Weapons: June 14, 2004


New Russian weapons are showing up in Iraq, apparently smuggled across the Syrian border. One of the more dangerous has been the RPG-29. This is a larger version of the widely used RPG-7. With a ten pound launcher firing a 14.7 pound, 105mm rocket, the RPG-29 warhead is designed to get past some forms of reactive armor (ERA). The larger weapon (3.3 feet long when carried out, six feet long when ready to fire and 65 percent heavier than the 85mm RPG-7) is more difficult to carry around and fire, but some have been captured, and the damage on some American armored vehicles indicate they were hit by an RPG-29 rocket. The RPG-29 has an effective range of 500 meters. The warhead can also penetrate five feet of reinforced concrete. While the American M-1 tank is invulnerable to the RPG-29 from the front, it can be damaged with hits to the side and rear. The M-2 Bradley infantry vehicle is vulnerable from any angle. 

There is also a one shot version, the RPG-27, which weighs 17 pounds and has an effective range of 200 meters. Some of these have been found in Iraq as well. The RPG-29 and 27 are considered the "third generation" of the RPG family. The "second generation" was a failure, which the cheaper, and nearly as capable, RPG-7. 

Both RPG-29s and 27s were developed and entered production just before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. They are available through legitimate, or black market, arms dealers and are more expensive than the RPG-7 (which is manufactured by many countries.) RPG-29 launchers cost over $500 each, and the rockets for about $300 each. The RPG-27s cost over $500 each. Its known that many of Saddams higher ranking supporters escaped to Syria with a lot of cash. Apparently some of it is being spent on RPG-27s and 29s. 




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