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Rocket Propelled Grenade

Definition/Scope: A rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) is any hand-held, shoulder-launched anti-tank weapons capable of firing an unguided rocket equipped with an explosive warhead. RPGs can be very effective against lightly-armoured vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers (APCs) or unarmoured wheeled vehicles, as well as against buildings and bunkers. RPG is a transliteration of Russian abbreviation (transliterated as "ruchnoy protivotankoviy granatomyot"), which translates to the English phrase "hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher". The Soviet Union-developed RPG-7 is possibly the most widely distributed and used RPG in the world. Both of the Black Hawk helicopters lost by the U.S. during the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993 were downed by RPG-7s. The Soviets developed the basic design of this RPG during World War II, combining important design features of the US Bazooka and the German Panzerfaust. An RPG comprises two main parts: the launcher and the rocket, which is equipped with a warhead. The most common types of warheads are high explosive (HE) or high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) rounds. These warheads are affixed to a rocket motor and stabilised in flight with fins. Some types of RPGs are single-use disposable units similar to the U.S. AT4; others are reloadable, such as the Soviet RPG-7. The RPG launcher is a hollow tube that concentrates the rocket exhaust to create an over-pressure within the tube. This over-pressure propels the warhead at a higher speed than from the specific impulse of the rocket alone. This higher speed is necessary for the rocket to be stable in flight. The launcher is designed such that the rocket exits the launcher without discharging an exhaust that would be dangerous to the operator. In the case of the RPG-7 the rocket is launched by a gunpowder booster charge, and the rocket motor ignites only after 10 metres. In some other designs the rocket burns completely within the tube. An RPG is an inexpensive way to deliver an explosive payload over a distance with moderate accuracy. Substantially more expensive, wire-guided rockets are used when accuracy is important. These rockets trail a thin wire behind them during firing and steering corrections can be sent by the operator while in flight.

Used For:

antitank weapon


RPG (Russian)

Broader Terms:

antitank rocket
antitank weapon
guerrilla warfare
Integrated Army Active Protection System
light infantry
reactive armor
shoulder-fired antitank rocket launcher

Narrower Terms:

Rocket Propelled Grenade - 18
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 22
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 26
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 27
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 28
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 29
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 32
Rocket Propelled Grenade - 7
RShG-2 assault disposable grenade launcher

Related Terms:

AntiTank-2 Swatter
AntiTank-3 Sagger
AT4 light antitank weapon
Bunker Defeat Munition
Full Spectrum Active Protection
Full Spectrum Active Protection Close-In Shield
Full Spectrum Active Protection System
grenade launcher
high explosive
M136 AT4
M72 Light Antitank Weapon
Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon - Disposable
Tank Urban Survival Kit

CALL Homepage >> Thesaurus Last Updated: Sept 17, 2008