RPO (rocket launcher)

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The RPO ( Russian РПО, Реактивный пехотный огнемёт , "reactive flamethrower of the infantry") is a light, portable rocket launcher from the KBP company that fires an incendiary, blinding or explosive charge. The launch tube can only be used once; it is thrown away after use. The RPO is used to combat groups of infantry, buildings, bunkers and lightly armored vehicles.


RPO-A launch tube and missile.

The first model of the RPO series, the RPO Rys ( Russian РПО "Рысь", German lynx ) was introduced to the Soviet Army in 1979 . The system replaced the old flamethrowers there . The warhead of the RPO missile was filled with 4 kg of napalm . Upon impact, the fire mixture sprayed over an area of ​​3 × 40 m, which then burned for 1-2 minutes. The system was used on a large scale in Afghanistan against the mujahideen and proved to be extremely effective (because of this, it was nicknamed Shaitan Truba ("devil's pipe ") by the mujahideen ). The RPO Rys has now been retired and replaced by the RPO-A.

The successor system RPO-A “Schmel” ( Russian РПО-А “Шмель”, German Hummel ) was introduced in 1984. This system is equipped with a thermobaric warhead. The thermobaric active charge consists of 2.1 kg of isopropyl nitrate (IPN). This warhead creates a great pressure and heat effect. The explosive power is roughly equivalent to that of a standard 122 mm artillery shell . The RPO-A was also used in Chechnya . The detonation inflicts burns, vascular damage and severe damage to internal organs on the opponents. The RPO-A is used to fight covered weapons in urban areas and to destroy shelters and lightly armored vehicles.

The later introduced RPO-Z is equipped with an incendiary warhead. The incendiary charge consists of 20 pellets filled with incendiary material. During the detonation, an area of ​​4 × 30 m is set on fire. The duration of the fire is 5–7 minutes. With the RPO-Z, buildings, grounds and oil tanks can be set on fire.

The RPO-D is equipped with a smoke-generating warhead. A thick wall of smoke 55–90 meters in length is created in one shot. The smoke effect persists for 1.5–2 minutes.

In December 2003 the RPO Schmel-M PDM-A (short: RPO Schmel-M) was introduced to the Russian armed forces. The explosive power is said to have increased by 50% compared to the previous models (corresponding to 5.5 kg of TNT) with a weight reduction of 36% to approx. 7.6 kg. The caliber is said to have been changed from 93 mm to 90 mm. An improved drive is said to have increased the operational range against armored vehicles to 450 m and the range to 1,700 m.

The computer-aided training system for the variants RPO-A, RPO-D and RPO-Z is called 9F700-2 .

Overview of RPO rocket launchers

Introductory year 1979 1984 1986 1986 2003
caliber 95 mm 93 mm 93 mm 93 mm 90 mm
System weight 11.3 kg 11.1 kg 11.0 kg 11.3 kg 8.8 kg
Weight rocket 8.0 kg 6.5 kg unknown unknown 7.6 kg
Weight warhead 4.0 kg 2.1 kg 2.1 kg 2.3 kg 3.2 kg
Type warhead Fire (napalm) Thermobar fire Smoke ( phosphorus ) Thermobar
Operational range 300 m 600 m 1000 m 1000 m 1700 m

Individual evidence

  1. Oruzhie.info: РПО «Рысь» - реактивный пехотный огнемет (Russian)
  2. a b c Shmel. Infantry rocket-assisted flamethrower. In: kbptula.ru. KBP Tula, accessed on March 1, 2015 (English).
  3. David Crane: New RPO Shmel-M Infantry Rocket Flamethrower Man-Packable Thermobaric Weapon. In: defensereview.com. Defensereview, July 27, 2006, accessed on March 1, 2015 .


Ilya Shaydurov: Russian close combat equipment: types, technology, data . 1st edition. 2017, ISBN 978-3-613-03974-2 , pp. 239 ff .

Web links

Commons : RPO-A  - collection of images, videos and audio files