Thermobaric ammunition for the 3×40 millimeters grenade launcher

The thermobaric ammunition for the 3×40 millimeters grenade launcher was successfully tested at the “Getica” National Training Center in Cincu by specialists from the Scientific Research Center for CBRN Defence and Ecology (SRCCBRNDE) of the Research Agency for Military Technique and Technologies of the Ministry of National Defense. The experimental model has been tested on three targets, two car bodies and a lightweight construction to see what the effects are. “We want this equipment to be developed and approved, then transferred to an economic agent, preferably from the defense industry, to take over and industrialize the product,” said Cezar Stroie, head of the Compartment of Public Relations within the Department of Armaments.

The thermobaric ammunition for the 3×40 mm caliber grenade launcher is now in an experimental phase, with only 28 pieces being made. Until now, the scientists from SRCCBRNDE have been working on finding the right composition for the thermobaric charge, developing the components and testing the effectiveness of the hit in static conditions.

Project Director Engineer Alexandru Rogoz, said, speaking about this type of ammunition: “Starting with the last two decades of the last century, notions such as fuel air explosive (FAE) or thermobaric ammunition have been frequently circulated in the specialty literature but also in the accounts of the conflicts in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Chechnya or the Persian Gulf. Given that the destructive effect of these two new weapons categories is the surplus generated by a shock wave, although by different mechanisms, we consider the term “thermobaric weapon” to be the most comprehensive.

What should we know?

According to Mr. Rogoz, “taking into account the experience of the SRCCBRNDE, who since 1983 has been able to control the detonation phenomenon of combustible and air mixtures in a free atmosphere, and in the early 1990s, through its three working research prototypes (the jumping mine, the 100 Kgf aviation bomb and the 99 mm caliber portable thermobaric grenade launcher) had placed Romania among the top four countries in the world in terms of achievements in the this field”, we can say the following:

– Ammunition with a fuel-air explosion involves a combustible substance, typically liquid and from the hydrocarbon class, and two conventional explosive charges. When the first explosive charge is detonated, the fuel is scattered into the atmosphere in the form of a cloud of aerosols or vapors. The operation of the second explosive charge, after a determined time, causes the initiation of the detonation of the fuel and air mixture cloud, which behaves like an explosive.

– Thermobaric ammunition involves a combustible substance and a single explosive charge for dissemination. In this case, when spraying the combustible substance, the mixture with air is inflamed and burns, due to the action of a large number of initiation centers, represented by small incandescent metallic particles. This generates a large amount of energy in a very short time, which produces a shock wave and overpressure.

– Non-selective comparisons between classical and thermobaric ammunition are incorrect: the destructive effect is achieved in the first case, mainly by sketches, and in the other by the shock wave (overpressure). Thermobaric ammunition can be very effective in situations where classical brilliant ammunition is virtually harmless and vice versa.


It is true that

– there is currently no means of protection against the action of thermobaric munitions;

– due to the high shock wave area, the thermobaric ammunition (predominantly high capacity) requires less accurate target conditions;

– when fighting in the cities, the thermobaric ammunition is superior to the classical ammunition of similar size, for two reasons. First, when operating in closed spaces the overpressure is increased through successive reflections from the walls and ground. Second, the fuel-air cloud acts “around the corner”;

– if you own the technology necessary to create it, the thermobaric weapon is usually cheap and relatively simple to make;

Certain FAE and thermobaric ammunition owners are currently states like USA, Russia, Canada, Israel, China, India, Bulgaria, and Serbia. Depending on the doctrine, the offensive or defensive weaponry predominates.

The USA owns and had used, in Vietnam and in the two conflicts in the Gulf and Afghanistan, aviation bombs (CBU-55B, BLU -82, “daisy cutter” BLU 118 B), air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles with a FAE warhead, and a corridor creation system through CAT-FAE minefields.

Russia has a full range of FAE and thermobaric ammunition and has used it first in Afghanistan and then in Chechnya: the ODAB-500 aviation bomb; portable launcher of thermobaric grenades 93 mm caliber RPO-A “Schmel” (ammunition in a non-recoverable container PAFS type); multiple missile system (12 strokes) 300 mm caliber “Smerch” (range – 70 km; mass – 800 kg; FAE load – 100 kg; cloud diameter – 25 m); launcher of reactive missiles 220 mm caliber “Uragan”; TBG-7V thermobaric ammunition for AG-7 grenade launcher.

China holds a thermobaric grenade launcher 80 mm caliber PF-97, with a single use.

Bulgaria produces a thermobaric ammunition for AG-7 grenade launcher.

Serbia has offered for sale in the 1990s a 32-liter capacity fuel-to-air jet mines “UDAR-FAE”.

Canada holds the FALCON system for FAE demining.


Where are we?

For 20 years, many of whom without sufficient funding, a team from the SRCCBRNDE, based on a SSID program for the endowments of the forces, developed, in different stages of assimilation, the following thermobaric ammunition:

– FAE mine “MISECA” (Product C21) – industrial prototype homologated with Dragomiresti UPS

– portable thermobaric grenade launcher 99 mm caliber “LAPGECA-99” – a certified research prototype

– portable thermobaric grenade launcher 95 mm caliber “LAPGECA-95” (similar to Russian RPO-A) – an experimental model

– 100 kgf aviation bomb “BAECA-100” – experimental model approved for combat

– thermobaric grenade 105 mm caliber for AG-7 grenade launcher – industrial prototype approved with S.C. “Carfil” Brasov.

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