‘1st Time In History’! Russia Says Its Airborne Forces Received TOS-1A “Solntsepek” To Attack Ukraine

With Russia and Ukraine preparing for a fresh spring offensive, the Russians seem to have transferred their iconic TOS-1A Solntsepek Heavy flamethrower system to the elite forces of the Russian military.

On April 3, the Russian defense ministry (MoD) announced that the airborne forces received the heavy flamethrower system, TOS-1A Solntsepek, for the first time. It was already in use by the Russian Army.

The flamethrower system will be used on the battlefield against Ukraine, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

According to the Russian MoD’s statement, “In the Saratov region, in one of the advanced formations of the troops of radiation, chemical, and biological protection, for the first time, the transfer of heavy flamethrower systems TOS-1A Solntsepek took place in the interests of the Airborne Troops of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.”

The first reports of the Flamethrower system used by the airborne troops surfaced on social media. On April 2, a video went viral on Twitter that showed the troops hitting Ukrainian positions utilizing the system.

According to some reports, when the shell hit the ground, the temperature rose to 3,000 Celsius. EurAsian Times could not independently verify these claims.

Describing how the system was formidable, Colonel Aleksey Goncharov, head of the RKhBZ service of the Airborne Forces, said that the Solntsepek has no equal in the collective western arsenals. “They induce panic in the enemies. I am sure that the skillful use of this weapon will bring us closer to victory,” he added.

The RIA Novosti report highlighted that the Solntsepek has already achieved success in the ongoing Ukraine war by destroying the entrenched positions of the Ukrainian military. It asserted that one could not hide even in trenches from the impact of this weapon.

It was previously stated that the Ukrainian troops’ positions close to Kremennaya in the Luhansk People’s Republic were burnt by massive flamethrower devices called “Solntsepek.” The Russian armed forces attacked the Ukrainian soldiers’ position with 220-mm thermobaric shells, which killed the soldiers.

In early March, there were reports that the Russian Marines were advancing towards Ukraine with flamethrower systems TOS-1A Solntsepek. These systems have been used to shell Ukrainian positions with devastating impact since the beginning of the Russian attacks.

Using 220-mm thermobaric shells, the Russian armed forces attacked the Ukrainian troops’ position, decimating their personnel in the process. In general, thermobaric weapons, or vacuum bombs, are a type of two-stage munition that create enormous explosions.

These reports were accompanied by a video showing that Russian TOS-1A Solntsepek (“Sunshine”) made domes of shock waves upon impact in the cratered forests of Kremennaya.

On their part, the Ukrainian troops have also claimed the destruction of these flamethrower systems since the initial months of the war. The exact number of the destroyed TOS-1A Solntsepek, however, remains unknown.

TOS-1A Solntsepyok
File Image: TOS-1A Solntsepyok

TOS-1A Solntsepek Flamethrower System

The TOS-1A Solntsepek is the latest version of the TOS-1 flamethrower system and is essentially a Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher (MBRL) system created and developed by Omsk Transmash Design Bureau. Its launch vehicle is designated BM-1 and is designed to perform the same missions as its earlier variants. However, it has an increased range.

In 2001, the Russian Army officially put the TOS-1A into service for the first time. In December 2017, Russia’s radiation, chemical, and biological protection (RChBP) forces signed a contract to purchase up to 20 TOS-1A Solntsepek rocket launchers. The TOS-1A Solntsepek provides direct fire support to complement main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles on the battlefield.

The chassis of the TOS-1A MBRL system is based on the T-72 main battle tank. The rocket launch facility has taken the turret’s position while maintaining the same overall design. Strengthened steel forms the hull of the vehicle. The launch vehicle weighs 46,500 kilograms.

The system has space for a crew of three, with the driver sitting in the center and the commander and gunner accommodating themselves in the two small turrets at the back.

File Image: TOS-1A Solntsepek

Compared to other similar systems, the TOS-1A Solntsepek has a shorter firing range. However, because of its thermobaric and multiple launch capabilities, it gives operators a great deal of flexibility. A set of 24 rockets is carried in the TOS-1A platform’s ammunition load, while 48 are carried in the TZM-T reloader vehicle.

The system can launch unguided missiles, thanks to the fully automated launch control system. Each rocket has a solid-fuel propulsion engine, unique thermobaric explosives, and a detonating fuse. It can fire several rockets in less than a second, with an engagement range of 400 to 6,000 meters.

The system also is very mobile. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 60 kilometers per hour and an endurance of up to 550 kilometers.

Further, it provides defense against splintered shells and small arms fire. Smoke grenade launchers of Type 902G are mounted on either side of the hull. The launch vehicle can also be rendered undetectable to opponents, thanks to the engine smoke-generating system.

The deployment of these lethal war machines by Russian troops could bolster the Russian offensive when the battle for Bakhmut has intensified and the invading troopers are trying to make rapid gains into the East Ukrainian region.