Field sources have spotted Russia’s thermobaric “vacuum bomb” on the outskirts south of Belgorod, near the border with Ukraine.

The 220mm thermobaric weapon, called Buratino / TOS-1 or TOS-1A is a multiple rocket launcher capable of firing missiles equipped with thermobaric warheads.

So far, there is no evidence that the Russian Armed forces have used Buratino in the Ukrainian conflict.

The Buratino’s missiles do not use conventional ammunition, instead the missiles are filled with high-pressure, high-temperature explosives. They are also called “vacuum bombs” since they absorb oxygen from the surrounding air and in the process create a powerful explosion in the form of a pressure wave, which can have devastating consequences.

According to Human Rights Watch, thermobaric weapons have previously been used in Chechnya.

About Buratino

Images uploaded on social media of the Russian Buratino suggests that this an older version of the TOS, which can fire 24 missiles through its barrels with very short interval between shots.

The TOS is a product of engineers from the Soviet era. It has been in production and in use since the late 80s of the last century to the present day. The Russian Armed forces also has the newer TOC-1A, which is in production from 2003 to today; the TOC-1A is capable of firing 30 rocket missiles at the same time, compared to 24 of its predecessor.

However, Russia has deployed the TOS-1, which is mounted on the chassis of a T-72 tank. The caliber of the rocket launchers is 220 mm and 24 missiles can be fired in just 15 seconds. The weapon system is manned by 3 people and can hit targets at a distance between 500 to 3,500 meters.

The TOS-1 is powered by a V-84 diesel engine providing a power of 840 hp and 630 kW.

It can travel at a speed of 60 km / h and has a mile range of 550 km with a full tank.

The TOS-1 has been widely deployed in many conflicts  including the Russo-Afghan war, the Chechen war, the Nagorno-Karabakh war, the war in Iraq and in Syria, and presently in Donbas.