In the East, the Rocket-Propelled Grenade ("RPG") weapon system has seen consistent evolution and battlefield use since the original RPG-2 made its debut in 1954. These relatively simplistic weapons have proven both easy to train with and easy to operate meaning any able-bodied person can be made lethal in its use. The weapons are an economic measure that is ideal against enemy armor, light vehicles, and fortified enemy positions. The RPG line grew out of the Cold War period (1947-1991) with the original RPG-2 and went on to produce the classic RPG-7 and modern incarnations in the RPG-18 "Mukha", RPG-22 "Netto", and RPG-29 "Vampir".
The RPG-22, the focus of this article, was evolved from the earlier RPG-18 and appeared in 1985 as the Soviets were embroiled in their war in Afghanistan. As with other Soviet-era weapons, this system has managed to remain a viable solution on the modern battlefield - even today. In both form and function, the RPG-22 is comparable to the American M72 LAW (detailed elsewhere on this site) and, like the M72, the Soviet model is disposable after firing, limiting it to single-use functionality.
The RPG-22 fires a High-Explosive, Anti-Tank (HEAT) round by way of a 72.5mm projectile out to ranges of 200 meters. Maximum range is 250 meters as the sighting device is pre-marked at stages for ranging out to 50m, 150m, and 250m. The weapon is rated against Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA), concrete, and brick targets making it an ideal multi-purpose weapon. Furthermore, its lightweight (2.8kg) and compact footprint (785mm collapsed, 850mm extended) means that it can be carried over the shoulder of each infantryman or a single infantryman can carry multiple tubes ready-to-fire. The launcher is readied in seconds with the tube extended, flip-up sights engaged, and the trigger pulled. As the exiting projectile is inherently unguided (simply stabilized by spring-loaded fins), the rocket is prone to accuracy issues the farther out the target resides. Cocking the weapon is done by simply raising the rear sight, the operator needing only to lower the sight to de-cock.
The launch tube if of weight-savings fiberglass construction and, internally, it has a smoothbore design housing the rocket grenade. Caps are affixed at both ends of the launch tube when in transport and the telescoping section of tube slides over the fixed, primary cylindrical assembly making up the launcher.
As with any shoulder-fired weapon of this type, the launch tube exhausts its propellant directly aft of the operator meaning anything in the back-blast is in danger. As such, this limits the weapon's usage some when firing from cover such as from a building's window. Once fired, the launch tube is discarded allowing the infantryman to freely move with less weight to carry.
Despite its age, the RPG-22 series continues active use with the armed forces of Russia as well as many former Soviet allies, supported states, and aligned export customers including Bulgaria (including local production), Croatia, Georgia, India, Iraq, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
It has more recently seen use in the Ukrainian-Russian War of 2022.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
850 mm 33.46 in
785 mm 30.91 in
6.17 lb 2.80 kg
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Rounds / Feed
Single-Shot; Disposable Tube.
*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.
575 ft (175 m | 192 yd)
435 ft/sec (133 m/sec)
RPG-22 - Base Series Designation.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns / operations.
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