Syria’sExperience: Russian TOS-1A Heavy Flamethrower Unique and Irreplaceable Arkady Savitsky TheSyria’s government forces are making advances in Idlib province – the lastbastion of anti-government terrorist groups.
The Syrian army had to overcome tough resistance but success became evidentwhen Russia-made Syrian TOS-1A Solntsepyok thermobaric heavyflamethrower systems were transported to the province and joined thefight. The formidable weapon hadbeen used by Iraqi forces against the Islamic State militantsin the battle of Mosul. It was very effective supporting infantry during theoperation launched by Syrian government forces to free the city of Palmyra fromIslamic State terrorists in 2017. TOS-1A systems guard the Russian militarybase at Hmeimim, Syria. TheSolntsepyok uses the BM-1 combatvehicle, which has a rotating launcher system for 24 unguided rockets. Itboasts a cutting edge fire control system with a laser range finder and anenhanced sophisticated ballistic calculator. The required elevation angle canbe determined if deviation does not exceed 10 m.
All operations are done inside tokeep the crew away from enemy fire. The system can fire at night. If a targetis detected at a visible range, 90 seconds are enough to engage it. The systemis protected by a 902G four-barreled smoke grenade launcher.
Thelauncher is installed on the chassis of T-72Atank. Its diesel engine is capable of840 hp. The TZM-T all-terrain re-supply truck equipped with a crane is also anelement of the TOS-1A.
It carries a fullreload of 24 rockets. The Solntsepyok is designed to strikeinfantry, fortifications, including bunker busting, and light armor dug-inpositions in mountains, fortified caves, rural strongholds, urban areas andother enclosed spaces. The system is different from multiple launch rocketsystems (MLRS) as it uses different types of munitions: 220mm rockets with thermobaric(vacuum) or fuel-air charges. They are almost as devastating as tactical nukes.
A gaseous cloud of chemicals is created to mix with the air before a vacuumexplosive detonates it. High-pressure shock wave has great destructive power andthe air is sucked out from confined areas, creating a partial vacuum. The cloud penetrates buildings, caves and trenches. Overpressure destroyslungs.
A single shotcan destroy several city blocks. A round with a weight of the mixture of about3.2 kg can obliterate everything in an area of eighty cubic metres. A fullsalvo of one battery consisting of five TOS-1As can clear an area of 40,000 squaremeters if fired at a maximum range. The weapon can be effectively used for mineclearing missions. The US theGBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) known as Mother ofall Bombs – the largest non-nuclear munition ever dropped on abattlefield – produces the same effects on a smallerscale.
Incendiary rounds can also be used. Russia possesses the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power (ATBIP) in the inventory but it has never been used incombat. The system’smaximum range of fire is 6 km, exceeding the ranges of the majority of antitankmissile systems. Minimum range: 400 m.
It takes no more than 0.5 s to launch one or ripple fire two rockets. The payloadof 24 ninety-kilogram rockets could be fired in 12 and 6 secondscorrespondingly.
This is aunique weapon other armies don’t have in the inventory. But there is no limitto perfection. Russia isdeveloping a new generation heavy flame-throwing system. The Tosochka heavy flamethrower (sometimeserroneously called the TOS-2) with the Russian Army in accordancewith Russia’s state armaments program for 2018-2025.
It can bemounted on the Armata main battletank’s tracked vehicle platform. The system will be installed on a wheeledchassis to make it operate effectively in the desert.It’ll be a good offer option for potential buyers from the Middle East. It’simportant to note that these weapons are not banned and their use does notbreach international law.