Russia is developing a new heavy flame-throwing system called TOS-1 Buratino equipped with a multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon, according to report from Sputnik News.

Russia Developing New Flame-Throwing System Called TOS-1 Buratino

The TOS-1 Buratino is among the new weapons and arms systems under development in Russia amid an increasing regional tension, which was ignited by the Ukraine conflict.

The tensions between Russia and its neighboring countries increased over the past few months after the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine engaged in nearly open war with the Ukrainian forces despite the Minsk agreement.

Russia also threatened to expand its military presence along its borders in response to the buildup of NATO in Eastern Europe.

Vladimir Tikhonov, the director of Tekhmach Corporation, confirmed that they started developing the new TOS-1 Buratino under the instruction of the Defense Ministry of Russia.

According to Tikhonov, “The development, which is currently at its initial stage, should go rather speedily, and we should be able to deliver the new product in a few years.”

Tekhmach Corporation built the first TOS-1 Buratino, which was named after the main character of the book The Golden Key or the Adventures of Buratino by Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoy. The original TOS-Buratino was first used or tested in the late 1980s when the Soviet invaded Afghanistan.

The first TOS-1 Buratino has a 220mm multiple rocket launcher, and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. It was designed to overcome the enemy in fortifications, open country, lightly armored vehicles and transport. It had chassis, rotary launch system with 30 tubes for unguided missiles, and fire control system with ballistic computer, aiming site and laser range finder.

Russia’s new TOS-1 Buratino will be more powerful

According to Tikhonov, Russia’s new TOS-1 Buratino will be equipped with more powerful mortar shells (82mm caliber) and better range than the original version of the flame-throwing system.

Tikhonov said, “The development of the new mortar shells is at its final stage. The new shells will have an improved range, power, and lethality. They will have the new type of gunpowder, propellant bursting charge and detonating fuze.” He is also hoping the testing will be finished by the end of this year.

Russia is a very significant threat

Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Russia is a “very significant threat” to the national security of the United States.

During a Pentagon press conference, Carter concurred with the assessment of top military officials that Russia is an existential threat to the United States given the size of its nuclear arsenal.

According to him, “That’s not new. What’s new—and I think they were pointing to and where I agree with them—is that for a quarter century or so, since the end of Cold War, we have not regarded Russia as antagonist.”

Carter added, “Vladimir Putin‘s Russia behaves, in many respects, in some respects and very important respects, as an antagonist. That is new. That is something, therefore, that we need to adjust to and counter.”

According to him, the Pentagon has a “strong and balanced” strategy to counter Russia. He explained that the strong part of the strategy means they are adjusting their “capabilities qualitative and in terms of their deployments” while taking account of Russia’s behavior. Carter also stated that they are working with NATO in a new playbook.

Furthermore, Carter explained that the balanced part in the strategy is to “continue to work with Russia.” He said, “You can’t paint all their behavior with one brush. There are places where they are working with us: in counterterrorism in many important respects. So where Russia sees its interests as aligned with ours, we can work with them and will continue to do that.”