TechUkrainian special forces neutralize Russian 'heavy flamethrower' in significant blow to military

Ukrainian special forces neutralize Russian 'heavy flamethrower' in significant blow to military

TOS-1A system in action.
TOS-1A system in action.
Images source: © X | NEXTA

7:08 PM EST, December 18, 2023

In the attacks conducted on Sunday, December 17, the Ukrainian forces added 44 tanks, 60 armored combat vehicles, and 38 artillery systems to the tally of Russian military losses. Another notable destruction was another thermobaric missile launcher, TOS-1A. A recent destruction of the same kind was observed in mid-November when Solntsepyok was destroyed in the Kherson region. A subsequent TOS-1A trouncing took place roughly two weeks later, in the final days of November.

The thermobaric rocket launcher

The downed TOS-1A, captured in the recording, is equipment whose development spans back to the 1980s. Production began in 1987 in response to the concept of devising a weapon capable of striking a wide expanse with a rapid missile salvo. After several years of creating prototypes, the first TOS unit was officially showcased in 1999 at an arms exhibition in Omsk.

Broadly, TOS-1A is an exceptionally ruthless weapon that eradicates anything within its blast radius. This is due to its thermobaric warheads, which, as outlined by virtual Poland journalist Przemysław Juraszek, are frequently dubbed as "nuclear weapons' cousins" owing to the devastation they cause post-explosion.

The Solntsepyok is constructed on the chassis of the widely-used Russian T-72 tank, fitted with a launcher for 24 unguided rockets each having a caliber of 220mm. Each rocket carries approximately 99lbs of thermobaric explosive charge that displays different traits compared to typical weaponry.

What sets it apart is that the thermobaric charge extracts oxygen from the atmosphere rather than having it included within the missile structure. This leads to the release of the charge in an aerosol form before detonation. Post-explosion, temperatures in the impact site can soar up to 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit, causing TOS-1A to practically disintegrate people within the blast epicenter.

Operating the Russian heavy flamethrower requires a three-person crew. Tipping the scales at roughly 50 tons, this colossal piece of equipment can achieve a maximum speed of 37 mph. When fully fuelled, it can cover over 311 miles.

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