The tank has been an infantry danger since the days of World War 1 (1914-1918) when they proved the difference between victory and defeat in the latter offensives of the conflict. Over the decades, militaries have funded development of various tank counters, running the gamut of portable shoulder-fired rockets, missiles, and grenades, specialized mines, and large-caliber armor-defeating rifles. Near the end of the Cold War in 1985, the Polish Army took into inventory a locally-developed solution intended to provide its infantrymen with a very portable anti-armor weapon - the RPG-76 "Komar" ("Mosquito").
Design work on the weapon began in the early 1970s between a group of Polish ad Bulgarian engineers and prototype rockets followed in 1973 (the launchers would come in 1980). From 1983 to 1995, some 100,000 of the weapon arrived through serial production out of Precision Works, Niewiadow and into the hands of Polish troopers (Bulgarian participation in the project ended some years prior). The RPG-70 became a single-shot anti-tank grenade launcher solution utilizing an unguided, armor-defeating rocket-powered projectile fired from a simple, hand-held / shoulder-braded launch tube. The weapon weighed 2 kilograms assembled and featured an overall length of 1,190 mm when fully extended / opened and made ready-to-fire. The rocket's caliber was a then-useful 68mm which provided penetration of up to 260mm of base armor protection. Muzzle velocity was 145 meters per second with an effective firing range out to 250 meters. Sighting was through a iron arrangement fixed onto the launch tube. Once fired, the expended launch tube was discarded making them relatively cheap to mass-produce and easy to operate / maintain.
A single soldier could carry multiple RPG-76 packs for a repeat-fire anti-tank capability and, while this would appear as something of a burden, it proved far more handy than hauling a full-size Soviet-style RPG weapon system and its reload rocket grenades. The smaller profile of the RPG-76 also made it far safer to fire the weapon from the confines of enclosed spaces unlike the RPG series which tended to generate a considerable amount of "back-blast" in such a scenario.
Despite the promising aspects of the RPG-76, it arrived at a time that saw Western armor protection rapidly evolving to nullify the benefits of a portable, small-caliber anti-armor solution. This limited the large-scale use of the RPG-76 in the Polish Army and left it primarily for the more specialized troopers such as airborne and special forces. Despite this, the weapon has managed an active position within the Polish military inventory into the 2000s, seeing service with Polish elements as recently as Afghanistan and Iraq where its capabilities are regarded as sound against certain types of fortifications, light armored / unarmored vehicles, and dug-in enemy personnel.
The modern primary approach to "tank-busting" for the Polish Army falls to a collection of weapons that includes the venerable Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.
Manufacturing Precision Works - Poland
- Anti-Tank / Anti-Material / Breaching
- Area Effect
- Specialized Role
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