Flamethrowers are usually handheld devices which have now been banned for use against humans - Representational image Stringer/Reuters

Russia is building a flamethrower for use in battle. Called the "Tosochka", it is described as a heavy flamethrowing system and will be installed on a wheeled-chassis platform.

Russia's Splav Research and Production Association will build a prototype first, reported Russian news outlet Tass. "The Splav Research and Production Association is carrying out work to develop a prototype of the Tosochka new-generation heavy flamethrowing system for preliminary trials. The system with the improved characteristics will be mounted on a wheeled chassis," a release stated.

At this time, it is unclear as to the size, range and even what kind of propellant the Russians are going to use in this flamethrower. It is also not clear if Russia actually plans on fielding this weapon if it passes the prototype phase.

Flamethrowers, or "incendiary weapons", are not actually allowed to be used in war. According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), weapons that are "primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injuries to persons through the action of flame, heat, or a combination thereof, produced by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on the target" are prohibited due to "Protocol III to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects".

However, a report by Task and Purpose on banned weapons mentioned that flamethrowers can still be used by the military to clear foliage like grass or weeds, but they cannot be used as a weapon to hurt or maim the enemy. This is one of the reasons why the purpose behind the development of a "next-gen heavy flamethrowing system" is not really clear.

In recent times, Russia has started to develop and showcase more conventional weapons systems alongside advanced automated weapons. A sniper rifle that is redefining the concept of "safe distance" has been developed which covers over 2,000 yards – this is just one example of an update of a seemingly conventional weapon.

Last year, Splav introduced the Proryv project to expand its production capacities and this Tosokcha flamethrower is part of this programme. The company also reportedly acquired a new workshop from where serial production of shells for the Tornado S multiple-launch rocket system will be made. The workshop is set to begin production in 2019, noted the report.