Vladimir Putin could use DEADLY thermobaric rockets in Ukraine that can rupture organs: Experts
Russian President Vladimir Putin could deploy some of the most destructive weapons known to man in his full-scale invasion of Ukraine, experts believe.
Russia's massive arsenal of thermobaric weapons can launch a barrage of fuel-air explosive warheads that have the capability of "melting" opposing forces. Experts highlighted how the TOS-1 'Buratino' and TOS-1A 'Solntsepek' are some of the most devastating weapons in modern-day warfare aside from nuclear warheads. Some sources in Ukraine have shared clips of convoys with TOS weapons headed for the border. The tanks reportedly feature a terrifying oblong-shaped rack on top, loaded with batches of incendiary and thermobaric rockets, The Sun reported.
Rob Lee, a PhD student at the Department of War Studies at King's College London, shared screenshots from a TikTok video of the military convoy. "Thermobaric troops on the move," he wrote of the convoy that was spotted traveling through the Russian city of Belgorod, located 40 km north of the border with Ukraine. The TOS-1 and TOS-1A were originally created as a long-range alternative to the handheld flamethrower and are designed to pulverize any soft target in their path.
According to The Sun, the Buratino, which means 'Pinnochio' in Russian, is unique to the country's military. The self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system (MRLS) has already been used by Moscow's generals during conflicts in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, and Syria. The TOS-1 is similar to the gargantuan 240mm 2S4 self-propelled mortar and is specially designed to destroy heavily-fortified positions.
The missile's destructive power was seen in the Second Chechnyan War between 1999 and 2000 when Grozny, a breakaway Russian province, was razed to the ground. One incident saw the TOS-1 kill 37 civilians and wound over 200 when a city block was blown up to smithereens. The acronym TOS in Russian stands from "heavy flame thrower." However, the TOS-1 is known to launch rockets carrying fuel-air explosives (FAE), dubbed the "wall of napalm."
It's worth noting that FAEs were first deployed by the United States during the Vietnam War when generals said napalm did not cause enough damage. Napalm weapons reportedly spread a sticky, flaming liquid over a wide area before incineration, while FAEs cause the air itself to detonate. A relatively small explosive inside the FAE warhead will spread a chemical through the air like a lethal deodorant spray. The cloud of gas seeps everywhere possible -- including buildings and trenches -- before a secondary explosive ignites the cloud and sparks a massive explosion with long-lasting effects. The blast can kill thousands of people at one go, rendering body armor or hardcover practically obsolete.
Military expert Sebastian Roblin, writing for 19fortyfive.com, explained how a TOS-1 blast was twice as powerful as most conventional bomb blasts and that people close to the blast radius are instantly vaporized. "A TOS-1 rocket barrage will wipe out everything within the 200-by-300m blast zone," Roblin wrote. He explained that the pressure can break bones, dislocate eyes, cause internal hemorrhaging, as well as ruptured eardrums, bowels, and other internal organs. Meanwhile, the impact can also suck the oxygen out of the lungs, causing victims to suffocate to death.
Russian heavy flamethrower system "Solntsepek" enters Belarus-Ukraine checkpoint "Senkovka-Veselovka". The video is from the Ukrainian side of the border. pic.twitter.com/cIdNVdu2vh— Franak Viačorka (@franakviacorka) February 24, 2022
The TOS-1's launch unit is shaped like a long nose, thereby earning the nickname Pinocchio. According to The Sun, they were spotted in a rebel training area in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine, as early as 2015. The Ukrainian government claimed they were used in the aerial bombardment that destroyed Donetsk International Airport in January that year. Meanwhile, the TOS-1A 'Solntsepek' (Sunshine) is an upgrade of the TOS-1 specifically designed to longer-range targets up to 6km away, It also features more armor on the launcher as compared to its predecessor. "The Buratino and Solntsepek are very useful weapons for a military that might be going into urban combat with little regard for collateral damage," Defense and national security commentator Charlie Gao wrote in an article for The National Interest in 2018.