During the 1970’s, the Soviets began experimenting with thermobaric weapons, which use fuels that combust upon contact with oxygen. These weapons are capable of producing huge explosions (compared to ordinary explosives) and thus very effective. As a result of numerous testing, the Soviets came up with the RPO Shmel (Bumblebee) and the TOS-1 Buratino (Pinocchio) While the RPO is a hand-held disposable missile launcher, the TOS-1 is a multiple-missile launch system with 24 barrels based on the T-72 chassis.
The TOS-1 is able to devastate enemies in the open field, inside fortifications, and inside lightly armored vehicles such as APC’s. The TOS-1’s 220mm missiles use propyl-nitrate and light magnesium as fuel. Compared to the BM-30 Smerch MRLS, the TOS-1 is less accurate and has a lower range, but is much more powerful, with the effects of an entire salvo of missiles covering up to 2-3 km2, making it the most powerful missile artillery system in the world. First used in Afghanistan in 1989, The TOS-1 proved a major success and was later used again during the campaign in Chechnya. In 2001, an upgraded version was introduced, dubbed the TOS-1A, which had an improved range of 6 km.
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