Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrowers fired controversial thermobaric rockets in Ukraine


As reported by many media, including spectacular video footage, Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrowers fired thermobaric rockets, also known as aerosol bombs or fuel-air explosives, on Kharkiv. And they will keep on doing it on (many) more targets in Ukraine.
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TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)


The thermobaric weapon is a two-stage munition. As summarized by The Guardian, the first-stage charge distributes an aerosol made up of very fine material – from a carbon-based fuel to tiny metal particles. The second charge ignites that cloud, creating a fireball, a huge shock wave, and a vacuum as it sucks up all surrounding oxygen. The blast wave can last for significantly longer than a conventional explosive and is capable of vaporizing human bodies.

Such weapons are used for a variety of purposes and come in a range of sizes, The Guardian writes. What we see in Ukraine is Russia using them in a “bunker-buster” role to destroy defensive positions. Extremely large, air-launched versions are designed to destroy caves and tunnel complexes, as it was the case in Afghanistan. The blast wave can last for significantly longer than a conventional explosive and is capable of vaporizing human bodies.

As reported by The Guardian, Dr. Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said thermobaric weapons were effective at their “specific purpose” of “primarily destroying defensive positions”. While they would not be used to penetrate a tank, they could be a “very destructive weapon” against an apartment complex or other building. “They are not illegal even though their effects can be pretty horrific, because of that effect of creating a vacuum and sucking the air out of the lungs of defenders,” he said. Given their use is “pretty standard” in terms of Russian tactics, Hellyer said he expected to see more thermobaric warfare in Ukraine.


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Thermobaric rockets ready for loading in TOAS-1A (Picture source: Mil.in.ua)


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Thermobaric rocket exploding in Kharkiv (Picture source: D1SoftballNews.com)


 

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