RPO-A Shmel

The RPO-A Shmel (Russian: РПО-А Шмель, tr. RPO-A Bumblebee) is a man-portable rocket launcher, although it is classified as a flamethrower (Russian Реактивный Пехотный Огнемет / Reaktivnyy Pekhotnyy Ognemet, Reactive Infantry Flamethrower) by the manufacturer, KBP, Tula.

The Shmel is designed, produced and exported by the Russian Federation and previously by the Soviet Union. It entered service with the Soviet Armed Forces at the end of the 1980s as the successor for the RPO Rys.

The RPO-A is a single-shot, self-contained tube shaped launcher that operates much like some RPG and LAW rocket launchers. The launcher is a sealed tube, carried in a man-pack in pairs. The same person can remove the tube, place it in firing position, and launch the weapon without assistance. After launch, the tube is discarded. All models are externally similar.

Each weapon contains a single rocket, of which there are three varieties. The basic rocket is the RPO-A, which has a thermobaric warhead and is designed for attacking soft targets under moderate cover. The RPO-Z is the incendiary warhead (Rus. зажигательный / Zazhigatel'nyy, Incendiary) designed to spread fire and ignite targets. Finally, there is a smoke-producing warhead (Rus. дымовой / Dymovoy, Smoke) offered, the RPO-D.

RPO-A Shmel
Class Manportable
Type Rocket Launcher
Manufacturer KBP Instrument Design Bureau
Origin Russia (USSR)
Country Name Origin Year
Russia (USSR) 1980
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Russia (USSR) 1980 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
KBP Instrument Design Bureau 1980 View

RPO weapons have seen use by the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and by both the Russian and the separatist forces in the First and Second Chechen Wars.[citation needed] On 9 August 2014, during the Donbass War, the Ukrainian border checkpoint of Milove was attacked using RPO flamethrowers. The main building was hit by five incendiary rockets.

Type Rocket launcher
Place of origin  Soviet Union
Service history
In service Late 1980s
Used by Russia
North Korea
Sri Lanka
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Wars Combat History
Production history
Designer KBP
Designed 1980s
Manufacturer KBP
Produced Late 1980s
Variants RPO-A, RPO-Z, RPO-D, Shmel-M, MGK Bur
Weight 11 kg
Length Launcher: 920 mm, Rocket: 700mm
Caliber 93 mm
Muzzle velocity 125 ±5 m/s
Effective firing range 20m - 1000m (sighting range is 600m), RPO-M is 1700m (sighting range is 800m)
Sights iron

End notes