RPG-22 light anti-armour weapon
The mandatory requirement to be met by any rocket launcher with a rocket motor is that the rocket motor should stop operating before the round leaves the launch tube so that the gas jet may stay inside the tube, otherwise gases may burn the operator. A high velocity of the round, and thus, a long range of fire may be achieved by making the launch tube longer, so that the rocket motor may operate for a longer time. However, a longer launch tube affects the manoeuvrability of the rocket launcher, makes the rocket launcher difficult to carry, makes it harder for infantrymen to mount and dismount combat vehicles, and increases the weight of the rocket launcher. Telescoping launch tubes sophisticate the design and result in extra preparations of the rocket launcher for firing.
That is why in order to reduce the length of the launch tube in the combat position Russian designers focused their efforts on developing a rocket motor, capable of facilitating a sufficient acceleration of the rocket inside a short launch tube, a relatively high muzzle velocity, as well as safety of the operator, firing the weapon from various positions. They managed to design launchers, ensuring quite a high muzzle velocity and easy handling.
The Soviet Armed Forces fielded the RPG-22 rocket in 1980. It was developed by Bazalt, based on experience in operating the RPG-18. The objective was to increase the armour penetration reduce the deployment time, and simplify the design and operation. A. A. Starostin was appointed leading designer for developing the rocket launcher, codenamed “Netto”.
The armour penetration was increased from 300 to 400 mm by increasing the calibre up to 72.5 and fitting the round with a heavier warhead.
The RPG-22 rocket
A new powder charge of the rocket motor reduced the operating time of the motor, which allowed the RPG-22 to be fitted with a shorter launch tube. An extending inner tube allowed the length of the rocket launcher in the combat position to be reduced, as compared with that of the RPG-18, down to 850 mm.
At the same time the muzzle velocity grew from 114 to 133 m/s, which in its turn increased the effective range of fire up to 205 m and the direct fire range up to 160 m.
New trigger assembly, fuse, stabiliser, and launch tube improved reliability of the rocket launcher and reduced its deployment time.
Just like the RPG-18, the RPG-22 features a high accuracy of fire.
The production licence for the RPG-22 was handed over to Bulgaria.
The RPG-18 and the RPG-22 had been manufactured in the USSR and then on Russia until 1993, after which they were withdrawn from production.