Images emerging from Ukraine following fighting in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on the 25th of May show alleged pro-Russian Ukrainian separatist fighters in possession of Russian-made MRO-A rocket launchers.
The MRO is a self-contained, disposable single shot 72.5 mm rocket launcher, sharing similarities with the larger, 93 mm RPO family to provide a lighter alternative. Both the MRO and RPO series weapons have descriptions translated from Russian as “flamethrowers”, referencing the three incendiary-type warhead variants produced. It should be noted that the RPO family are shoulder-fired recoilless weapons, which use an expelling charge to launch their projectile.
Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine with MRO-A launchers. (Korrespondent.net)
The MRO-A, as pictured above, carries a thermobaric warhead and is distinguishable by the two short red stripes towards the firing end of the weapon, as seen in the picture above. The MRO-D variant carries a white phosphorous (WP) smoke warhead, identifiable by one red stripe, and the MRO-Z an incendiary warhead marked by a single yellow stripe. The RPO series is available in the same variants, featuring the same markings and designations.
A close-up example of markings on a MRO-A launcher. (Russianarms forum)
The presence of the MRO in Ukraine is significant because, unlike the RPO, it is not known to be in the Ukrainian military arsenal. As seen below, a cache of RPO-A launchers was allegedly captured from pro-Russian separatists following fighting at the Donetsk airport. In late January, Pravda News also reported a request from the Ukrainian Interior Minister of the time Vitaly Zakharchenko asking for permission to use the RPO-A to “help maintain public order and public safety.”
Captured RPO-A launchers from Donetsk airport. (Glavnoe News)
Calibre: 72.5 mm
Length: 900 mm
Weight: 4.7 kg
Effective Range: 90 m
Maximum Range: 450 m
Variants: MRO-A (Thermobaric warhead), MRO-D (WP Smoke warhead), MRO-Z (Incendiary warhead)
Calibre: 93 mm
Length: 920 mm
Weight: 11 kg
Effective Range: 200 m
Maximum Range: 1000 m
Variants: RPO-A (Thermobaric warhead), RPO-D (WP Smoke warhead), RPO-Z (Incendiary warhead)
Special thanks to Ivan Kochin and Yuri Lyamin for their assistance. Header photo courtesy of Foreignpolicy.com.