RPG-7
RPG-7 detached.jpg
An RPG-7 launcher (top) with a Bulgarian PG-7G inert training warhead and booster (bottom)
TypeRocket-propelled grenade launcher[1]
Place of originSoviet Union
Service history
In service1961–present
Used bySee Users
WarsSee Conflicts
Production history
DesignerBazalt
Designed1958
ManufacturerBazalt and Degtyarev plant (Russian Federation)
Unit cost$2500
Produced1958–present
No. built9,000,000+[2]
VariantsRPG-7V2 (current model)
RPG-7D3 (paratrooper)
Type 69 RPG (China)
PSRL-1 (Airtronic USA)[3]
Specifications
Mass6.3 kg (13.9 lb) (without a telescopic sight)
7 kg (15.4 lb) (with PGO-7)
Length950 mm (37.4 in)

Cartridge85mm
Caliber40 mm
Muzzle velocity115 m/s (boost)
300 m/s (flight)
Effective firing range330 m (PG-7V)
Maximum firing range700 m (OG-7V)
(self detonates at ≈920 m (1,000 yd))
SightsPGO-7 (2.7×), UP-7V Telescopic sight and 1PN51/1PN58 night vision sights
Red dot reflex sight

The RPG-7 (Russian: РПГ-7, Ручной Противотанковый Гранатомёт, romanized: Ruchnoy Protivotankoviy Granatomyot) is a portable, reusable, unguided, shoulder-launched, anti-tank, rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The RPG-7 and its predecessor, the RPG-2, were designed by the Soviet Union, and are now manufactured by the Russian company Bazalt. The weapon has the GRAU index (Russian armed forces index) 6G3.

The ruggedness, simplicity, low cost, and effectiveness of the RPG-7 has made it the most widely used anti-armor weapon in the world. Currently around 40 countries use the weapon; it is manufactured in several variants by nine countries. It is popular with irregular and guerrilla forces. The RPG has been used in almost all conflicts across the world since the mid-1960s from the Vietnam War to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War.

Widely produced, the most commonly seen major variations are the RPG-7D (десантник – desantnikparatrooper) model, which can be broken into two parts for easier carrying; and the lighter Chinese Type 69 RPG. DIO of Iran manufactures RPG-7s with olive green handguards, H&K pistol grips, and a Commando variant.

The RPG-7 was first delivered to the Soviet Army in 1961 and deployed at squad level. It replaced the RPG-2, having clearly out-performed the intermediate RPG-4 design during testing. The current model produced by the Russian Federation is the RPG-7V2, capable of firing standard and dual high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds, high explosive/fragmentation, and thermobaric warheads (see below), with a UP-7V sighting device fitted (used in tandem with the standard 2.7× PGO-7 optical sight) to allow the use of extended range ammunition. The RPG-7D3 is the equivalent paratrooper model. Both the RPG-7V2 and RPG-7D3 were adopted by the Russian Ground Forces in 2001.

Description

RPG-7 V2
RPG-7 V2

The launcher is reloadable and based around a steel tube, 40 millimetres in diameter, 950 millimetres long, and weighing 7 kilograms. The middle of the tube is wood wrapped to protect the user from heat and the end is flared. Sighting is usually optical with a back-up iron sight, and passive infra-red and night sights are also available. The launchers designated RPG-7N1 and RPG-7DN1 can thus mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN51[4] and the launchers designated RPG-7N2 and RPG-7DN2 can mount the multi-purpose night vision scope 1PN58.[5]

As with similar weapons, the grenade protrudes from the launch tubes. It is 40–105 millimetres in diameter and weighs between 2.0[6][7][8] and 4.5 kilograms. It is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, giving it an initial speed of 115 metres per second, and creating a cloud of light grey-blue smoke that can give away the position of the shooter.[9] The rocket motor[10] ignites after 10 metres and sustains flight out to 500 metres at a maximum velocity of 295 metres per second. The grenade is stabilized by two sets of fins that deploy in-flight: one large set on the stabilizer pipe to maintain direction and a smaller rear set to induce rotation. The grenade can fly up to 1,100 metres; the fuze sets the maximum range, usually 920 metres.[11]

Propulsion system

An Afghan National Army soldier firing an RPG-7, 2013
An Afghan National Army soldier firing an RPG-7, 2013

According to the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Bulletin 3u (1977) Soviet RPG-7 Antitank Grenade Launcher—Capabilities and Countermeasures, the RPG-7 munition has two sections: a "booster" section and a "warhead and sustainer motor" section. These must be assembled into the ready-to-use grenade. The booster consists of a "small strip powder charge" that serves to propel the grenade out of the launcher; the sustainer motor then ignites and propels the grenade for the next few seconds, giving it a top speed of 294 metres per second (660 mph). The TRADOC bulletin provides anecdotal commentary that the RPG-7 has been fired from within buildings, which agrees with the two-stage design. It is stated that only a 2-metre standoff to a rear obstruction is needed for use inside rooms or fortifications. The fins not only provide drag stabilization, but are designed to impart a slow rotation to the grenade.

Due to the configuration of the RPG-7 sustainer/warhead section, it responds counter-intuitively to crosswinds. A crosswind will tend to exert pressure on the stabilizing fins, causing the projectile to turn into the wind (see Weathervane effect). While the rocket motor is still burning, this will cause the flight path to curve into the wind. The TRADOC bulletin explains aiming difficulties for more distant moving targets in crosswinds at some length. Similar to a recoilless rifle the RPG-7 has no noticeable recoil, the only effect during firing being that of the sudden lightness of the launcher as the rocket leaves the tube.[citation needed]

Ammunition

Rocket-propelled grenades
Inside of an RPG's three sections.  I) The head contains  triggerconductive coneaerodynamic fairingconical linerbodyexplosiveconductordetonator II) The rocket motor consists of nozzle blocknozzlemotor bodypropellantmotor rearignition primer III) The booster charge includes fincartridgechargeturbinetracerfoam wad
Inside of an RPG's three sections.
I) The head contains
  1. trigger
  2. conductive cone
  3. aerodynamic fairing
  4. conical liner
  5. body
  6. explosive
  7. conductor
  8. detonator
II) The rocket motor consists of
  1. nozzle block
  2. nozzle
  3. motor body
  4. propellant
  5. motor rear
  6. ignition primer
III) The booster charge includes
  1. fin
  2. cartridge
  3. charge
  4. turbine
  5. tracer
  6. foam wad

The RPG-7 can fire a variety of warheads for anti-armor (HEAT, PG-Protivotankovaya Granata) or anti-personnel (HE, OG-Oskolochnaya Granata) purposes, usually fitting with an impact (PIBD) and a 4.5 second fuze. Armor penetration is warhead dependent and ranges from 30 to 60 centimetres of RHA; one warhead, the PG-7VR, is a 'tandem charge' device, used to defeat reactive armor with a single shot.[citation needed]

Current production ammunition for the RPG-7V2 consists of four main types:

Other warhead variants include:

Specifications

Manufacturer specifications for the RPG-7V1.[16][17]

Name Type Image Weight Explosive weight[18][19][20] Diameter Penetration Lethal radius
PG-7VL Single-stage HEAT
RPG PG 7VL.png
2.6 kg (5.7 lb) 730 g OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 93 mm (3.7 in) >500 mm (20 in) RHA
PG-7VR Tandem charge HEAT
RPG PG 7R.png
4.5 kg (9.9 lb) ?/1.43 kg OKFOL (95% HMX + 5% wax) 64 mm (2.5 in)/105 mm (4.1 in) 600 mm RHA (with reactive armor)

750 mm RHA[21] (without reactive armor)

OG-7V Fragmentation
RPG OG 7VL.png
2 kg (4 lb) 210 g (7.4 oz) A-IX-1 40 mm (1.6 in) 7 m (23 ft) (vs. body armor)[22][23]
TBG-7V Thermobaric
RPG TBG 7V.png
4.5 kg (9.9 lb) 1.9 kg ОМ 100МИ-3Л + 0.25 kg A-IX-1(as thermobaric explosive booster) 105 mm (4.1 in) 10 m (30 ft)

Hit probabilities

Range
m (ft)
Percent
50 (160) 100
100 (330) 96
200 (660) 51
300 (980) 22
400 (1,300) 9
500 (1,600) 4

A 1976 U.S. Army evaluation of the weapon gave the hit probabilities on a 5-by-2.5-metre (16.4 ft × 8.2 ft) panel moving sideways at 4 m/s (8.9 mph).[24] Crosswinds cause additional issues as the round steers into the wind; in an 11 km/h (6.8 mph) (3 m/s) wind, firing at a stationary tank sized target, the gunner cannot expect to get a first-round hit more than 50% of the time at 180 m.[25]

History of use

The RPG-7 was first used in 1967 by Egypt during the Six-Day War, and by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War, but it did not see widespread usage in Vietnam until the following year.[26]

Accurate firing is difficult at ranges over 200 metres. During the Soviet–Afghan War, the mujahideen tended to use the weapon at ranges of less than 80 metres.[citation needed]

The RPG-7 was used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2005, most notably in Lurgan, County Armagh, where it was used against British Army observation posts and the towering military base at Kitchen Hill in the town.[27] The IRA also used them in Catholic areas of West Belfast against British Army armoured personnel carriers and Army forward operating bases (FOB). Beechmount Avenue in Belfast became known as "RPG Avenue" after attacks on British troops.[28]

In Mogadishu, Somalia, RPG-7s were used to down two U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopters in 1993.[29][30]

Users

A Bulgarian soldier with an ATGL-L (Bulgarian copy of the RPG-7) equipped with a red dot reflex sight.
A Bulgarian soldier with an ATGL-L (Bulgarian copy of the RPG-7) equipped with a red dot reflex sight.
A Romanian soldier with an AG-7 (licensed built RPG-7).
A Romanian soldier with an AG-7 (licensed built RPG-7).
Iranian manufactured RPG-7 launcher, uncovered in Lebanon, by the IDF.
Iranian manufactured RPG-7 launcher, uncovered in Lebanon, by the IDF.

Non-state users

Conflicts

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1960s

1970s

1980s

1990s

2000s

2010s

2020s

See also

References

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Bibliography