TechUkrainian ingenuity: Converting old grenades for drone warfare

Ukrainian ingenuity: Converting old grenades for drone warfare

A Ukrainian modifying RKG-3 grenades for use on drones.
A Ukrainian modifying RKG-3 grenades for use on drones.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | Roy

9:58 AM EDT, May 24, 2024

Ukrainians are renowned for their creativity in eliminating Russian forces, and any method that improves weapons efficiency is worth noting. For this purpose, they are modifying old RKG-3 anti-tank grenades, which have been in use since the 1950s, for use on drones. We explain the reasons for these modifications and present the performance of this weapon.

FPV drones are one of the primary tools Ukrainians use to mitigate shortages in, for example, anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) or artillery systems.

To these drones, they attach items like lightened PG-7VL grenades from RPG-7 grenade launchers, bomblets from dismantled cluster munitions or bombs, or hand grenades, sometimes using zip ties or adhesive tape. For the last two, the fuse is sometimes made of two wires, which, upon contact, close the electrical circuit and cause an explosion.

One of the more interesting examples of weaponry that has become obsolete on the modern battlefield is the RKG-3 anti-tank grenade, introduced in the 1950s and now being field-modified. According to Ukrainians, cutting off the top of these grenades allows for the perfect formation of the cumulative jet, thereby improving their armor-penetration capabilities.

RKG-3 grenades in a new role - they won't destroy tanks, but other vehicles are fair game

The RKG-3 grenade, which weighs between 2.4 and 3.7 lbs depending on the version, is built with a shaped charge capable of penetrating 5 to 9 inches of armor steel. When used on drones, the grenade's weight is reduced as the handle and part of the casing are removed, leaving essentially only the shaped charge along with about a 1.1-lb explosive charge.

The grenade is equipped with an impact fuse, and its armor-penetrating capabilities pose a lethal threat to vehicles of the BMP, BMD, or BTR families. As for tanks, there's a slight chance of penetration, but the drone would have to hit almost perfectly vertically on the roof. The only form of protection is using cage armor or, in extreme cases, scrap metal on such vehicles, which forces the grenade to detonate 8 inches away from the main armor.

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