maybe not specifically trained in its use. It allows for ease of fire and is pretty accurate up to enough of a distance to allow stoppage of any approaching units or vehicles, that may pose a problem. The fact that it doesn’t have to be fired from an open field also works to the advantage of urban guerrilla units.

For whatever use may be necessary at the appointed time, the fact is that this very simple but deadly weapon has forever changed the face of how battles are fought the world over. This will certainly not stop with the particular weapons available today but will only continue to evolve and grow with whatever situation may be going on at the time. It has proved to be a widely used weapon for organized and non-organized units across the globe.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.