To put the ‘Fear of G-d’ into musim terrorists in Syria, Russia is bringing back deadly flamethrowers for modern combat
Most of the world’s militaries have moved on from flamethrowers, with a belief that the weapons are ineffective in modern combat and not worth the bad press.
One of the few exceptions to this, however, is the Russian military. They view flamethrowers as an important part of their arsenal, and have specific units that still specialize in lighting their enemies on fire.
A recent U.S. Army report notes that flamethrowers are still “an important asset in the Russian maneuver commander’s toolbox.” It citesa full report on Russia’s use of flamethrowers from the Foreign Military Studies Office, an open source research organization of the U.S. Army.
The report isn’t written in a critical tone. It says that at a time when other armies are reevaluating the value of flamethrowers, Russia has demonstrated their “usefulness for urban and mountain warfare, bunker busting, and clearing light infantry.”
It adds that the Russian military has found so much use for flamethrowers that they’ve expanded their flamethrower units with “at least four” new regiments in 2014.
While Russia has found value in flame weapons, it may also be validating their use by militaries of other nations.
The basic reasoning is simple. If troops are taking fire from a building or a bunker, they can either make a risky move to flush out the enemy—or they can just set the whole place ablaze.
For the Russians, the second option is preferable.
According to the report, Russia still sees flamethrowers as a “mature weapon system that fills specific capabilities gaps in the Russian Armed Forces force structure.”
It notes, as Russia experiments with “new forms and methods” of war, in urban warfare environments such as Eastern Ukraine, “urban warfare will likely continue to be a high priority for development, and so will Russia’s flame wielding” troops.
Russia’s Flame Troops
Russia has used the weapons in Afghanistan, and in the First and Second Chechen Wars. The report says Russia allegedly fielded a new type of flamethrower, the MRO Borodach (Small Caliber Infantry Flamethrower), in Ukraine in 2013. It has also used vehicle flame weapons in Syria.
The flamethrower of choice for the Russians is the Rocket Propelled Infantry Flame Thrower, also called the “Shmel” (“Bumblebee”). It’s much different from the type used by most nations in World War II. It’s basically a rocket launcher that releases a flammable cloud, which it then sets on fire.
When the flame from the weapon ignites, it sucks in nearby oxygen, which causes a “powerful burn” and an explosion with a “tremendous amount of force,” according to the report.
The damage caused by the weapons isn’t always from the flame itself. According to the report, “the primary cause of damage is caused by the vacuum created by the sucking of the oxygen
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