Following Hamas's unexpected deadly assault on Israel, evidence from the battlefield revealed the presence of drones, RPG anti-tank rocket launchers, and PGs outfitted with thermobaric warheads. Iranian media outlets cite Israeli television coverage: "Caught both intelligence agencies and the Israeli military off guard..."
These might indicate the Iranian "Ghadir" version, strikingly similar to the Russian RPG-29 Vampir anti-tank rocket launcher. Such discoveries further validate reports of Iran's constant contributions to Hamas's arsenal, encompassing advancements in rocket development technology, drone capabilities, and supplies of anti-tank missiles and sniper rifles and doctrine.
Iran perceives Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad as critical components in its so-called Axis of resistance" intending to encircle Israel. This axis encompasses—the pro-Iranian Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria—the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since the initiation of Operation "Iron Swords," these militias have escalated their onslaught against U.S. bases.
Introduced in the 1980s, the RPG-29 (Vampir) and RPG-29N, codenamed GRAU, are breech-loaded, shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket launchers. They're compatible with either the PG-29V anti-tank rocket, fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead, or the TBG-19V, which bears a thermobaric warhead.
The Ghadir, an Iranian counterpart of the RPG-29, showcased in a Baghdad exhibition, mirrors the RPG-29N closely. A more rudimentary model with a unified barrel has been reported among Iranian-supported factions since 2018.
The RPG-29’s Iranian variant can launch anti-armor ammunition with specifications of a 500-meter range, weighing around 6.9 kg, traveling at a speed of approximately 225 meters per second, and boasting the capability to pierce through 500mm of armor post-reactive armor intervention. Its thermobaric ammunition variant can span a maximum of 1000 meters. Notably, thermobaric weapons are prevalent, particularly in Syria and Iraq, which Iran-backed Shiite militias use.
The RPG-29 deploys a 105mm PG-29V rocket, equipped with a tandem warhead, akin to the RPG-7's PG-7VR rocket and the RPG-27's single-use rocket. Yet, the RPG-29 boasts a notably more extended range. The launcher also has a TBG-29V rocket with a thermobaric warhead designed to decimate buildings, fortifications, and lightly armored conveyances. These rockets, identifiable by their fin-stabilized rocket motors, are exclusive to the RPG-29.
Throughout the U.S.-led coalition's occupation of Iraq, RPG-29s, sourced from Iran, were used in ambushes, immobilizing several American M1A2 Abrams and at least one British Challenger 2 tank. The weapon also marked its presence in 2006 during the second Lebanon war, with Israeli reports highlighting the RPG-29 among the culprits inflicting Israeli army casualties.
In 2021, the Houthi rebels showcased a collection of infantry weapons, including large caliber rifles resembling the RPG-29 and various mortars in varying calibers.