Copy Cat

Sometimes war is a complicated thing.

I reported on SOFREP a while back on the US supplying Mi-27 Russian helicopters to the Ukrainians to use against the Russians. Today I’m talking about American Built RPG-7s, supplied to Ukraine from the US and supposedly being used to take out Russian Equipment. “But,” you say, scratching your head, “everyone knows that RPGs are Russian-designed weapons; what the hell are you talking about?”

Read on and allow me to explain.

A Ukraine National Guard soldier gripping an American-made RPG-7 clone. Image Credit: weaponews.com

When is an RPG-7 Not an RPG-7?

Answer: When it’s a PSRL-1, made in the USA. It is a Precision Shoulder-fired Rocket Launcher, and we ripped the idea for this right out of the back catalog of tried and true Soviet-era weapons and Americanized the hell out of it. Since 1961, more than 9 million RPG-7s have been made, making it the most produced anti-armor weapon ever.

A Texas-based company, AirTronic USA developed what they refer to as a modernized version of the venerable RPG-7 and gave it the somewhat unimaginative nickname of RPG-7USA. It was developed in coordination with and became a program of record of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) in 2015. The first confirmed sales of the finished product were to the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2017 (500 units). These were reportedly used in combat for the first time shortly after Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

One of the most iconic weapons used in modern warfare. Video courtesy of YouTube and US Military News.

The American RPG-7 is slightly lighter than its Russian counterpart at 14 lbs, and it is made out of 4140/4150 ordnance-grade steel giving it a 1,000 round lifespan. The rate of fire for a motivated user is 3-4 rounds per minute. Compared to the original RPG-7, the PSRL has Picatinny rails for mounting optics and accessories.

According to the manufacturer, a variety of sights can be used with this weapon:

  • 3×24 Sightmark Wolfhound Prismatic Weapons Sight with Custom RPG BDC Reticle
  • 3x5x35 Trijicon ACOG TA11 Scope with Custom RPG BDC Reticle
  • Flip-up Back-up Iron Sights on Picatinny Rail (Standard)
  • 12x Pulsar Trail XP-50 Thermal Sight (800m range)
  • 10x Pulsar Trail XP-30 Thermal Sight (500m range)

When magnifying optical sights are added for long-range firing, the probability of achieving a direct hit at 800 meters is 90%.  This is twice the distance of other non-‘murican RPGs.

Who Do We Share This Weapons System With?

We currently sell to (or supply) Ukraine, Peru, and the Philippine military forces with these. I thought that was an interesting mix.

The Russians managed to get their hands on some following the battle for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. The captured weapons are shown in the Twitter post below as they were displayed on Russian Television.

Image courtesy of Twitter and @historicfirearm

So, in theory, Russians could be using American-made RPG-7s against American-backed Ukrainian forces in Ukraine.

I’d call that a full circle.

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