Country of origin
93 x 700 mm
Range of effective fire
The PF-97 is
a Chinese copy the Soviet
Shmel. This weapon was designed to engage hostile troops located
in buildings and bunkers. It is also extremely effective against
soft skin vehicles, such as trucks. In 1992 China began negotiations
with Russia in order to acquire production license for the RPO-A
Shmel. It seems that Russia refused to grant production rights.
Anyway in 1996 China began to carry out local development and
preparation for production. The RPO-A Shmel is a rather
widespread weapon in the region. It is used by Russia, India,
Kazakhstan, North Korea, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. So Chinese
intelligence could easily acquire samples for reverse-engineering. The PF-97 has some minor changes
over the RPO-A Shmel to suit local operational requirements. Some
sources report that the PF-97 was introduced in 2000 and is currently used by the Chinese
army. This weapon is used by specialized flamethrower squads, that
support in combat advancing regular infantry. Smaller and less powerful
WPF-89-1 and WPF-89-2 thermobaric rocket launchers with 80
mm bore were developed in China. These are derivatives of
anti-tank rocket launcher. However it seems that these thermobaric
weapons were not adopted by the Chinese army and are offered only
for export. The PF-97 is also it is being offered for export
The PF-97 launcher
has a 93 mm bore and uses
a cylindrical 93x700 mm rocket, which is built into the launcher.
The rocket weights 3.5 kg and contains 2.1 kg of
thermobaric filler, which
is released as an atomized cloud by a small precursor charge
employing a conventional high explosive compound. In this cloud-like
form, the main filler combusts on contact with the air.
It uses oxygen from the surrounding and generates abnormally high pressure and
high temperature explosion.
intense incendiary and blast effects over a large area. Fireball has
a radius of over 6 m, and a casualty radius is 50 m. Blast of the
PF-97 rocket is equal in power to that of a 107 mm artillery piece,
or around 4 kg of TNT, which is substantial for such a small
munition. The rocket has a kill radius of 80 m³ in confined areas
and 50 m³ in open areas.
The effects of the blast on personnel are generally
the same as those of basic high explosives, but with substantially
greater trauma associated with blast overpressure; this includes
internal hemorrhaging, ruptured internal organs (especially the
lungs), and even broken bones, and these effects are especially
pronounced and brutal against personnel inside confined areas, such
as buildings, trenches or pillboxes.
The rocket can also be devastating
against vehicles, especially thin-skinned vehicles like trucks, and
any armored fighting vehicles with open hatches. However heavily armored vehicles that are buttoned-up are unlikely to
sustain any internal damage. If the PF-97 hits the underside of a
wheeled armored fighting vehicle (or the ground very near it), it
will likely blow most of the tires and wheels off. Tracked armor is
much less vulnerable to the rocket, but there is little doubt that
any tank track could be severed by a direct hit.
This weapon is extremely effective against hostile troops located in
bunkers, buildings, pillboxes, fortified structures, underground
tunnels, caves, and trenches. However destructive power
of the PF-97 rocket is lower than that of dedicated bunker busting
projectiles. The PF-97 is also extremely effective against unarmored
and lightly armored vehicles.
It can be used against vehicle convoys and so on.
This weapon is also
suitable for some other missions. It can be used against parked
aircraft, radar dishes, and other similar targets.
the rocket is launched, the empty launcher is discarded.
So the PF-97
exceptionally effective for clearing-out enemies in closed terrain,
without having to risk close quarters combat with an enemy that is
likely waiting in ambush.
The soldier using the PF-97 is much less vulnerable to hostile fire
than soldier with traditional flow-stream flamethrower.
Some other 93 mm rockets are being offered for export, including
several anti-armor rockets.
The PF-97 is a simple-to-use weapon. Verry little training is
required prior to using this weapons. Simple instructions are
printed on the side of the launcher.
Launcher of the PF-97 is watertight. An
operator can carry 2 of these rocket launchers clamped together. The
pack of 2 loaded launchers weights 24 kg.
Original version of the PF-97 had simple flip-up sights, similar to
those of the RPO-A. This weapon had a signting range of 600 m. However
a production improved version, PF-97A, was fitted with a
simple clip-up optical sight.
Chinese sources report that effective range of this weapon is 200 m, though the rocket itself will fly out to
a maximum range of 850 m. Interestingly the Soviet RPO-A has an
effective range of 300 m and the rocket will reportedly fly out to 1
000 m. So it could be either a mistake, or the Chinese weapon is
slightly less powerful.
PF-97A is a production improved version, fitted with a simple
clip-up optical sight instead of iron sights. Once the rocket is
launched, the optical sight is removed from the empty tube and can
on another tube. This weapon was reportedly finalized in 2008. The
PF-97A is currently used by the Chinese army.