Thursday, October 28, 2010

Popular Russian weapons part 2: the RPG

If Hollywood action movies and video game villians are to be believed than no self respecting terrorist or freedom fighter seeking to bring about the downfall of the United States or any other imperialist power would not leave the house without two things: an AK 47 and his trusty Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher. This device has attained similar notoriety among the military forces of the free world due to its ease of use and the simple fact that there are so damned many of them in the hands of every respectable black market arms dealer. So it seemed fitting to dedicate this post to Russia's fourth greatest cultural contribution behind vodka, depressing writers, and the AK 47 assault rifle.
Just like the ever present and ever famous assault rifle the idea for the RPG (or ручной противотанковый гранатомёm) was created during the Second World War. Before the advent of the launcher the RPG was a handheld anti tank grenade but with the advent of the American bazooka and German Panzerfaust the Soviet adapted and the earliest rocket model, the RPG-2 was born. It utilized the science behind shaped charges, which attempted to penetrate tank armor by focusing a massive blast on a small area creating a stream of super heated metal inside the tank that would kill the crew. The Soviets continued to develop the RPG until the current model, the RPG-7 was created. To this day the RPG-7 is the most widely used RPG in the world and is the favored anti tank weapon for low tech militaries and insurgency groups, proving once and for all that the Soviets could create products that were superior to the decadent West.
Since the RPG-7 is incredibly popular due to its ease of use and availability of supplies it has become the object of intense study and experimentation. Armor and active defence systems have been created soley for protection against the RPG. With current advances in armor the RPG has lost some of its effectiveness. That being said, it is still very effective against lightly armored vihicles and large bodies of troops. Primary ammunition consists of two types of warheads: High Explosive (HE) rounds which detonate on impact and are used against troops and fixed positions, and High Explosive Anti Tank (HEAT) rounds which act as a shaped charge against armored vehicles.
While the RPG 7 is the most widely used weapon of its kind around the world the Russian military still utilizes variations of this weapon as their primary anti tank and anti personel weapon for their infantry. As a result many variations of the weapon have been created such as the RPG 29 "Vampir" which uses a fuel bomb as a warhead producing a much larger blast or the RPG 26 "Aglen" which is a disposable launcher that can penetrate over 440 millimeters of tank armor or a meter of concrete. So remember, when an enemy terrorist pops out from behind a bunker in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 with a rocket launcher on his shoulder remember to thank the Russians for this important and infamous contribution to military and popular culture.

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