TechUkraine counters Russian firepower by neutralizing the feared TOS-1A system

Ukraine counters Russian firepower by neutralizing the feared TOS‑1A system

Russian TOS-1A destroyed or seriously damaged by Ukrainian drone operators.
Russian TOS-1A destroyed or seriously damaged by Ukrainian drone operators.
Images source: © X (dawniej Twitter) | Cloooud
9:54 AM EDT, March 27, 2024

Ukrainian drone operators from the 63rd Mechanized Brigade successfully neutralized a threatening TOS-1A system near Kreminna. This article delves into the attack's details and highlights this system's destructive capability, often described as creating complete devastation.

Using FPV drones, Ukrainians in the Kreminna vicinity managed to destroy or significantly damage the heavy flamethrower TOS-1A. The TOS-1A was nearly depleted of ammunition, resulting in a less dramatic explosion than expected. This incident represents the 23rd documented loss of such equipment in recent conflicts.

Notably, even a single TOS-1A loss is considered significant for Russia, which, according to pre-war estimates, had about 50 units in active service. These systems, with their thermobaric missile warheads, are particularly effective at wiping out forces ensconced in robust fortifications.

Thermobaric Weapons - "The Poor Man's Nuke"

The Russian army has employed TOS-1A systems, first during the intervention in Afghanistan, for their effectiveness in flushing out adversaries from both field fortifications and urban settings. Central to this system is a launcher capable of firing 24 unguided rockets, each 220mm caliber.

These launchers are mounted on the widely used T-72 tank chassis T-72. Notably, each rocket carries a warhead packed with approximately 99 pounds of thermobaric explosives, delivering extensive destruction.

Thermobaric explosives are unique because they don't contain oxygen in their chemical makeup but rather pull oxygen from the environment to initiate a reaction. This allows for a higher concentration of active material at a similar weight.

The deployment of a thermobaric warhead occurs in two stages. Initially, the thermobaric compound is dispersed as an aerosol, igniting a delay fuse and resulting in a powerful blast.

At the blast's core, temperatures can soar to about 5432 degrees Fahrenheit, draining oxygen from the area and generating a vacuum. Moreover, the initial explosion creates a shock wave powerful enough to damage aircraft structures, which, due to the subsequent vacuum, is pulled back, causing immense pressure spikes.

This rapid pressure change can inflict severe soft tissue damage, such as to the lungs, subjecting survivors to intense suffering. In confined spaces, the amplification of shock waves by resonance starkly increases the lethality of the explosion.

Thus, near the blast, conditions are akin to that of nuclear weaponry, albeit without the radioactive fallout. This has led to the nickname "the poor man's nuke" for the TOS-1A system. However, its effectiveness is somewhat limited by its maximum range of about 3.7 miles, leaving it vulnerable to artillery, anti-tank guided missiles like the Stugna-P, or FPV drones.

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