On March 8, the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, published a video showing an FPV (First-Person View) drone successfully dodging a hostile missile before crashing into Russia’s fearsome TOS-1A thermobaric artillery weapon.
The Security Service of Ukraine posted the footage and the details on Twitter. The video shows a kamikaze drone striking TOS-1A just as the Russian flamethrower system was preparing to fire.
“Warriors of the Special Operations Center “A” of the Security Service of Ukraine burned up a Russian heavy flamethrower system “Solntsepek” right at the moment of its salvo,” the caption for the video reads.
The SBU stated in that post that “the ‘Second World Army’ was left without another ‘analog.'” It is thought that the drone strike on the Russian TOS-1A thermobaric weapon system may have occurred in the Donbas region.
Спецпризначенці СБУ знищили FPV-дроном російський «Сонцепьок» ?
Воїни Центру спецоперацій «А» Служби безпеки спалили російську важку вогнеметну систему «Сонцепьок» прямо в момент її залпу.
«Друга армія світу» залишилась без ще одного «аналоговнєту». pic.twitter.com/DXjS1ZBKih
— СБ України (@ServiceSsu) March 8, 2023
This weapon system has been frequently spotted on the battlefield since the initial phases of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Oksana Markarova, the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States, declared that thermobaric weapons, sometimes called “vacuum bombs,” were employed in Ukraine just days after the invasion started.
The TOS-1A, an improved version of the TOS-1 heavy flamethrower system, can cost more than $6.5 million when servicing, training, and ammo are considered.
The daily figures published by the Ukraine Ministry of Defense alleged that the Ukrainian military had eliminated 488 Russian MLRS systems since the war started on February 24, 2022.
These statistics, however, cannot be independently verified.
Russia’s TOS-1 or TOS-1A multiple rocket launchers are designed to carry thermobaric warheads. These weapons do not use standard ammunition and are loaded with high-pressure explosives.
They are frequently referred to as “vacuum bombs” because they suck oxygen from the air around them to trigger a powerful explosion and a huge pressure wave capable of causing a considerable deal of devastation.
Russian TOS-1 And TOS-1A
The TOS-1 and TOS-1A 220mm artillery systems are mounted on the main battle tank chassis and can fire 24 to 30 thermobaric rockets.
According to the website of the Russian state defense company Rosoboronexport, the TOS-1A is designed to use thermobaric rockets to suppress various covered and open targets.
The TOS-1A uses thermobaric rockets to create incendiary explosion effects, according to a report by the British Defense Ministry on March 9, 2022.
Rosoboronexport defines it as an “extremely lethal weapon” with immense combat capability, a maximum firing range of 6000 meters, and a 90-second combat readiness time. According to Russian official media, the maximum range of this weapon system is 5.6 miles.
The Soviet military describes the TOS-1 and TOS-1A as flamethrowers, and their function is to lob a powerful explosion over a close distance.
The Russian Omsk Transport Machine Factory announced in November 2022 that a new batch of TOS-1A Solntsepyok had been sent to the front lines. The numbers that were delivered were not disclosed.
It is also unknown if those vehicles were new or if new parts had been installed. These weapon systems have been used in Ukraine by various military regions of the Russian Federation ever since the start of the Russian invasion.
The weaponry has proven incredibly potent against troops that have dug in. It would be less probable to see them used against tanks or infantry in open terrain, considering that Russia only has a “small number” of these launchers.
These weapon systems are made for close-quarters combat, specifically in urban firefights. They can be brutally effective in Kyiv’s residential buildings, the subway system, and government structures, protecting Russian forces from the dangerous duty of door-to-door warfare and terrorizing the civilian population.
Thermobaric rockets are also thought to have been used by Russia in Chechnya and Syria. Meanwhile, the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons may forbid using thermobaric weapons. However, they are not explicitly mentioned.
Nonetheless, several experts noted that using thermobaric weapons indicates that even restricted war can swiftly turn into a low-tech, brutal fight when the participants are persistent or desperate.