Infantry weapons / Rocket launchers / LAW

LAW

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Rocket launcher

  • ORIGIN
    United States

  • NICKNAMES
    LAW / Light Anti-tank Weapon
    6.6cm PAR 67 (Austrian service)
    66 KES 75 (Finland, M72A2)
    66 KES 88 (Finland, M72A5)
    66 KES 12 (Finland, M72 EC)
    HAR-66 / Hafif Antitank Roketi 66mm (Turkey)
    Lança Granadas Foguete 66mm M/978 (Portugese service)
    LASM / Light Anti-Structure Munition (M72A9 in UK service)
    M72 (US service)
    Rocket 66 mm HEAT L1A1 (UK service)
    Type 66 (Taiwanese service)

  • DESIGNED
    1959 - 1961

  • DESIGNER
    Norris Thermadore

  • PRODUCTION
    1963 - present

  • PRODUCERS
    Sweden - Nammo Raufoss
    Turkey - MKEK
    United States - Talley

  • QUANTITY
    About 7 million

  • UNIT COST
    $ 135 for M72A1 in 1978
    $ 2.250 for M72A7 in 2005
    $ 2.000 for M72A7 in 2010

  • CHARACTERISTICS
    Limited size and weight
    Average range
    Low cost
    Limited armor penetration

Introduction

The LAW is an early Cold War era rocket launcher of US origin. LAW stands for Lightweight Anti-armor Weapon. The LAW is a single shot disposable anti-tank weapon that was developed in the early 1960's for the US Army. Even though it is much smaller and many times lighter it is more capable than M20 Super Bazooka.

Design

The LAW is a single shot disposable rocket launcher. It consists of an aluminum launch tube within a plastic tube on which the sight and controls are fitted. Before firing the inner tube is retracted creating a longer launch tube. A flip up sight is fitted which also aids in range estimation. The trigger is located in the middle of the retracted launcher, just in front of the rearsight.

Firepower

The orignal LAW had a maximum effective range of about 170 meters and would penetrated about 300mm of mild steel. The improved model has an effective range of about 220 meters and will penetrate 355mm RHA. Based on the improved model various versions have been developed which are better suited for urban warfare while having area effect warheads instead of shaped charge warheads.

Users

The main user of the LAW was the US military. The LAW was used by US forces during the Vietnam war and every subsequant conflict. The LAW was widely exported and during the Cold War was used by most NATO nations. Since the 1980's the sales of the LAW decreased as newer anti-armor weapons were needed due to the LAW's limited effectiveness against modern tanks. The LAW remains in use today due to its limited size, weight and increased variety in warheads.

Variants

M72

The first version of the LAW was designated M72 and was quickly followed by the M72A1 with improved rocket motor. The most common versions of the first generation LAW rockets are the M72A2 and M72A3. The M72A2 features a further improved rocket motor that also increases warhead performance. The M72A3 is an M72A2 with additional safeties.

TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length630 mm folded, 881 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight2.3 kg
SightsMechanical
AmmunitionHEAT
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity?
Range
Penetration200+ mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher
TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length665 mm folded, 899 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight2.3 kg
SightsMechanical, reticle front and peep rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionHEAT
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity150 m/s
Range
Penetration300 mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher
TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length665 mm folded, 899 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight2.5 kg
SightsMechanical, reticle front and peep rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionHEAT
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity150 m/s
Range
Penetration300 mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher

M72A4

The M72A4 was the first LAW to use an improved launcher assembly. The new launcher functions in the sam way but is longer and allows for longer rockets. In turn longer rockets allow for more propellant and result in a high velocity and extended range. Besides the extended range the M72A4 also features an improved penetration warhead. The M72A5 uses the new launcher but uses the cheaper warhead as used in the older M72A3. The M72A6 features a warhead with reduced penetration and improved blast effect. The M72A7 is similar to the M72A6 as used by the US Army but is fielded by the US Navy.

TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length775 mm folded, 980 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight3.6 kg
SightsMechanical, three post front and adjustable rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionHEAT
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity200 m/s
Range
Penetration355 mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher
TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length775 mm folded, 980 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight3.6 kg
SightsMechanical, three post front and adjustable rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionHEAT
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity200 m/s
Range
Penetration300 mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher
TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length775 mm folded, 980 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight3.6 kg
SightsMechanical, three post front and adjustable rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionExplosively Formed Penetrator
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity200 m/s
Range
Penetration150 mm RHA
RemarksDisposable launcher

M72A9

The M72A9 was introduced in 2006 and is the latest model in the LAW lineup. In US service it is known as the Anti-Structure Munition (ASM) and in UK service as the Light Anti-Structures Missile (LASM). The M72A9 features a 1kg blast warhead. The M72A10 features a similar warhead as the M72A9 but can also be fired from confined spaces and is less audible upon launch. The M72A10 is referred to as the ASM FFE round, with FFE denoting Fire From Enclosure.

TypeRocket launcher
Crew1
Caliber66 mm
Length775 mm folded, 980 mm extended
Width?
Height?
Weight?
SightsMechanical, three post front and adjustable rearsight, 50 to 350 m gradations
AmmunitionBlast
GuidanceNone, free flight
Velocity?
Range
Penetration?
RemarksDisposable launcher

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