The Type 69 Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) is nothing more than a local Chinese copy of the famous Soviet-era RPG-7 series. The original Soviet weapon debuted in 1961 and went on to see over 9 million units manufactured with tens of thousands still in active use today. The Chinese derivative was introduced in 1970 and also equally sees active service with its own healthy stable of operators. Its production has been handled by NORINCO (China NORth INductries COrporation). Combat actions have included the Vietnam War (1956-1975), the Cambodian Civil War (1967-1975), the Sino-Vietnamese War (1979), the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989), the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), the War on Terror (Afghanistan 2001-Present), the Iraq War (2003-2011) and the ongoing Syrian Civil War (2011-Present).
The Chinese exposure to Soviet anti-tank doctrine first arrived in the form of the "RPG-2" of 1949 and these went on to find considerable battlefield successes worldwide. China then took on local production of this weapon which became its "Type 56". The Type 56 was eventually proven outmoded on the ever-advancing battlefield which resulted in Chinese engineers working to copying the newer, more effective Soviet RPG-7 - this becoming the "Type 69". Design and tested during the early 1960s, the weapon was approved by 1970 and adopted into frontline service as a standard Anti-Tank (AT) solution.
In practice, the Type 69 proved as sound as its Soviet counterpart. The effectiveness and general popularity of the Soviet RPG-7 soon brought the Chinese into obtaining a locally-produced copy in large numbers. The weapons were well-liked due to their ease-of-use and reliability while also being relatively inexpensive to produce in the numbers needed. As such, the Type 69 became the anti-tank weapon of choice for Chinese ground forces. Additionally, its projectile could also be used to engage infantry as an anti-personnel weapon.
The Type 69 features a launch tube with integral sights and carrying handle. Its barrel caliber is 40mm while firing a projectile seating a warhead of 85mm. Effective range is out to 655 feet with a maximum reach out to 1,970 feet (the latter with some accuracy loss). Iron sights are fitted as standard though the launch tube also supports various optical installations including InfraRed (IR) and Night Vision (NV) to broaden its tactical usefulness. Overall weight is a handy 12.3lbs with an overall length of 35.8 inches, allowing a single operator to carry the launcher over his shoulder as well as several ready-fire grenades along with his standard assault rifle. The weapon can be fired by just the single operator though a second crew facilitates reloading.
Apart from the standard HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) projectile warhead, the Type 69 also fires a hollow charge form, an HE/HEAT round, an airburst projectile, an incendiary grenade, a smoke grenade and a tandem-warhead AT rocket. All projectiles are cleared to fire from the same Type 69 launcher which proves logistically sound to discerning customers. The basic HEAT round has also since been improved in stages through the "Type 69-II" and "Type 69-III" grenade marks to keep it a viable tank-killing solution on the modern battlefield.
Production of Type 69s spanned into the 1980s though it has since been discontinued. Its battlefield use, while still effective (up to a point), has been marginalized over time due to advancements in modern armor protection for tanks and armored vehicles alike. An improved form emerged as the "Type 69-I" but ongoing work has also produced a true successor in the "PF-89".
Operators of the Chinese Type 69 range outside of the Chinese Army and include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Laos, North Korea, Pakistan (localized production), Romania and Thailand among others.