Heavy flamethrowers that appeared to be a Russian TOS-1A multiple-rocket launch systems have been spotted in Saudi Arabia.
A photo released on Russian social media showed TOS-1A multiple-rocket launch systems, commonly known as Solntsepyok (Burning Sun), that were recently delivered to Saudi Arabia.
There was no information regarding the cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia in the field of supplying missile systems and artillery, until now.
For reference, the new TOS-1A system based on a modified T-72 chassis and fitted with a rotating launch system for 24 unguided thermobaric rockets.
The flamethrower like as TOS-1 is launching a rocket carrying a fuel-air explosive (FAE). The fiery blasts of this system create a partial oxygen vacuum that kills and maims in a variety of grotesque ways and cannot be mitigated with body armor or hardcover.
The new flamethrower is designed to obliterate heavily fortified positions. The current effective firing range of the existing TOS-1A system is 6 km.
Speaking to Izvestia, military historian Alexei Khlopotov clarified that while “Solntsepyok is often mistakenly called an artillery system, in fact, the system is an Assault Tank, operating alongside infantry formations. It’s for this reason that its launchers are armored, and mounted on the chassis of [T-72 and T-90] tanks.”
Not a flamethrower in the traditional, WWII-era understanding of the term, the TOS is a flamethrower in the sense that it lobs thermobaric warheads into enemy-held areas, setting them ablaze.
Also, defense analyst Sebastien Roblin wrote for the National Interest that the TOS-1 vehicle has no real counterpart in use by Western militaries.
“While there are all kinds of multiple-rocket launch systems in use, such as the M142 HIMARS in use by the US Army to bombard [Daesh] in Iraq, they are all lightly armored weapons intended for long-range indirect fire,” he noted.
Sebastien Roblin described the launcher as one of “the most devastating explosive weapons short of tactical nuclear weapons.”