The Tishina grenade launcher was developed by TSNIITOCHMASH on request of the GRU (General Intelligence Department of the General Staff, Soviet Army). It was intended for Spetsnaz units, operating behind enemy lines. During the height of the Cold War one of most important tasks of the GRU Spetsnaz in case of war going ‘hot’ in Europe was to destroy various critical installations behind enemy lines, including fuel and ammunition storage dumps, communications and radar equipment, parked tactical aircrafts and tactical and AA missile launchers. To increase chances of Spetsnaz operators for safe retreat after successful strike on critical enemy equipment, GRU requested development of “noiseless” (reduced sound and flash signature) grenade launchers, which would not give away exact position of the attacking force due to suppressed flash and sound of discharge. Early weapons of this type, such as Device D and Device DM, were stand-alone units, using special captive piston ammunition which either fired 9mm steel bullets or propelled 30mm HE-Incendiary grenades at ranges of up to 100 meters . Those stand-alone weapons, developed by KGB engineers, were heavy, bulky and expensive, and GRU wanted more compact and versatile equipment.
The 6P15 “Tishina” (Silence) system was the answer to those needs, developed by TSNIITOCHMASH under top secret research and development program codenamed “Tishina”. Adopted in 1975, this system consisted of the Kalashnikov AKMS rifle, equipped with PBS-1 screw-on sound suppressor, special rear sight and AG-018 / 6G16 (developer designation АГ-018, GRAU index 6Г16) 30mm Tishina grenade launcher, which fired BMYa-31 “Yasheritsa” (БМЯ-31 «Ящерица» – Lizard) projectile with high explosive / incendiary shaped charge .
The 6G16 flash- and noiseless grenade launcher is unusual in the fact that it is both muzzle- and breech-loaded. The standard projectile is a specially designed 30mm BMYa-31 Armor Piercing – Incendiary grenade with pre-engraved rifling. The warhead is designed to penetrate hulls of tactical ballistic missile launchers or aircrafts, containers with C&C equipment, and cause enough damage to render the target inoperative or cause internal fire if it struck a fuel tank. Grenade is loaded into the barrel from the muzzle and held there by three retaining springs. The grenade with pre-engraved rifling has no propelling system in itself. Launch of grenade is performed by special blank cartridges, which are loaded into detachable box magazine. Magazine fits into the pistol grip of the launcher. Cartridges are fed into the chamber by manually operated rifle-type rotary bolt action mechanism. To achieve the noise- and flash-less launch, blank cartridges are discharged into the limited volume breech, which is fitted with movable telescopic piston at the front. Upon discharge, this piston violently pushes the grenade, loaded into the muzzle part of the launcher, out of the barrel, and then stops and seals the expanding powder gases inside the rear part of the launcher’s barrel. After a short while pressure inside drops to safe level and gun can be reloaded by operating the bolt (to extract spent blank and load a fresh launching cartridge) and then loading the new grenade from the muzzle.
The muzzle velocity of the 30mm grenade for 6G16 version is quoted as 105 m/s. BMYa-31 grenade was capable of penetrating 10 mm of steel and then cause significant damage to equipment behind, or to ignite fuel or other flammable liquids. Grenade launcher is attached to special brackets, semi-permanently mounted to the barrel of the host AKMS. Special folding and adjustable rear sight is required to fire grenade launcher accurately. It is mounted to the rear sight base of the host rifle.
6G16 Tishina grenade launcher is attached to the AKMS rifle using its bayonet lug on the barrel as a front base, and special bracket, attached to the barrel and hidden inside a modified handguard as a rear base.
Ammunition: 7.62×39 PHS-19 launching blanks + BMYa-31 HE-I grenade
Weight, launcher only, with empty magazine: 1.9 kg
Magazine capacity: 8 blank rounds
Effective range: up to 400 meters