RPG-30 - the offense vs. defense spiral grows

I've seen photos of an unknown Russian recoilless weapon with a dubious second barrel months ago and my guess (not just mine) was that the second barrel was intended to defeat APS/hard kill-defenses.

That turned out to be correct, as I saw today on the Firearm blog.
Further info is here and here.

The small barrel shoots first and provokes a reaction of the hard-kill defense (and possibly clears some explosive reactive armor - ERA), while the main barrel shoots a normal shaped charge (seems to be a tandem shaped charge similar to RPG-29's - the tandem configuration is standard for the defeat of ERA).

The use of only one decoy projectile to counter active protection systems (APS)/hard kill-defenses seems on first sight to be inadequate; most if not all APS cover every angle with more than one interception cartridge. It may be that some or all APS are unable to intercept the second warhead due to the explosion effect and debris of the first intercept.
Anyway; the RPG-30 probably needs a switch to select whether decoy or real warhead shall launch first - an APS could be set to ignore a first (small) target and only intercept the larger second target, after all.

The Russians seem to stick to their 105mm shaped charge - possibly because of weight restrictions. The Chinese scaled up to 120mm warheads for such weapons some years ago (pretty much ignored by the military-interested Western public), but that design seemed to be most credible as battalion-level support weapon on tripod, comparable to early recoilless guns.

The dual AT bazooka is a fine example of offence vs. defence spiral going on in the realm of technology even in peaceful times - even in a country with a not really generous military budget. APS are still not widespread equipment today (even though the Russian ones were hot topics as early as around 1994). We see a countermeasure before the technology that it shall defeat is even in quantity production!

That's a good reminder for everyone with interest in military technology; there's pretty much always a possible countermeasure which will eventually reduce the value of an innovation drastically. That includes 'wonder weapons' like stealth and guided munitions. It's just becoming heavier, more complex and more expensive all the time.

edit 2014:
"The RPG-30 was unveiled in 2008 by the State Research and Production Enterprise Bazalt as a modern anti-tank grenade launcher, designed to address the threat of active protection systems on military vehicles. Active protection systems such as ARENA-E, Drozd and Trophy defeat anti-armour ammunitions by destroying them before they reach the vehicle. The RPG-30 is a response to the introduction of these systems. It has cleared its testing program and is waiting to be included in the Russian state arms procurement program as of November 2008.
The RPG-30 shares a close resemblance with the RPG-27. It is a man-portable anti-tank rocket launcher with a single shot capacity. However, unlike the RPG-27, there is a precursor round with smaller calibre in addition to the main round. This precursor acts as a false target deceiving the APS into engaging it and opening the main round (following the precursor with a delay in the 100 ms range) a clear path to the target while the APS is stuck in the 0.2 – 0.4 second delay which it needs to start the next engagement. The PG-30 is the main round of the RPG-30. The round is a 105 mm tandem shaped charge and has a range of 200 meters and a stated penetration capability of more than 600 mm RHA"
quote source: Strategie & Technik, Autumn 2009, English Ed.


  1. There are many possibilities. APS could be adapted for multiple intercepts at once.

    Recoilless guns (like Pvpj 1110) could fire tandem projectiles (separated in flight) - possibly even the old APBC shell type instead of shaped charge. That might work against medium vehicles like FCS tanks.

    Missile ripple fire or automatic heavy calibre fire...see the newer "T-95" article.

    Grenade launchers could be adapted to fool APS.

    There's even some serious sci-fi possible, like munitions that attempt to drive/fly under the target tank for a AT mine-like hit.

    Finally, flying squirrels from hell! ;-)

  2. Same weapon covered by Danger Room post here: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/11/russia-unveils.html
    They suppose a slightly different idea about the purpose, but they share your vision of counter-counter measures as key economic factors in weapon system development/arrest.

    Paolo S. Italy