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FHJ-84

Double-barrel incendiary rocket launcher

FHJ-84

China's FHJ-84 is a stand-off infantry incendiary weapon, with a distinct twin-tube design

 
 
Country of origin China
Entered service 1984
Caliber 62 mm
Weight (unloaded) 8 kg
Weight (loaded) 18 kg
Rocket weight 5 kg 18 kg
Length 1.2 m
Muzzle velocity ~ 126 m/s
Rate of fire 6 rpm
Sighting range ?
Range of effective fire 200 m
Maximum range 500 m

 

   The FHJ-84 is an incendiary rocket launcher manufactured in China by NORINCO. Intended to engage targets traditionally dealt-with using flamethrowers, it has a much longer range, allowing the user to attack from a relatively safer distance. The most distinctive feature of the FHJ-84 is its over/under twin-barrel layout. Its full People's Liberation Army (PLA) designation is rather interesting, literally meaning "Type 84 infantry 62 millimeter anti-chemical rocket". The implication of this description is that the FHJ-84 is meant to be used to neutralize chemical weapon contamination, but while stockpiles of some chemical agents can be destroyed by burning them, neutralizing those already dispersed typically requires special chemical compounds. As only incendiary and smoke-laying munitions for the FHJ-84 have been noted, it would appear that the "FHJ" designation is deliberately misleading.

   Most of the details of the FHJ-84's origins and development have never been published; to the West, this weapon simply seemed to "appear" in the late 1980s, and little publicly released information on the system has so far been forthcoming from the PLA. What little is known is that the FHJ-84's projectiles were developed from those of the Type 70-1, a 62 mm anti-tank rocket launcher fielded in the mid-1970s.

   The FHJ has a distinctive twin-tube design in an "over-under" configuration, with a small gap between the launch tubes. The tubes are joined by three brackets, one each at the front of the muzzle and the back of the venturi, and one far aft at the front of the venturi. The aft ends of the launch tubes are wrapped in thin metal jackets. Swivels for a canvas sling are fitted to the right side of the weapon on the upper tube, located on the right side of the muzzle bracket and the right side of the aft carry handle bracket. The firing unit is rectangular, with an AKM-style pistol grip and trigger group, lending a vaguely pistol-like appearance.

   A prominent ribbed wooden carrying handle is attached to the upper tube by a pair of brackets at either end, and overhangs the weapon in a fixed position. A long bipod is fitted to the bottom of the lower tube, which may be folded against the underside of the weapon when not in use. Interestingly, the bipod's hinge may be rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, allowing the launch tubes to be orientated horizontally when firing from a prone position.

   Projectile of the FHJ-84 was developed from the one used in the Type 70-1 62 mm single-use, single-shot anti-tank rocket launcher. Weapons, such as the FHJ-84, are primarily meant to engage fortifications and enemy personnel holed-up in structures or thick foliage. They can also be employed to great effect against thin-skinned vehicles (such as trucks, jeeps, and field cars). The FHJ-84 can also be used effectively against armored vehicles, though it would require a direct hit on an engine deck, wheels, running gear, or ideally an open hatch, as even the thinnest armor can be expected to defeat this projectile.

   The FHJ-84 can be operated by a single operator, but maintaining its specified rate of fire requires a crew of 2, with the second operator serving as a loader and carrying reload rockets.

   Ammunition is issued in air-tight dark green metal tubes, with a thick orange-colored jacket on the front end. These are typically carried in a twin-tube casing holding two rounds, though individual launch containers may also be loaded. Only the wider front end of the launch container is actually loaded into the weapon, and as a result the FHJ-84 becomes significantly longer and more rear-heavy when loaded.

   Two types of projectiles have been fielded for the FHJ-84; an incendiary round and a smoke-laying round. A single projectile weighs 5 kg. As a result, loading the launcher with two rounds will more than double its weight.

   The filler used in the incendiary projectile is "Pyrogel", a compound that burns at 800-1 000 degrees Celsius. Pyrogel is similar in composition to the more widely known Napalm, but contains metallic compounds that significantly increase its combustion temperature and duration, and also make it much more difficult to extinguish.

   The smoke round for the FHJ-84 is believed to employ a white phosphorous filler. It is the most common filler in smoke-laying munitions, due to its ability to quickly create broad and billowing clouds of extremely thick smoke. As white phosphorus burns at temperatures exceeding 2 760 degrees Celsius, the smoke round also has a substantial incendiary capability (though white phosphorus munitions especially designed to lay smoke usually combust very rapidly, as faster combustion produces more smoke).

   The two projectiles appear to be differentiated with differently-colored stripes, with one type having two red stripes on its midsection, and the other having a red and white stripe (both have a red stripe on the back end). It is unclear which of these are the incendiary or smoke rounds, however.

   A telescopic day sight is fitted to the left side of the upper tube, which may be folded down against the side of the weapon. As little else has been publicized about these optics, their sighting range is effectively unknown.

   The sight only has a 1x power, and consequently offers no magnification, and due to its placement only allows for the weapon to be fired from the left shoulder. The FHJ-84 is rated for an effective range of 200 m against a point target, and a maximum range of 500 m against an area target. The minimum effective range is rated as 25 m; firing a rocket filled with military incendiary agents at a target closer than this distance is inadvisable, for reasons that should be obvious.

   Although the FHJ-84 was initially issued in limited quantities mostly to special forces units, by the 2000s it had been produced in greater quantities, and issued to more conventional formations. If its heavy presence in Chinese military parades is any indication, the FHJ-84 is now extensively employed by PLA combat engineering units and the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Marines.

   The only confirmed users of the FHJ-84 are China and Sri Lanka. Awareness of Sri Lanka's use of this weapon has oddly eluded most defense media as of late 2018, despite publicized photos of Sri Lankan soldiers using the FHJ-84 in training. It is unknown how many other nations use the FHJ-84, or if it will continue to proliferate.

   The production status of the FHJ-84 is unpublished, so it isn't known when production began or ended (assuming it *has* ended), how many were produced, or if it remains in development. As such, this weapon is as shrouded in mystery today as when it was first noticed by Western intelligence agencies.

 

Variants

 

   FHJ-01: This is a second-generation FHJ-84, with an improved day sight, and a new type of incendiary projectile.

   FHJ-02: Man-portable rocket launcher with 7 launch tubes, which is operated by remote control. It is unclear whether this launcher uses the ammunition from the FHJ-84 or the FHJ-01.

 

Similar Weapons

 

   M202 FLASH: Likely the inspiration for the FHJ-84, the US M202 FLASH was one of the first multi-shot man-portable rocket launchers, and one of the first incendiary rocket launchers. It is much larger and bulkier than the FHJ-84, but boasts twice as many launch tubes.

   RPO Rys: This huge Soviet 94 mm rocket launcher fires a large rocket containing 4 liters of napalm, which causes a sizable inferno upon impact. A loaded RPO Rys is also much larger and heavier than even a loaded FHJ-84. It has only a single launch tube.

   RPO-Z: This is basically an RPO-A Shmel with an incendiary filler, rather than it's more familiar thermobaric compound. It performs much like the rocket used in the RPO Rys, though it is filled with Pyrogel rather than napalm. Unlike the M202 FLASH, RPO Rys, or the FHJ-84, the RPO-Z is a single-use weapon.

   DP-64: This Russian weapon is actually a grenade launcher, but it has an "over-under" double barrel configuration which is evocative of the FHJ-84.

 

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