A rocket-propelled grenade (often abbreviated RPG) is a shoulder-fired, anti-tank weapon system that fires rockets equipped with an explosive warhead. These warheads are affixed to a rocket motor and stabilized in flight with fins. Some types of RPG are reloadable, while others are single-use. RPGs, with some exceptions, are generally loaded from the muzzle.
RPGs with high explosive anti-tank warheads (HEAT) are very effective against armored vehicles such as armoured personnel carriers (APCs). However, heavily armored vehicles, such as main battle tanks, are generally too well armored to be penetrated by an RPG, unless weaker sections of the armor are exploited. Various warheads are also capable of causing secondary damage to vulnerable systems (especially sights, tracks, rear and roof of turrets) and other soft targets.
The term "rocket-propelled grenade" is strictly speaking a backronym; it stems from the Russian language РПГ or ручной противотанковый гранатомёт (transliterated as "ruchnoy protivotankovy granatomyot"), meaning "hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher", the name given to early Russian designs.
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