The Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG) attack on the Punjab Police’s Intelligence headquarters in Mohali late Monday night has brought the weapon into focus. What exactly is an RPG, what are its origins, and what damage can it cause? The Indian Express explains.
What is the Rocket-Propelled Grenade (RPG)?
The RPG is a weapon of Soviet origin, and its initials stand for Rucknoy Peotivotankovvy Granaromyot, which roughly translated means a handheld anti-tank grenade launcher. It is a portable, shoulder fired weapon, which is easy to operate and can cause widespread damage whether used in an anti-personnel mode, against armoured vehicles or against buildings. There are different versions of the RPG which are designed as per the usage of the weapon with varying capacity of the warhead, effective range and penetration levels.
The RPG is a weapon of Soviet origin.
What are the origins of the RPG?
The origins of RPG lie in the various conflicts that have taken place in modern military warfare, dating back to World War I.
There have been various such handheld weapons developed by western military powers, but the most prolific of these has been the RPG, which has made its presence felt in almost every major insurgency or terrorism-affected region in the world.
The Soviet-origin RPGs have been used extensively in the Vietnam conflict as well as in conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and even closer home, in Jammu and Kashmir. Security forces in J&K have, in the past, recovered RPGs from slain terrorists, and have also found evidence of its use.
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What kind of RPG was used in Mohali police attack?
While only a detailed forensic analysis of the weapon recovered in Mohali can reveal its exact nature, experts have, on first look, found it to resemble an RPG PG-22 Netto version.
This kind of RPG consists of a front-loading tube from which it is fired. It can inflict severe damage upto 200 metres of range, with a total effective range of 250 metres. The projectile can penetrate 400 mm of armour, 1.2 metres of brick or 1 metre of concrete.
The damage caused to Punjab Police’s Intelligence headquarters in Mohali. (Twitter/@mssirsa)
Can such weapons be easily procured by terrorists?
There is a thriving illicit market for Soviet-origin weapons like the RPG, which are still in circulation worldwide. Such weapons are not difficult to procure by arms smugglers, and these then find their way to terrorist organisations.
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Eastern European countries, especially those from the former Soviet Union bloc, are well known markets for the sale and purchase of these weapons.
Many intelligence agencies of countries which want to build in an element of deniability in their distribution of weaponry to terrorist organisations in other countries also resort to purchase of such weapons through non-traceable routes.
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