Grenade launcher systems
The role of combat elements and independent fighting groups in attaining success on the battlefield has been continuously increasing, as experience in combat operations in recent local wars and conflicts shows. In combat, soldiers have to effectively engage hostile weapon emplacements organized in various man-made and natural shelters. The number and types of these shelters sharply increase if combat operations are conducted in populated or in mountainous forest areas. In these conditions, it appears next to impossible to defeat the enemy by small arms only.
The decisive role here is played by widely known antitank grenade launchers which have displayed excellent performance. Thus, for example, the PG-7VL round intended for firing from the RPG-7V grenade launcher is capable of engaging current tanks and other armored and soft-skinned materiel, fire emplacements and manpower located in brickwork and reinforced concrete buildings and structures or in log-and-earth shelters.
Initially designed and developed as last-ditch anti-tank defense weapons, grenade launchers have now acquired markedly new properties. It should be noted that at present and in the near future, an antitank grenade launcher equipped with a tandem warhead can effectively engage tanks with add-on and built-in ERA. Such rounds include the PG-7VR round (designed to be fired from the RPG-7V2 grenade launcher) which is fitted with a 105mm high-explosive tandem warhead.
At the same time, there is a tendency to considerably expand missions accomplished by a gunner. Above all, it is reliable and effective engagement of weapon emplacements located in natural and man-made shelters. Often, such a weapon emplacement can survive even a long-time indirect shelling. However, when adversaries are separated by tens of meters, employment of artillery is impossible. In these conditions, the gunner can fire only one round without changing the fire position. Taking into account the range and accuracy of a grenade launcher firing, it is necessary to obtain a direct hit into an embrasure or have a powerful munition capable of defeating the weapon emplacement at a miss of 1.5 to 2 m. This problem was recently solved by JSC “SPA “Bazalt” in cooperation with domestic defense industry institutes and enterprises.
The fuel/air explosive munitions have been known for a long time. Only the development of the so-called thermobaric compounds made it possible to produce small-caliber fuel/air munitions. The characteristics of the newly developed TBG-7V round for the RPG-7V2 grenade launcher is unique.
The effectiveness of the round action is comparable with the explosion of a 122mm high-explosive fragmentation artillery projectile. It is a very powerful and efficient weapon of a motor rifle platoon. The warhead explosion produces a high-temperature field with a high incendiary effect, and simultaneously forms a powerful shock wave and splinters with a velocity 50 per cent greater than that of a conventionally filled artillery projectile. In the event of a miss, the joint action of all these factors and the “flooding” effect of explosion products ensure the defeat of unsheltered enemy personnel at a radius of up to 10m from the impact point, as well as manpower in trenches, slits and other shelters. The explosion of a thermobaric munition in a confined space has a high-explosive effect by 50 to 100 percent higher than that on open terrain.
The designers of the TBG-7V round were the first to develop a circular cumulative charge formed on impact owing to the programmed deformation of the warhead case and the explosive. As a result, a hole of 150 to 170 mm in diameter is made in homogeneous steel of lightly armored vehicles, 15 to 20 mm thick, and explosion products penetrate inside and build up a pressure that tears off hatch doors.
Tests have shown that when firing at pillboxes, even if a grenade explodes at a distance of 1.5 to 2 m from the embrasure, it build up a pressure in the pillbox that incapacitates manpower, demolishes equipment and damages weapons. A similar effect is observed during a grenade explosion on the parapet of a standard fire trench. So, firing the RPG-7V2 grenade launcher with the TBG-7V round can effectively engage weapon emplacements even at an embrasure miss of 1.5 to 2 m. The warhead design has been patented and has no foreign equivalents.
Concurrently with the development and series production of the TBG-7V round, Bazalt specialists designed the OG-7V fragmentation round. Its specific feature is the high firing accuracy and formation of about 1,000 optimal weight high-speed splinters that are capable of inflicting damage upon personnel wearing individual protection means.
During the development of the TBG-7V and OG-7V rounds, the RPG-7V2 grenade launcher was also modified. It was provided with a sighting device which, in combination with the standard PGO-7V3 sight, ensures a sighting range of up to 700 m with OG-7V rounds and up to 550 m with TBG-7V rounds.
To increase the antitank grenade launcher combat efficiency, Bazalt specialists developed the new generation of the RPG-29 grenade launcher with the PG-29V round. Its fire range is 500 m. RPG-29 is equipped with an optical sight and a nigh vision device. The PG-29V round is fitted with a tandem warhead capable of defeating any current tanks including those equipped with ERA. Recently the GK-1 antitank grenade launcher system equipped with a mount and an optoelectronic fire control unit has been developed. It makes it possible to significantly increase the hit probability when firing at typical targets, particularly mobile ones, out to ranges 700 m.
In-service antitank rocket grenades RPG-26 and RPG-27 with expendable launchers are highly reputed in Russia and abroad. Being in essence non-organic attached fire support weapons, they can be employed on a mass scale used by any element personnel determining the success of defensive or offensive actions.
In 2005 development of the RMG rocket grenade with a disposable launcher was successfully completed. The grenade is fitted with a tandem multifunctional destructive effect warhead ensuring blast and high-explosive anti-tank effects. The warhead comprises a HEAT precursor to ensure obstacle penetration and a main high-explosive warhead fitted with a selectively functioning fuze. Depending on the obstacle hardness and the hole made in it by the HEAT warhead, the main warhead explodes either on the obstacle surface, or inside the obstacle or behind it. The tandem warhead has no equivalents and ensures high efficiency of action against obstacles of different types and manpower located in behind-obstacle space.
In 2006 development of the RPG-28 antitank rocket grenade with a disposable launcher was accomplished. The system boasts an increased efficiency due to the use of a 125mm tandem warhead designed to defeat any current and advanced tanks.
In addition to antitank and assault close-in weapons, SPA “Bazalt” also develops rounds for antipersonnel automatic grenade launchers. The 30mm VOG-17M round is intended for use with the AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher for engaging hostile unsheltered manpower and fire emplacements.
The grenade launcher allows for single-shot firing or firing in short bursts (up to 5 shots) and in long bursts (up to 10 shots). The round is fitted with a point instantaneous fuze to ensure warhead reliable functioning on impacting obstacles of different types including functioning on snow and water surfaces. High efficiency of a fragmentation action is achieved through the use in the grenade design of pre-notched fragments.
The Russian Armed Forces nomenclature includes the following close-in grenade launcher systems:
In 2012 three models of ammo developed by SPA “Bazalt” were adopted for service by the Russian Federation MoD:
In 2012 in addition to the above three items of weaponry adopted for service, the RPG-28I and RMG I systems were developed fitted with inert warheads intended for training.
Close-in grenade launcher systems developed by SPA “Bazalt” and adopted for service by the Russian Federation Armed Forces are capable of accomplishing any combat missions the RF Armed Forces subunits mace.
To meet the requirements of Foreign Customer (Jordan) Technical Assignment, SPA “Bazalt” has developed the RPG-32 grenade launcher system equipped with an optical sight and a set of ammo comprising the PG-32V antitank round and the TBG-32V thermobaric round.
Today, Bazalt and MoD are conducting joint work aimed at development of and advanced close-in grenade launcher/flamethrower system to be integrated in the soldier’s equipment. Research and technical undertaking provided by the enterprise in the course of R&D work after the year 2000 is now used for conducting work aimed at providing for high performance characteristics of the advanced grenade launcher system meeting the RF MoD current requirements.
Theoretical and experimental studies conducted by SPA “Bazalt” confirm the possibility of creating grenade launcher systems featuring high level of unification and providing for accomplishing essentially all types of combat missions encountered on the modern battlefield.
Hand grenades are one of the most simple and efficient kinds of ammo found wide use in military conflicts as a means of close-in engaging of hostile manpower. High efficiency of action, reliability and simplicity of use, the soldier’s optimal weight load, production economical efficiency are the main specific features of hand grenades.
In the late 70s SPA “Bazalt” developed defensive (RGO) and offensive (RGN) hand grenades adopted for service in 1981.
The RGO and RGN grenades are fitted with the UDZ time-and-percussion primer ensuring a high reliability of grenade functioning on grenade impacting an obstacle, as well as safety in service handling. The RGO and RGN grenades have a body with semi-finished fragment, on grenade exploding a large number of pre-formed splinters are formed. The RGN grenade boasts a improved safety ensured for a thrower as compared to the previously developed grenades RG-42 and RGD-5.
According to experts estimates in the 1980s, in terms of its technical characteristics the RGO and RGN grenades are unrivaled in the world.
Practice Training Equipment
So far, SPA “Bazalt” has developed radically new equipment intended for training operators in grenade launcher firing. This equipment received the name Practice Training Equipment (PTE).
The new training systems are virtually dimensional replicas of standard grenade launchers with a sub-caliber tube and a small-size simulation grenade fitted with a rocket motor and a warhead comprising a marker. Simulation grenade ballistics and accuracy of fire are similar to those of live grenades at all sighting ranges. It makes it possible to provide training with the application of rules adopted for live firing in all possible conditions.
Gas/flame jet formed at firing in combination with a sound effect provides for very close similarity to live grenade functioning. The simulation grenade design allows its use against real targets (tanks, APCs, IFVs) including moving ones. The PUI launcher allows for the system multi-use, its barrel life is 300 shots.
The newly developed practice training equipment is intended not only for initial training, but also for improving and maintaining required skills in grenade launcher firing, particularly for mastering skills in correct taking account of different firing conditions. The simulation grenade cost is 3 to 4 times lower than that of the live grenade, they can successfully replace inert rounds as training aids.
Thus today SPA “Bazalt” is willing and ready to meet the needs of Customer as to increasing by ten times of drill firings number and to supply the required quantities of the previously developed ammo and practice training equipment to troops which will make it possible to cut the time required for crew training and to improve training firing effectiveness and safety.