TechRussian attack near Avdiivka. Ukrainians destroy the TOS-1A system

Russian attack near Avdiivka. Ukrainians destroy the TOS‑1A system

The Russian TOS-1A system with an additional cage on the launcher just before destruction.
The Russian TOS-1A system with an additional cage on the launcher just before destruction.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Ukrainian Front
3:58 PM EDT, October 31, 2023

In recent weeks, there has been an uptick in Russian attempts to envelop the Ukrainian fighters battling in Avdiivka. Due to the solid fortifications of the area, the Russians resorted to using fearsome thermobaric rocket launchers - the TOS-1A.

The Russians, stationed near Avdiivka, suffered significant losses in military equipment. However, they succeeded in advancing towards the railway line in the north. It's important to note that the Ukrainians have heavily fortified this area since 2014, constructing a dense network of tunnels to connect hidden defensive positions.

Launching an attack in such circumstances bears similarity to the hardships faced by the Ukrainians when assaulting Russian fortifications in the Zaporizhzhia region. To tackle this, the Russians moved their rare thermobaric rocket launchers, the TOS-1A, to the frontline. These launchers are designed to be effective against enemies entrenched in fortifications.

It comes as no surprise that these systems have become a prime target for the Ukrainians, particularly those from the 103rd Territorial Defense Brigade. In this instance, they attacked the TOS with improvised munitions launched from a commercial drone. Interestingly, the Russians surrounded the TOS launcher with a protective cage to prevent premature detonation of the rockets on board.

TOS-1A—The Russian weapon of mass destruction

The TOS-1A systems are capable of annihilating all life forms within their range. They were first deployed as "heavy flamethrowers" by the Russian army during the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The design is rather simple - a launcher with 24 unguided rockets of 220mm caliber mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. The payload of each rocket is an immense 99-pound thermobaric explosive charge, demonstrating the weapon's potential for mass destruction.

A thermobaric charge differs from conventional explosives as it doesn't contain oxygen. Instead, it uses the oxygen present in the air. For this reason, just before detonation, the thermobaric charge disperses into the air as an aerosol, which is then detonated by the main charge.

The explosion results in an immediate rise in temperature to up to 5432 Degrees Fahrenheit in the blast zone, while simultaneously consuming all the oxygen, creating a vacuum. This is accompanied by a shockwave that returns due to the vacuum, causing fluctuations in pressure measured in several hundreds of kilograms per square centimeter (typically, over several thousands of PSI).

Such an explosion can not only tear soft tissues apart, leading to devastating injuries and painful deaths, but also significantly damage structures like aircraft claddings. The destructive effects of this explosion are amplified in confined spaces such as buildings or fortifications due to resonance of the shockwaves.

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