TechUnusual battlefield incident: Russian tries to use RPG-7 against drone with dire results

Unusual battlefield incident: Russian tries to use RPG‑7 against drone with dire results

The Russian threw an RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher at the damaged drone.
The Russian threw an RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher at the damaged drone.
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9:15 AM EDT, March 30, 2024

The conflict in Ukraine has unveiled a series of unusual scenarios that seemed more plausible in video games or action films until now. One such bizarre incident involved a Russian attempting to destroy a damaged Ukrainian drone using an unloaded RPG-7 grenade launcher. This article delves into the background of this peculiar attempt and sheds light on where things went awry.

A Russian soldier, upon spotting a damaged Ukrainian drone, decided to eliminate it. He opted for a heavy RPG-7 anti-tank launcher, which weighs over 15 lbs, that was within reach and hurled it at the drone. This decision proved to be a grave error as the launcher exploded, resulting in injuries to the soldier.

The RPG-7 launcher: simple yet perilously risky to operate

RPG-7 launchers, as ubiquitous as AK family rifles, are used by armies worldwide and various rebel or terrorist factions.

Despite its simplicity, the RPG-7 is effective at neutralizing primarily older armored targets from about 220 yards away (theoretically up to 440 yards) with the right ammunition. The most common ammunition includes PG-7VL grenades, which can penetrate up to 20 inches of armor steel but are ineffective against reactive or rod armors. Other types include the improved PG-7VR, designed to breach these defenses, and the fragmentation OG-7V and thermobaric grenades.

However, all these grenades share a significant design flaw: a simple impact fuse. Normally safeguarded by a plastic cap, some users remove it for quicker access. This can lead to accidental detonation with a mere light strike against any hard surface, as seen in the incident with the Russian soldier.

Unlike more modern designs which feature safety delays—like the RGW90, used by Jarosław Szymczyk in an operation against the headquarters of the National Police Command in Warsaw, which arms the warhead only after traveling 20 meters—the RPG-7 leaves no room for error, making any mishandling potentially deadly for its user. It seems the soldier either wasn't aware or forgot about this critical detail.

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