Rocket infantry flame-throwers (RPO-A) Shmel

Rocket infantry flame-throwers (RPO-A) ShmelRocket 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.

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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.

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


Specifications SR.3 «Vikhr» assault rifle

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

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