Shoulder launch: more than ever, light, shoulder-launched weapons are proving their worth in built-up areas. However, a number of them are being optimized to enable the soldier on foot to deal with constructions rather than armour. They now include wall breakers, door smashers and high-pressure generators.
Talley Defense Systems, recently acquired by Nammo of Norway, is producing 3000 thermobaric Mk 80 NE (Novel Explosive) thermobaric rockets for its 83-mm Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (Smaw) in service with the US Marine Corps under a $ 14 million contract awarded in October 2006. <<The Smaw, particularly with the thermobaric round, has proven to be one of the most effective weapons used during urban combat in Iraq,>> wrote a Marine Corps infantry officer in the April 2007 Marine Corps Gazette. "Many observers have pointed them out as one of if not the key infantry weapon during the battle of Fallujah in November 2004 and have recommended that the numbers be increased so that one can be provided in support of each squad." The Smaw, based on the IMI B-300, has been in US Marine Corps service for 20 years and was previously used with the high explosive, dual-purpose (HEDP) rocket against bunkers, masonry and concrete walls, and light armour and high explosive anti-armour rockets against AFVs. The Smaw-NE was developed and fielded by Talley, the Naval Surface Warfare Center and the Marine Corps Systems Command in response to an urgent corps request in 2002, and the first 400 rockets were deployed in Iraq in March 2003.
Talley used the HEDP rocket to develop the XM141 Disposable Smaw (Smaw-D) to meet a US Army requirement for a Bunker Defeat Munition. The Smaw-D is said to be fully operational at eleven metres. Several thousand rounds were produced in the late 1990s and, since the start of the War on Terror, Talley has produced several thousand more to replace weapons used to attack bunkers and caves in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Smaw-D weighs 7.26 kg in an 813-mm-long launch tube.
The Marine Corps' Follow-on to Smaw programme, with an estimated value of $ 360 million over 20 years, is comprised of three acquisition phases: a new launcher to replace the Smaw, a fire-from-enclosure (FFE) round and a wall-breaching round. During the period FY06 to 09 the service plans to competitively select and qualify a new launcher with production to commence in FY10. The introduction of an FFE/wall-breaching round is planned for FY13. The Corps expects to acquire approximately 1052 launchers and/or 143,000 rounds of ammunition. The team of General Dynamics, Dynamit Nobel and Rafael are offering a weapon based on the Dynamit Nobel Panzerfaust 90 while Lockheed Martin is teamed with IMI to offer a design based on the Israeli company's Shipon.
The IMI shoulder-launched Shipon UT uses the combat-proven S-300/Smaw propulsion system to deliver anti-tank and anti-fortification/anti-personnel rockets to a range of 600 metres. The bunker buster is designed to penetrate walls and explode inside the target for maximum effect. The fire control system, which incorporates a laser rangefinder, ballistics and fuze control processor and night vision capability, is the only reusable element mounted on the disposable launch canister. The Shipon weighs nine kg ready to launch. Extended range rockets are also under development.
Nammo's acquisition of Talley will consolidate the work the two companies do on the venerable 66 mm M72 Light Anti-armour Weapon (Law). The US company produces the M72A4, A5 and A6 Improved Laws and the newer A7 model. The US Department of Defense has bought the M72A6, which combines a lower penetration capability with an enhanced blast effect for use in urban operations in Iraq, and more than 10,000 M72A7s. Talley is working on a Next-Generation Law family that will consist of three models: the M72E8, which combines the M72A7 warhead with a confined space propulsion system, the M72E9 is a high-penetration weapon intended to be used against armoured vehicles and the M72E10 has a blast/fragmentation warhead for use against personnel.
Nammo developed the M72 EC (Enhanced Capacity) Law and the M72 ASM RC (Anti-Structure Munition Reduced Calibre). The EC Law, which was qualified in 2006, offers an improved launcher and warhead and a new dual safety fuse. The M72 ASM RC uses the same launcher and rocket motor as the EC Law. The firer can select either the 'superquick' mode to make a large hole in a double brick wall or the 'delay' mode for the warhead to penetrate the wall and explode inside. Nammo expects that the M72 ASM RC will be qualified by the end of this year.
The Saab Bofors Dynamics 84-mm AT4, known in America as the M136, is the US Army's standard light anti-armour weapon. Recent variants include the AT4CS (Confined Space) and the high-penetration AT4CS HE which can punch through more than 500 mm of armour.
The French and Danish armies have bought the Saab Bofors AT4CS HP, while Britain and the United States have bought quantities (over 6000 units) for urgent operational needs; America's purchase was a result of a previously successful foreign comparative test. The AT4CS Heat RS (Reduced Sensitivity) rocket was also developed at the request of the Special Operations Command. On 30 May 2007 the US Marine Corps Systems Command announced an award of $ seven million to Saab Bofors Dynamics for the production, testing and delivery of 3500 M136 weapons, although it did not specify which variants. Options could take the value of the contract to more than $ 40.35 million.
The US Army has allocated $ 3.88 million under the Department of Defense's Foreign Comparative Testing programme between FY06 and FY08 to evaluate an Enhanced Blast Tandem Warhead for the AT4 CS for use in urban operations. Preliminary weapons were delivered earlier this year for a ten-month test programme expected to lead to an initial programme review in February 2008. The army has indicated a potential requirement for 5000 weapons annually.
Also under the FCT programme the Special Operations Command (Socom) has secured funding between FY05 and FY07 for Saab Bofors Dynamics to develop a Multi-Target (MT) round for its 84-mm Carl Gusaf recoilless rifle, which is in service as the Multi-Role Anti-armor Anti-personnel
Weapon System (Maaws). The new round is based upon the Heat 751 tandem warhead with a follow-through charge optimised for use in urban/built-up areas. Socom has stipulated that the MT warhead must penetrate 30 cm of triple brick and 20 cm of reinforced concrete to provide a 'kill-behind-wall' capability. Qualification testing began earlier this year leading to a Milestone C production decision expected to be for 5000 rounds and worth an initial $ eleven million. Further orders are anticipated between FY09 and FY11.
Dynamit Nobel developed the Bunkerfaust (Bkf) munition at the request of the German Army so that it could use the company's Panzerfaust 3 (Pzf 3) anti-armour system, which has been in German Army service since 1999, to defeat targets behind walls. The 40 million [euro] plus contract placed by the Netherlands in late 2004 for the Pzf 3 included 1500 Bkf muntions. The standard Pzf 3 Heat warhead incorporates an extendable spike that detonates the shaped charge at the optimal standoff distance from vehicles enabling it to penetrate more than 800 mm of armour. When the spike is retracted the warhead acts like a Hesh round thus causing significantly more damage to walls.
British forces are using the AT4 CS as an interim measure until the introduction in 2009 of its new Anti-Structure Munition (ASM), which will enable infantry units to 'defeat hardened structures such as buildings or bunkers more precisely and safely, and without recourse to artillery or air support'.
Dynamit Nobel was selected in February 2006 to develop, supply and support the ASM in a programme expected to be worth about 40 million [pounds sterling] in the first five years. The ASM is based the 90-mm Matador (Man-portable Anti-Tank, Anti-DOOR) that Dynamit Nobel had developed for the Singapore Armed Forces. The 9.8-kg weapon, marketed internationally as the Panzerfaust 90, is designed for use in urban operations. Its multi-purpose warhead, designed by parent company Rafael, is effective against fortifications and armoured vehicles to a maximum range of 500 metres and in the delay mode the warhead punches a hole larger than 450 mm diameter in a triple-brick wall. The ASM for the British Army can be programmed before launch to achieve either a maximum breaching effect or a greater behind-armour effect.
Dynamit Nobel and Rafael offer additional options for urban operations. The Matador WB (Wall Breacher) uses a new 'explosively formed ring' warhead to blast a 75 to 100-cm hole in a double-brick wall. Two munitions will blast a hole in a triple-brick wall or a double-reinforced concrete wall. The weapon has a range of 20 to 100 metres. The Fots Mauler is broadly similar to the ASM with an effective range between ten and 400 metres. German forces are equipped with Dynamit Nobel's 60 mm RGW 60 (Recoilless Grenade Weapon); essentially a scaled-down Pzf 90 weighing 5.8 kg. It is available with three warheads: a shaped charge Heat projectile, a multi-purpose Heat warhead that can penetrate over 100 mm of RHA and has 270 preformed fragments and a high-explosive squash head (Hesh) designed to punch a 400-mm hole in masonry. A Picatinny rail allows a night sight to be fitted.
Simon Door Crasher
The US Army's version of the Rafael Simon is known as the M100 Grenade Rifle Entry Munition (Grem) and is now in full production. Small numbers of the munition were first fielded with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Iraq in March 2006, and later in the year the US Army selected it as one of the top ten greatest inventions in 2005 for service use. Gone are the days when a soldier had to expose himself by running across a street to place charges against a door to blow it off.With the Simon, this is done by firing the weapon, which is inserted into one's rifle, from the other side of the street, and if possible from a concealed position. The M100 is launched from standard 5.56-mm assault rifles or from the M16A2 rifle or M4 carbine using standard M855 ball or M856 tracer ammunition. The Simon (or the Grem) is prepared by attaching a standoff rod to the munition and then sliding the munition over the rifle's muzzle.
It can be fired at ranges of between 10 and 40 metres from a door and, whereas the standard Simon features a warhead with 150 grams of explosive, the Grem warhead contains 120 grams of insensitive explosive. The standoff rod detonates the munition at the correct distance from the door to ensure that the blast is dissipated across the door's surface, blowing it inwards. Soldiers tasked to use the M100 will carry two munitions and a buttpad which is fitted to their weapon before firing to absorb the additional recoil. The army plans to buy approximately 8000 Grems and 50,000 Grem-Target Practice munitions each year. The Simon is in service with the Israel Defense Force and the armies of Canada and Britain, and Rafael has recently developed a version that can be fired from the Nexter Famas and other short-barrel 5.56-mm assault rifles.
US Marine Corps after action-reports often describe the M1014 Joint Service Combat Shotgun, developed by Benelli Armi of Italy as M4 Super 90, as a 'door buster'. The marines received the first 400 in November 2002 of a planned buy of 3997 weapons. Following the designation of the weapon as a joint-service project further orders are expected to equip the army, navy, air force and coast guard, thus replacing all other shotguns now in service. The semi-automatic weapon is fed from a tubular magazine that holds six twelve-gauge rounds. Ammunition types include rifled slugs, buckshot, birdshot, 'lock buster' and CS rounds. The weapon weighs 3.8 kg with an empty magazine and features a stock which can be extended increasing the weapon's length from 88.6 to 101 cm. It features a MIL-STD1913 Picatinny rail interface on the top so various day and night sights and other accessories can be mounted.
Illustrating the fact that insurgents adapt to new tactics, former Congressman Marty Meehan, then a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee indicated, <<The past few months have seen a drastic rise in US fatalities as a result of small arms fire, including insurgent snipers. Data indicates that small arms fire accounted for 19.7% of American fatalities in April of 2006 while in October that number had ballooned to 43%>>. Meehan was urging the Department of Defense to consider the deployment of more systems such as the BBN Technologies Boomerang Mobile Acoustic Shooter Detection System. Darpa and the US Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory jointly sponsored the development of the Boomerang, which is derived from BBN's earlier Acoustic Counter-Sniper System. Mounted on a short mast the Boomerang's microphones detect bullets passing within approximately 30 metres by the shock wave that a flying round creates and the muzzle blast from the guilty weapon. The system calculates the distance, direction and azimuth to the source of the gunfire and in less than a second the system delivers the information by a voice announcement and a display on an LED monitor. The Boomerang is not activated when shots are fired from the vehicle and was designed to minimise false alarms caused by non-ballistic events such as door slams, tactical radio, vehicle traffic and urban activity. Approximately 100 Boomerang units were deployed for field testing in Iraq by the end of 2006 and BBN has used this feedback to develop the improved Boomerang III model. The company is currently working on a man-portable version.
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|Title Annotation:||Complete Guide|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2007|
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