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KBP RPO-A (Shmel)

Shoulder-Fired, Rocket-Propelled Flame Weapon [ 1988 ]

The KBP RPO-A Shmel was introduced during the late 1980s and serves Russian forces today as an infantry-level, shoulder-fired flamethrower weapon.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/15/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

During the late-Cold War period (1947-1991), the Soviet Army introduced a terrifying new anti-infantry weapon known as the RPO-A "Shmel". This shoulder-fired rocket launcher, considered a flamethrower by Soviet categorization, was designed around use of several rocket types including a primary thermobaric warhead-equipped type (RPO-A). There was also an incendiary rocket introduced (RPO-Z) as well as a general smoke-generating round (RPO-D). The series was introduced during the late 1980s and saw first-actions in the Soviet-Afghan War (1979-1989), both Chechen Wars, and - more recently - in the ongoing Syrian Civil War (beginning 2011) and the War in Donbass (versus Ukraine).

The RPO-A was used to succeed the aging, outgoing line of flame-oriented RPO "Rys" launchers then in circulation.

The Shmel continues in service today and fires a 93mm caliber, 700mm long rocket from a shoulder-fired launch tube measuring 920mm out to an effective range of 200 meters. Minumum range is 20 meters and maximum range reaches out to 1,000 meters (though sighting is only up to 600 meters). The system weighs 11 kilograms and consists of the launch tube (with integral optics set and trigger unit), the spin-stabilized rocket and a launching canister component.

The RPO-M "Shmel-M" (PDM-A) is a modernized form of 2006 and differs in its 90mm caliber, 940mm length, and 8.8kg weigh load. The MRO-A is a disposable compact form of 72.5mm caliber with simple iron sights. The MGK "Bur" is a compact grenade-type weapon system of 62mm caliber based on the RPO-M.

The Shmel rocket launcher series is used (or has been used) by elements in Belarus, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, North Korea, Russia (as well as the former Soviet Union), Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Syria. The former Yugoslavia is a former operator of the series.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

Soviet Union national flag graphic
Soviet Union


Shoulder-Fired, Rocket-Propelled Flame Weapon

KBP - Soviet Union / Russia
(View other Arms-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of Belarus National flag of Georgia National flag of India National flag of Kazakhstan National flag of North Korea National flag of Russia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Syria National flag of Ukraine National flag of Vietnam National flag of Yugoslavia Belarus; Fiji; Georgia; India; Kazakhstan; North Korea; Russia; Soviet Union; Syria; Ukraine; Vietnam; Yugoslavia
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Special Purpose
Special purpose weapon for a specially defined battlefield role.

Overall Length
920 mm
36.22 in
Barrel Length
920 mm
36.22 in
Empty Wgt
24.25 lb
11.00 kg

Iron or Integrated Optics Set.


Shoulder-Fired; Rocket-Propelled

(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)



Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a shoulder-fired rocket projectile
Rounds / Feed

Single-Shot; Reusable Launch Tube
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Max Eff.Range
1,970 ft
(600 m | 657 yd)
Muzzle Velocity
410 ft/sec
(125 m/sec)

RPO-A "Shmel" - Base Series Name; 93mm caliber; thermobaric rocket warhead.
RPO-Z - Incendiary rocket warhead.
RPO-D - Smoke rocket warhead.
RPO-M "Shmel-M" (RPO PDM-A) - Modernized version of 2006; 90mm caliber; improved rocket and general performance.
MRO-A - Compact form; 72.5mm caliber; disposable.
MGK "Bur" - Compact grenade launcher; 62mm caliber.

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Image of the KBP RPO-A (Shmel)
Image via Navsea.Navy.mil; Public Domain.

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