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Russia Unveils Plans for Next-Generation TOS-3 Dragon Thermobaric Rocket Launcher.

| Defense News Army 2024

The Russian defense industry unveils development plans in the evolution of its formidable flamethrower or thermobaric rocket launcher technology. Dubbed the TOS-3 "Dragon," this new system represents an advanced iteration of the previously developed TOS-1A and TOS-2 thermobaric rocket launcher vehicles, known for their devastating firepower.
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The TOS-3 Dragon will be based on a tank tracked chassis such as the TOS-1 in this image. (Picture source Russian MoD)

According to sources within the Russian defense industry, the TOS-3 "Dragon" will incorporate design elements from its predecessors, utilizing the tracked chassis of either the T-72 or T-90 tanks. This choice of platform is indicative of the system's intended robustness and mobility on the battlefield. Furthermore, the TOS-3 will feature a launcher mechanism borrowed from the TOS-2 "Tosochka," notable for its integrated ammunition loading system. This innovation is expected to significantly enhance the efficiency of reloading operations, a critical factor in sustained combat engagements.

As of now, specific details regarding the project's current stage of development and the timeline for its implementation and potential serial production remain undisclosed. This veil of secrecy underscores the strategic importance of the TOS-3 "Dragon" within Russia's military modernization efforts.

The operational deployment of the TOS-1A "Solntsepyok" and TOS-2 systems in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine highlights the critical role of these weapons on the front lines. Their reliance on proximity to the target area, necessitated by a maximum firing range of just 6 kilometers, underscores the tactical scenarios envisioned for the TOS-3 "Dragon."

The TOS family of weapons, developed by Russia, encompasses a series of heavy flamethrower systems that are renowned for their use of thermobaric and fuel-air explosive munitions. These systems have been engineered to fulfill a variety of military roles, primarily focusing on the obliteration of enemy personnel, fortifications, and lightly armored vehicles. The underlying technology and weaponry of the TOS series are both advanced and formidable, positioning these systems among the most potent conventional arms available in contemporary warfare.

At the heart of the TOS family's destructive power are the thermobaric (TBX) and fuel-air explosive (FAE) munitions. These types of ammunition are characterized by their unique mechanism of action, which unfolds in two distinct stages. Initially, upon detonation, the munition disperses a cloud of highly explosive particles. Shortly thereafter, a secondary explosion ignites this cloud, producing a massive blast wave and vacuum effect. This dual-phase explosion is particularly effective against entrenched or fortified positions, as the initial blast wave can penetrate deep into structures or tunnels before the secondary explosion maximizes the weapon's lethal effect.

The TOS-1, the first in the series, was introduced in the late 1980s and was notable for its direct integration with a tank chassis, providing significant armor protection and mobility. It was followed by the TOS-1A "Solntsepyok," which offered improvements in range and firepower. The TOS-2, a more recent addition, further enhanced the system's capabilities by introducing a wheeled platform for increased mobility and an automated loading system to expedite munition handling processes.

The development of the TOS-3 "Dragon," as the latest iteration, signifies a continued evolution in this weapon family. By adopting the chassis of modern tanks like the T-72 or T-90 and incorporating the advanced launcher mechanism from the TOS-2 "Tosochka," the TOS-3 aims to combine the best features of its predecessors with new technological advancements. This includes an improved ammunition loading system that promises to streamline the rearming process, a critical factor in sustained combat operations.

The strategic value of the TOS family lies in its ability to deliver unparalleled destruction over a concentrated area, making it a feared weapon against formations of troops, defensive positions, and light vehicles. The psychological impact of facing such a weapon, capable of causing immense devastation with a single salvo, cannot be understated. As the latest member of this formidable family, the TOS-3 "Dragon" is poised to continue this legacy, offering a glimpse into the future of thermobaric warfare technology.

Russia Unveils Plans for Next Generation TOS 3 Dragon Thermobaric Rocket Launcher 925 002
The TOS-2 is based on a truck chassis and is fitted with an automatic loading system. (Picture source Russian MoD)

Defense News February 2024

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