According to additional analysis from OSINTtechnical (@Osintechnical), which first shared the video, the team was utilizing a pair of RPG-7 man-portable launchers that were configured to fire 82mm OG-82 (82mm mortar bombs) high-explosive (HE) rockets.
“This seems like a somewhat reliable(ish) system, with an aiming device. Additionally, they appear to be working with a spotter utilizing a drone. The rockets probably have a maximum ballistic range of about a kilometer, matching the observed treeline to treeline shots,” @Osinttechnical further explained in a series of tweets.
The type of improvised weapon had been seen in use in the “War in Donbas,” which has been ongoing since 2014.
It essentially transformed the RPG from an anti-tank weapon into an indirect mortar. The question is how effective the aiming is with the system, even with an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) acting as a spotter.
History of the RPG-7
Though the Ukrainian military has received vast numbers of U.S.-made FGM-148 Javelin, British NLAW, and Swedish AT4 man-portable anti-tank weapons, Kyiv’s forces certainly have vast quantities of the Cold War-era RPG-7 that were inherited from the Soviet Union.
They are putting them to good use against the Kremlin’s main battle tanks (MBTs).
Development of the RPG-7, which was based on the RPG-2 anti-tank recoilless gun, began in 1958, and on June 15, 1961, an order was signed to accept the platform for service together with the PG-7V high-explosive charge. The reloadable launcher is based around a steel tube that is 40 millimeters in diameter, 95.3 centimeters long, and weighs in at seven kilograms.
That basic design has remained largely unchanged in six decades, but there have been a series of improvements to the platform. Thanks to those upgrades, the weapon remains operational in more than eighty countries around the world.
Though the RPG-7 can be operated by a single soldier, like most man-portable anti-tank weapons, in practice, the RPG-7 is employed with a team. This team consists of a gunner and an assistant — where the second individual carries the extra rounds, loads the weapon but also defends the gunner from attack.
There is some irony in the fact that the RPG-7 was designed for use against NATO’s tanks, yet in fact, it has been increasingly used against Russia’s MBTs and other vehicles. Of course, it wouldn’t be the first time – as large numbers of RPG-7s were captured by Mujahideen forces in Afghanistan.
The RPG-7 has a maximum effective range of about 920 meters (3,000 feet), but it is generally considered to be most effective out to about 200 meters (650 feet). It now appears that with some modifications, it can be an effective mortar-like weapon as well.
This is far from the only old weapon that has been improvised by Kyiv’s troops into a more modern platform. In March, there were reports that a soldier transformed a PM M1910 Maxim machine gun into an oversized sniper rifle.
Boys and their deadly toys.
Highly improvised Ukrainian MRL, utilizing a pair of RPG-7s configured to fire 82mm OG-82 (82mm mortar bomb on a PG series rocket) HE rockets. pic.twitter.com/6nB9K6WpX9
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) May 5, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.