Russian Interior Ministry Buys 120 Portable Flame Rocket Launchers

The Moscow Times May. 05 2016 17:49

Russia’s Interior Ministry have purchased 120 Shmel portable flame rocket launchers, used by Soviet troops in Afghanistan and by Russian troops in Chechnya, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Thursday.

The model bought by the ministry suggests that the weapon is designed for use in urban areas, though it could be also used to destroy buildings, transport and lightly armored vehicles in the field and in mountainous areas, according to

Russian news agency Interfax quoted Alexander Mikhailov, a retired Russian general and a veteran of the special services as saying that the flame rocket launchers were likely purchased for the newly created Russian National Guard.

In April, President Vladimir Putin created the National Guard to fight extremism, terrorism and to participate in territorial defense. He appointed the former chief of his personal security as its head.

It includes OMON and other rapid response teams, which were previously part of Russia’s Interior Ministry.

The weapon can destroy targets within 50 square meters in open spaces and within 80 square meters inside and will be used against “biological objects,” reported.

It can also hit targets located at a distance of 700 meters and is nicknamed “a sniper flamethrower” by the Russian military.

According to a draft law, submitted to the State Duma by Putin on April 5, the National Guard will be allowed to use their weapons without warning “if it would help to save lives.” In other cases, the guardsmen will have to give a warning before opening fire.



RPO-A Shmel

The RPO-A Shmel (Russian: РПО-А Шмель, tr. RPO-A Bumblebee) is a man-portable rocket launcher, although it is classified as a flamethrower (Russian Реактивный Пехотный Огнемет / Reaktivnyy Pekhotnyy Ognemet, Reactive Infantry Flamethrower) by the manufacturer, KBP, Tula.

The Shmel is designed, produced and exported by the Russian Federation and previously by the Soviet Union. It entered service with the Soviet Armed Forces at the end of the 1980s as the successor for the RPO Rys. Source

Rocket infantry flame-throwers (RPO-A) Shmel

rpo-aRocket infantry flame-throwers (RPO-A) Shmel

Rocket flame-throwers, which are basically disposable mulls-purpose rocket launchers, have become yet another type of man-portable recoilless weapons. They inherited their name from jet flamethrowers, used in WWI and WWII. Later on flame-throwers became almost extinct due to a short range of flame-throwing and considerable losses of the flame along the trajectory.

When new explosives, featuring sever high-explosive and thermal effects, were developed in the 1980s, designers were able to come up with a man-portable recoilless weapon firing multi-effect munitions. The RPO Rys infantry rocket flame-thrower was the first such weapon, developed in the USSR. Later on it was succeeded by the RPO Shmel disposable flame-thrower, developed by the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau.

The Shmel flame-thrower is intended to boost combat capabilities of Army units. It is designed to kill enemy manpower and weapon systems inside various protective shelters, destroy fortifications, render transportation and lightly armoured vehicles ineffective, as well as produce on-target incendiary effects and create smoke screens. The flame-thrower can be fitted with the -following three types of warheads: the RPO-A thermobaric warhead, the RPO-Z incendiary warhead, and the RPO-D smoke warhead. The Shmel flame-thrower features high combat capabilities, a simple design, and an outstanding reliability.

The expendable launch tube (which is also a sealed container for storage and transportation) accommodates a capsule — a corresponding warhead and a gunpowder engine. The launch tube is made of fibreglass. It mounts a trigger assembly with a safety and iron sights, comprising a foresight and a pop-up range-calibrated dioptric rear sight. The flame-thrower can be equipped with an optical sight. The standard set includes two loaded RPO launchers, joined together to be carried as a back-pack weighing a total of 24 kg.

When fired, the capsule/warhead is propelled forward by the momentum. It is fin-stabilised. The unique design of the projectile ensures a minimal variation of muzzle velocities and a high rate of fire, which facilitates a high hit probability against an IFV at a range of 400 m. The effect of the warhead is comparable to that of a 152 mm high-explosive/fragmentation artillery round. The flame-thrower is shoulder-fired. It can be fired from rooms with a space of more than 60 nr and with obstacles behind the firer.


rpo-a_2The warhead rocket infantry flame-thrower “Shmel” (RPO-A)

Specifications SR.3 «Vikhr» assault rifle

Calibre, mm93
Weight, kg12
Length, mm920
Range of fire, m

Rocket infantry flame thrower RPO PDM-A Shmel-M

rpo_pdm-aRocket infantry flame thrower RPO PDM-A Shmel-M

The new Shmel-M infantry rocket flame-thrower was developed by the Tula-based KBP Instrument Design Bureau in the mid 2000s lo replace the Shmel flamethrower, It is basically a deep modernisation of the RPO-A with a considerably greater range of fire and a much more powerful round. The maximum range of fire was increased from 1000 to 1700 m while the effective range of fire grew from 600 to 800 m. The warhead yield of the new flame-thrower is the equivalent of 5-6 kg of TNT, which is comparable to the hgh-explosion effect of a 152-155 mm artillery projectile. At the same time the weight of the flame-thrower was reduced form 12 to 8.8 kg. The flame-thrower was designated RPO-PDM-A Shmel-M (where ‘PDM’ stands for ‘Povyshennoi Dalnosti i Moshchnosti’ or enhanced range and power).

Just like the Shmel flame-thrower, the Shmel-M is a heavy multi-purpose man-portable recoilless weapon of the rocket launcher type. It is designed to boost combat capabilities and tactical independence of Army units. The Shmel-M efficiently kills enemy manpower and weapon systems inside various protective shelters, destroys fortifications, and renders ineffective soft-skin and thin-skin vehicles.

Unlike its predecessor, the RPO-PDM-A features a rocket motor integrated with its warhead. It has a smoothbore fibreglass launch tube, which also serves as a storage container. The flame-thrower undergoes the final assembly at the manufacturing plant and is delivered to military units ready for use. For firing the launch tube is fitted with a trigger assembly and an optical sight. Two loaded launch tubes and one trigger assembly with ал optical sight are joined together to be carried by one man as a back-pack weighing a total of 19 kg.

The Shmel-M flame-thrower features high combat capabilities a sample design and an outstanding reliability.


rpo_pdm-a_2.jpgThe warhead rocket infantry flame-thrower RPO PDM-A Shmel-M

Specifications RPO PDM-A Shmel-M

Calibre, mm 90
Weight, kg 8.8
Length, mm 940
Range of fire, m
effecbve. 800

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