UralVagonZavod Concern, a Russian Defense business, delivered a fresh batch of TOS-1A Solntsepyok multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) to the Russian army, state-owned RIA Novosti reported recently.
The system, which the Soviets referred to as a “heavy flamethrower,” is built to kill anything it comes into contact with and is outfitted with a rack of incendiary or thermobaric rockets.
The business noted that the Omsk Transport Engineering Plant (part of Rostec State Corporation) continues to provide Russian forces with military hardware.
Additionally, it stated that it had supplied the robust TOS-1A flamethrower systems to the Ministry of Defense ahead of schedule as part of the state defense contract. Uralvagonzavod is a leading tank manufacturer in Russia and is also referred to as the world’s largest tank manufacturer.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, sanctions were imposed on the state-owned UralVagonZavod enterprise, denying it access to products and technologies that may strengthen the Russian Federation’s security and defense sector.
However, its defense firms continue to supply lethal equipment to the military. In August, UralVagonZavod announced that it had handed over a new batch of T-90M Proryv main battle tanks (MBTs) and BREM-1M tracked armored recovery tanks to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
According to the Euromaidan press, the UralVagonZavod has earned the reputation of being “Putin’s favorite factory” on Russian social media platforms. Euromaidan also noted that the firm continues to produce affordable tanks currently deployed to attack Ukraine.
Meanwhile, the latest report from RIA Novosti highlighted the effectiveness of this system in the Ukraine war, claiming that after launching a barrage of munitions by this system on the enemy’s positions, Russian assault groups quickly occupied them with no resistance at all.
TOS-1A “Solntsepek” Multiple Rocket Launcher
Russia claims that the TOS-1A is the only weapon system of its kind in existence. The system has launch guides for unguided rockets carrying so-called thermobaric warheads. Such a munition releases a cloud of specific fuel as an aerosol, which explodes to produce a volumetric explosion and a strong shock wave.
An unguided rocket is a self-contained piece of munitions used in military operations that, when shot at a point or area target, flies there primarily using the power of a rocket engine until the motor runs out of fuel.
Aerodynamic techniques, such as spin stabilization or fin stabilization, keep the rocket on the predetermined course while in flight. The use of such weapons in indiscriminate attacks kills or injures civilians.
For instance, a volley of Smerch rockets—typically launched from unguided multiple rocket launchers—fired by Russia in Kharkiv landed close to a shopping center, a parking garage, and an apartment complex. This caused a woman nearby shopping to have her leg blown off; the woman later passed away.
The TOS-1A was designed as a long-range replacement for handheld flamethrowers. The weapon is designed to target and crush any item in its path. It is also designed to destroy heavily fortified targets.
The TOS-1A “Solntsepek” (Sunshine) variation is an improved version. It is intended to launch longer-range rockets with a range of up to six kilometers. Russian forces have previously deployed the self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system (MRLS) in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, and Syria.
Sebastian Roblin, a military expert, noted: “A TOS-1 rocket barrage will wipe out everything within the 200-by-300m blast zone.”
“Victims near the center of a TOS-1 blast radius are crushed to death. Further out, the overpressure can break bones, dislocate eyes, cause internal hemorrhaging, and rupture eardrums, bowels, and other internal organs. It also sucks the air out of victims’ lungs, possibly causing them to collapse, leading to death by suffocation,” he added.
He further pointed out that the TOS-1 vehicle has no true counterpart in use by the Western military. All of the multiple-rocket launch systems currently in operation, including the M142 HIMARS used by the US Army to attack ISIS in Iraq, are light-armored weapons meant for indirect long-range firing.
The armored launcher can move in all directions without restriction. It is installed atop a tank chassis to keep up with the armored forces it is meant to support. It has a far shorter range than designated artillery, enabling shorter flight times.
Russian CBRN flamethrower battalions use the Buratino because its secondary purpose is to use incendiary rockets to destroy potential biological or chemical threats. The Buratino saw its first action in 1988 during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan after being designed in the 1970s and deployed in 1980.