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    TOS Buratino

    TOS BuratinoThere is a quite exotic weapon in Russian army – HFS-1 Buratino (Pinocchio in English). HFS stands for heavy flame-throwing system or tyazholaya ognemyotnaya sistema (TOS) in Russian. The TOS-1 Buratino can deliver its full load of 30 rockets in seven and a half seconds. Engagement range of the unit is 2700 to 3500 meters The carrier vehicle based on the T-72 chassis results vulnerable to firepower from helicopters and other tanks. It is very maneuverable to withdraw rapidly from the battlefield to backward positions. It was not mass produced due to its limited firepower and weapon maximum range in comparison to other "classical" MLRS such as Grad Uragan or Smerch for operation in conventional military conflicts. The TOS-1A Soltsepek is an upgraded version introduced by the Russian Army in 2009 and featuring 24 unguided rockets with a maximum range of up to 6 kilometers.

    According to its specifications, its barrage destroys everything that lives within a radius of 3 kilometers around its target. Its ammunition contains mixture of liquids (propyl nitrate type) and light metals (magnesium powder). During the flight of such ammunition the mixture is being interfused with internal device in order to gain uniformity. So called vacuum effect resides in the principle that at the moment of mixture detonation all the oxygen in the air comes into reaction simultaneously. Fast combustion of oxygen leads to decrease in pressure (by 160 mm of mercury column). This makes basements and bunkers nearly useless shelters – lungs, eardrums, eyes, and viscera are being torn apart by the pressure difference.

    The combat deployment of Buratino's began in the end of Soviet invasion to Afganistan. During December 1988-February 1989 two "Buratino"'s participated in Operation "Typhoon" in Charikarsky Valley and the Southern Salang. Tactics of the MLRS usage consisted in sudden hit the enemies by fire, then rapid withdrawal of combat vehicles from the battlefield to avoid backfire and further transfer to places of permanent deployment of Soviet troops.

    Action of thermobaric munitions against targets in the mountains did more damage to the enemy due to overlapping of air shock waves and their multiple reflections from the surrounding rocks. After the military trials in conditions of warfare in Afghanistan "Buratino's" we recommended to service in the Soviet Army again.

    The next conflict where Buratinos have been used again turned to be the Second Chechen War, in the battle for the village of Komsomolsk in March 2000 in particular. In Chechnya Buratino's were used exclusively under cover of several tanks (1 or 2 in front, 2 on the sides) due to its vulnerability to grenade-launcher fire, anti-tank weapons and recoilless weapons. Damage of the unit, and thus, chaotic rocket launch or even ammunition detonation can cause serious damage to friendly troops and civilian population.

    Buratino's were used for the first time by the pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine in January 2015 near the village Veseloe. Earlier the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine reported that a large amount of equipment was sent from the territory of the Russian Federation to Donbass from October 30 to December 9, including 4 of TOS-1 "Buratino." In the beginning of Februrary 2015 Ukrainian authorities claimed that at least one TOS-1 "Buratino" has been destroyed by Ukrainian army.

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