The SPG-9 is a recoilless rifle designed by the Soviet Union and brought into service in 1962 under the nomenclature of Kopye (Spear). It fires a 73mm projectile that travels at speeds of up to 700 meters per second and is stabilized by an expanding fin system like that of an RPG-7 projectile. The weapon system can be employed on a tripod or be mounted on a vehicle and only takes a minute or two to set-up and fire. The SPG-9 utilizes High Explosive and High Explosive Anti-Tank rounds to defeat armored targets or bunkered positions.
The round is incredibly powerful with an initial velocity of around 400 meters per second achieved from the ignition of a small launch charge. After the first 20 meters, the follow-on rocket motor ignites propelling it forward. This again is very similar to the RPG-7 with an initial charge propelling it before a secondary carries it onto the target. The SPG-9 has a maximum effective range of 800 meters but is capable of reaching distances of up to 6,500 meters with enough disregard for the target. Because the weapon system is manually breech loaded from the rear, the rate of fire is only around 5-6 rounds per minute with a trained crew (1 loader, 1 gunner). With a weight of around 100lbs by itself and around 131lbs with a tripod, the SPG-9 is a, relatively, light weapon system for vehicle transport.
While the SPG-9 requires more skill to use effectively (especially at longer ranges) when compared to the RPG-7, it is far more devastating on hard targets. The Peshmerga typically have employed the SPG-9 through the bed of their technicals (a small pick-up truck) and occasionally larger vehicles to target and destroy incoming Islamic State VBIEDs (Vehicle Born Improvised Explosive Device). It has also been used to defeat cover during offensive operations to reclaim ISIS occupied villages since it can easily defeat the wall of a mud hut or cinder block-based structure. In the video below, Peshmerga are working on their marksmanship with the SPG-9 at a distance of about 400-500 meters.
Featured Image Courtesy of Polanksy kolbe [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons
*Originally published on SOFREP