RPG-7

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emarques

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RPG-7
« em: Maio 06, 2004, 02:30:45 am »
Um artigo em www.exile.ru

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The weapon of choice for the Iraqi resistance is the rocket propelled grenade (RPG)-7."
George J. Mordica II
USA Center for Army Lessons Learned

If you've been reading my columns for a while, you probably noticed I don't talk military hardware as much as most war buffs. There are a lot of people who'll talk all day about whether the Russian T-90 or the US Abrams is the best MBT. I don't do that much, for the simple reason that, wars these days don't come down to one model of tank vs. another. It's pretty rare to find a war where both sides even use tanks. Most of the time it's guerrilla vs. guerrilla, or conventional army vs. guerrilla. The odds of an all-out hi-tech war between two conventional armies like the US and Russia are about...oh, zero-point-zero. So it just doesn't matter that much whether their tanks could beat ours in some make-believe replay of the Kursk Salient. If you want to play that kind of war, buy a computer game. God knows there's enough of them. If you want to know how people make war now, in the real world, you need to study people, not hardware.
Sad but true, boys: war these days is more like Social Studies than Metal Shop. It's about tribal vendettas, military intelligence, propaganda, money--just about everything except pure hardware.
Don't get me wrong, I love the hardware as much as anybody. I used to spend every free hour, back before there was an internet, going over those big heavy reference books in the library: Jane's Tanks, Jane's Missile Systems, Jane's Combat Vehicles. I had those things memorized. Seriously, you could open any of Jane's handbooks at random, read me the name of a weapons system, and I'd recite its stats from memory--Norwegian anti-ship missiles, South African APCs, you name it.
But eventually I had to face the facts: most of those weapons are never going to get used. If you look at all the real wars going on right now, you come across the same two weapons, over and over: the AK-47 and the RPG-7--both Russian designs, and both older than your Dad.
They're the weapons that matter, because they're already out there, millions of units, enough to equip every guerrilla army in the world, simple enough that you can teach a peasant kid with hookworm and a room-temperature IQ to fire them, and cheap enough to buy in bulk.
And the RPG is the best of all, even better than the Kalashnikov. This simple little beauty just keeps getting more and more effective. This cheap little dealie, nothing but a launcher tube and a few rockets shaped like two ice-cream cones glued together, has kicked our ass (and Russia's too) all over the world since back when the Beatles were still together. In fact, more and more guerrilla armies are making the RPG their basic infantry weapon, with the AK used to protect the RPG gunners, who provide the offensive punch. The Chechens fighting the Russian Army are so high on it that they've switched their three-man combat teams from two riflemen and an RPG gunner to two RPG gunners with a rifleman to protect them.
There's another stat that's even more important right now: the RPG has inflicted more than half--half!--of US casualties in Iraq. This is the weapon that's hurting us. And it's been doing that for one hell of a long time.
The Soviets created the RPG for use by Soviet infantry squads against US tanks, APCs and personnel in that big NATO/Warsaw Pact war everybody was dreaming of back in the sixties. The design was an example of beautiful simplicity. It was a classic of Warsaw-Pact reverse-engineering. Warsaw Pact weapons designers had this attitude that it was a waste of time to design from scratch when you could count on your spies (and the Russians had the best spies in the world back then) to get you the specs on the weapons other countries had spent billions designing. So they just put together a cross between the two best shoulder-fired anti-armor weapons around, the Wehrmacht Panzerfaust and the US Army bazooka. And that was the birth of the most important weapon in contemporary warfare.
The RPG got its start against our guys in Vietnam. The Viet Cong and NVA used them as squad-level anti-armor weapons, and they were so damn good at it that we never got our money's worth from the tanks and APCs we sent over. Our APC back then was a really lousy dumptruck, the M113--basically a light-tank chassis with flat slabs of aluminum on the sides and top.
Sometimes you can see how good a design is just by the way it looks. One look at an M113 and you can see that this was a lousy vehicle. It was about as tall as Yao Ming, which meant it was a real big target. The aluminum armor didn't have firing ports, so the soldiers inside just had to put their helmets over their balls, close their eyes and hope the crew would open the hatch and let them out ASAP. The armor was just thick enough to slow the thing down, but not nearly enough to stop an RPG round. Which is no surprise when you know that an RPG armor-piercing round can penetrate 300mm of rolled steel--more than a foot of steel. Not a bad punch for such a little weapon to pack.
GIs who'd seen what an RPG hit could do to an M113 got in the habit of saying, "I'll walk, thanks." The RPG warhead does something called "spalling," which means the warhead turns the aluminum side armor of an APC into molten shrapnel which goes zipping through the guts of everybody inside like a Benihana chef's knife, only it's a knife as hot as the surface of the sun.
If GIs in Nam did have to ride an M113, they wore a lot of St. Christopher medals and sat on top. They were a lot less scared of getting shot by a sniper than of being hit by an RPG sitting inside.
We had nothing like it and still don't. We had the LAW, another shoulder-fired rocket originally designed to penetrate armor, but it wasn't nearly as easy to carry, because it didn't have the reuseable launcher the RPG featured. If you wanted to throw a dozen rockets at an enemy bunker, you had to carry a dozen LAWs along, whereas the RPG gunner needed just one launcher and a sack full of warheads.
Nam was just the beginning of the RPG's career. Just think back to Mogadishu 1993. The whole Blackhawk Down mess happened because some Afghan Jihadis who'd retired to Mogadishu--guess it was nice'n'restful compared to Kandahar--showed the Somalis how to use the RPG-7 as an anti-aircraft weapon, which its Russian designers never even thought of. The RPG was the key to the whole battle that ended up killing 18 Ranger and Delta guys (Jeez, remember when 18 GIs dead was supposed to be "unacceptably high" losses?), getting us to bug out from Somalia, and getting Ridley Scott's directing career back on track.

First the Somali RPG gunners, firing up from the streets where they'd dug holes to channel the big rocket backblast, hit our Blackhawks, bringing them down in the maze of slums. That drew our troops into the slums, where everybody from toddlers to grandmas started potshotting them with AKs.
The Afghans worked out how to use RPGs as AA back in the 80s, fighting the Soviets. I guess it was a little bit of poetic justice that the first helicopters to get brought down were Russian. The Afghans didn't have much to use against choppers except captured Russian heavy 14.5 cal. machineguns, which didn't have enough punch to bring down the Mi-24. And Reagan, the wimpiest hawk that ever flew, waited five long years to give the Mujahideen the Stingers that could take down an Mi-24 every time. So the Afghans started playing around with using the RPG against Russian CAS.
They came up with some great improvisations. There's nothing like war to bring out the inventor in people! One thing the Afghans figured out was how to use the self-destruct device in the warhead to turn the RPG into an airburst SA missile. See, the RPG comes with a safety feature designed to self-destruct after the missile's gone 920 meters. So if you fire on up at a chopper from a few hundred meters away, at the right angle, you get an airburst just as effective as SA missiles that cost about a thousand times more.
When the Chechens took on the post-Soviet Russian army in 1994, the good old RPG was the key weapon once again. By this time, the Russians must've been cursing the name of the man who designed the thing. What the Chechens found out in their first war against the Russians in 1994 was that the RPG is the perfect weapon for urban combat. The Russians sent huge columns of armor into the streets of the city, and the Chechens waited on the upper floors, where they couldn't be spotted by choppers but still held the high ground. They waited till the tanks and APCs were jammed into the little streets, then hit the first and last vehicles with RPGs--classic anti-armor technique. That left the whole column stopped dead, and all they had to do was keep feeding warheads into the launchers, knocking out vehicle after vehicle by hitting it on the thin top armor. The Russians were slaughtered, and they had to pull back and settle for saturating the city with massed artillery fires, which killed lots of old ladies but didn't do any harm to the fighters. So basically the RPG singlehandedly lost the Russians their first Chechen War.
Which brings us to Iraq, now. The first key to the RPG's effectiveness is availability, and it turns out that the one thing Iraq had more than enough of, in spite of all those sanctions, was RPG launchers and rounds. Saddam's army had an official license from the Russians to produce RPGs in Iraqi factories, and they made so many that, when Saddam went down, there were piles of launchers with plenty of anti-armor and anti-personnel rounds in most Iraqi towns. And after the Iran-Iraq War and Gulf War I, so many Iraqi men had trained on the RPG that there were plenty of gunners and instructors to teach the new generation how to use it.
Everything about the RPG design seems like it was designed to be used in Iraqi cities. It's got one of the shortest arming ranges of any shoulder-fired anti-armor weapons, which means you can fire it at a Hummer coming right down the street. It's light enough, at 15 pounds, for even the wimpiest teenager to run through alleys with. It's simple enough for any amateur to use--the original non-camera example of "point and shoot."
US doctrine for countering the RPG always stressed looking for the flash when it's fired, and the blue-grey smoke trail it leaves. There are two problems with that, though. In the first place, unlike, say, the TOW, the RPG is unguided, so once it's launched, it doesn't do much good to kill the gunner. You're still going to get hit. Second, it's not easy to see the blast or the smoke trail in one of these Iraqi "urban canyons." Too many walls to hide behind.
Our doctrine also used to stress laying down heavy fire in the general direction of the RPG launcher, to suppress further firings and hopefully kill the crew. But when you're fighting in the middle of an Iraqi city, that kind of general fire is going to kill a lot of hunkered-down civilians along with the RPG crew. And that doesn't look good on TV. More importantly, it makes you a lot of new enemies among the people whose cousins got shot.
Even if the RPG doesn't disable a vehicle, the blast radius of the anti-armor round is four meters, which means anybody in the area is going to be seeing little birdies for a good few minutes, deaf from the blast, temporarily blind, not to mention very scared and pissed off. Once you've got the occupying troops in a position like that--I mean literally blind and deaf--you're in a guerrilla strategist's idea of Heaven. Troops in that mood tend to start firing blind, which makes everybody hate them even more, which suits the guerrilla right down to the ground.
The next question about the RPG is how it's done in its first big combat test against a whole new generation of US Armor that was designed to counter it, like the M1 Abrams, Bradley, and Stryker. I'll talk about that in my next column.
Ai que eco que há aqui!
Que eco é?
É o eco que há cá.
Há cá eco, é?!
Há cá eco, há.
 

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Rui Elias

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« Responder #1 em: Maio 06, 2004, 01:02:16 pm »
Pode não ser a coisa mais sofisticada e cara do mundo, mas que é eficaz, é.

Os ocupantes americanos no Iraque têm tido dissabores com essa arma da resistência iraquiana.

Mas julgo que o valor associado a essa arma é sobretudo a coragem e motivação de quem a usa.
 

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Ricardo Nunes

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« Responder #2 em: Maio 06, 2004, 02:54:14 pm »
Amigo Rui,

Se conseguir passar um dia sem referir os "malvados ocupantes americanos" e a "heroica resistência iraquiana", ofereço-lhe um jantar!!!  :lol:
Ricardo Nunes
www.forum9gs.net
 

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Rui Elias

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« Responder #3 em: Maio 06, 2004, 03:06:47 pm »
Caro Ricardo:

E eu posso escolher o restaurante? :lol:  :lol:

É melhor ir-se habituando, porque agora temos um novo membro que me veio reforçar na luta (digamos que chegou a Cavalaria...).

É que as minhas munições estavam a ficar em baixo e a minha velha AK 47 já começava a encravar.

Cumprimentos.
 

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Fábio G.

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« Responder #4 em: Maio 06, 2004, 04:53:11 pm »
O RPG-7 é uma arma de sucesso nas guerrilhas, é uma arma ideal para elas é de fácil aquisição, transporte e utilização, e provoca os estragos pretendidos. É uma arma que pode ser usada contra soldados, veiculos não blindados e blindados, tanques e até helicópteros. Apesar de ser antiquada é muito util a estas guerrilhas.
 

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TazMonster

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« Responder #5 em: Maio 06, 2004, 06:19:37 pm »
e mais... pode-se fazer um UpGrade somente trocando a granada...
Taz
 

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JNSA

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« Responder #6 em: Maio 06, 2004, 10:41:05 pm »
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e mais... pode-se fazer um UpGrade somente trocando a granada...


Exactamente TazMonster - hoje em dia são fabricadas variadíssimas munições para RPG-7, desde as mais simples (e baratas) até munições anti-carro de elevada qualidade.

Sem dúvida que seriam um bom item a juntar ao inventário das forças armadas, até porque são mais versáteis do que o Carl Gustav (embora este talvez tenha melhores munições anti-bunker - não sei se o RPG-7 tem alguma ogiva fabricada propositadamente para esta função).

É curioso ver como regredimos neste aspecto desde os tempos da guerra colonial - nessa altura o exército (especialmente os Grupos Especiais, os Flechas e os Comandos) usava RPG-2 e RPG-7 sempre que podia (isto é, sempre que os conseguia capturar :wink: )
 

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emarques

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« Responder #7 em: Maio 06, 2004, 11:34:24 pm »
Parece que os polacos também têm umas granadas incendiárias para RPG. Não sei como é que funcionam.
Ai que eco que há aqui!
Que eco é?
É o eco que há cá.
Há cá eco, é?!
Há cá eco, há.
 

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[PT]HKFlash

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« Responder #8 em: Maio 08, 2004, 12:59:27 pm »
Vai ser complicado desenvolver alguma arma que consiga bater os RPGs e tambem vai ser dificil uma maneira de a tornar ineficaz! :(
 

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Fábio G.

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« Responder #9 em: Maio 08, 2004, 01:30:16 pm »
Os soldados portugueses já sentiram na "pele" o "poder" desta arma principalmente na Guiné onde o P.A.I.G.C. as usava frequentemente, o que quer dizer que tivemos uma grande experiência com esta arma, quer negativa quando usada pelo inimigo quer positiva (como o JNSA disse) quando capturada e usada. Com esta experiência e naquele tempo de guerra deveriam ter tentado fazer uma cópia, ou como fica mais bonito uma versão portuguesa de RPG.