OTs-14 "Thunderstorm": the most unusual Russian machine
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Russian special forces have developed an effective algorithm for acting in twos: while the first number works directly as a sniper using standard SVD or other long-barreled weapons, the second covers the first with a highly mobile, versatile and at the same time powerful complex, such as OTs-14 Thunderstorm.
Over the "Storm" for a long time hung an aura of mystery and secrecy. The reason for this was the small number of issued copies and, accordingly, the limited distribution of the complex. A certain role in the “PR” of the OTs-14 was played by the computer game STALKER. In it, “Thunderstorm” was called “Thunder-C14” and was one of the most powerful weapons. Due to the specific appearance and good performance characteristics in the game, many players chased after it. The interest in the Tula model among the audience enthusiastic about weapons led to the appearance of its airsoft model, produced by Asian manufacturers. Needless to say, the unique and not familiar combat transformer certainly deserves a review in Popular Mechanics.
Kalash inside out
Thunderstorm was created in the early 1990s by V.N. Telesham and Yu.V. Lebedev in Tula, at the Central Design and Research Bureau of Sports and Hunting Weapons (TsKIB MTR). The developers sought to create a melee weapon, combining high penetration ability and a modular design with maximum compactness and mobility.
The new complex was based on the compact version of the AKS-74U Kalashnikov assault rifle that has proven itself in the airborne forces. The length of this “assault” assault rifle with the stock folded is slightly less than half a meter, with the spread out - about 75 cm. To reduce the length of the weapon, but not to “fold” the stock, it was decided to use a bullpup scheme in the new assault rifle, in which the store is located behind handle, not in front of it. In order not to make significant changes to the design of the weapon body, the recoil pad, which replaced the stock, was fixed directly on the rear wall of the receiver. As a result, the most compact version of the “Thunderstorm” received a length of just over 60 cm. The use of an automatic machine already in service made it possible to significantly unify the two samples, as a result of which 70% of their parts are interchangeable. And along with these 70 percent, Thunderstorm inherited the legendary reliability of AK.
Creating OTs-14, the designers strove to integrate the grenade launcher into the complex in the best way. The difficulty was balancing the weapons. There were complaints from the army units and power structures: when installing the GP-25 grenade launcher (namely, it was planned to use it for the OTs-14) on the Kalashnikov assault rifle, its front part became too heavy, making it difficult to fire from the AK itself.
The problem was solved without weighting the back of the machine, but by lightening the grenade launcher, depriving it of a pistol grip, trigger guard and trigger itself. The “Thunderstorm” descent is only one, but on the left side of the receiver there is an AB / GR rotary switch that allows you to choose whether to fire with bullets or grenades.
The case was not limited to a grenade launcher. Since the weapons were originally planned as a modular complex, the most flexible in use, the “Thunderstorm” turned out to be a real weapon transformer. The grenade launcher module is removable. If you remove it and install the front tactical handle, Thunderstorm becomes an assault rifle, which is convenient to fight at short and medium distances.
Another option is a special machine. In this configuration, a silent firing device (PBS) and an optical sight are installed on the base machine, and the Storm turns into a secret operation weapon. With its help, you can eliminate the protection of the object, silently destroy the enemy group without giving out your location, and at the same time be at a considerable distance from the enemy using optics. In addition, the “silencer” makes the OTs-14 a very convenient weapon for working at night, because it eliminates not only the sound of a shot, but also a muzzle flash. In addition, since there is no flash, the weapon does not blind the shooter himself if he works with a night vision device.
Obviously, for the compactness and flexibility of Thunderstorm, the bullpup system should be thanked. The complex owes it to its own shortcomings, the main of which is a strong gas contamination in the area of the shooter's face, due to the displacement of the trigger mechanism closer to the shoulder. During shooting, you have to press your cheek directly to the receiver.
For similar reasons, the OTs-14 does not allow firing from the left shoulder - in this case, the shells would fly right in the face. A short sighting line complicates the aiming somewhat. Although the latter is associated more with a small overall length of the weapon, and not with the features of the layout. On the other hand, these shortcomings are not too significant in close combat in urban conditions with a large number of shelters and short distances. And precisely for this the “Thunderstorm” complex is intended. In conditions of limited space, the shooter receives a powerful and compact weapon, which allows you to count on an advantage in battle.
Due to the modular design, “Thunderstorm” also allows you to reduce the weight and size of portable weapons. In one sample, the operative actually receives three different weapons. This reduces the load on the fighter, making him and the whole group more mobile.
The ammunition used in OTs-14 is no less remarkable than the complex itself. We are talking about powerful intermediate cartridges 9 x 39 mm (SP-5, SP-6 and PAB9). This ammunition is known primarily because it is used in Russian special weapons - automatic submachine guns "Val", 9A-91, SR-3 "Whirlwind", sniper rifles VSS "Vintorez" and VSK-94.
9 x 39 - a very unusual cartridge. It has a subsonic speed of departure from the barrel, and therefore it can be used as efficiently as possible in weapons equipped with a silent firing device. At the same time, the sound of the shot is weakened so much that the click is indistinguishable from a few tens of meters, and in a battle or a noisy urban environment, determining the location of a shooter becomes almost impossible.
However, this is only one of its advantages. Another huge plus of the 9 x 39 cartridge is a long and heavy nine-millimeter bullet with a powerful stopping effect. In addition, in the SP-6 version, the bullet has a heat-strengthened steel core inside, which provides penetration of 8 mm thick steel plates and 3rd-class bulletproof vests according to the Russian classification (3rd grade is armor that protects against AK bullets with a caliber of 7.62 ) With such a cartridge, the Storm becomes an almost perfect melee weapon, including against an enemy protected by body armor and a helmet.
In addition to the 9 x 39 mm version for ammunition, the OTs-14 modification was also developed for the AK 7.62 cartridge. It did not receive wide distribution due to the fact that the performance characteristics of the ammunition did not quite correspond to the tasks performed with the automatic grenade launcher system. After all, the “Thunderstorm” was planned to be used precisely for combat at short distances, including in confined spaces, and the intermediate cartridge 7.62 in this case is redundant, since it has a firing range of 600-800 m, and in confined spaces it can give a strong rebound. In addition, AK bullets are more focused on the enemy lumbago, rather than stopping and instant disabling. 9 x 39 mm in this case is optimal.
The OTs-14 “Thunderstorm” automatic grenade launcher system was produced in limited quantities. The option for a 9 x 39 mm cartridge was adopted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in 1996 and is still used by special police units. The complex comes in a large hard case, which, in addition to the machine itself, contains a grenade launcher, a silent firing device, an additional barrel with a front handle, an optical sight, two spare magazines and a gun belt.The article “Thunderstorm” of terrorists was published in the magazine Popular Mechanics (No. 12, December 2015).