Cookie Consent by Privacy Policies Generator

M72 LAW



Overview


M72 LAW

American soldier with LAW in firing position. Note that the tube is extended and the sights are raised.
Source: US DoD - © Public domain

Origin
United States
Type
Rocket launcher (disposable)
Entered service
1963
Status
In service
Development
1959 to 1961
Developer
United States - Norris Thermadore
Production
1963 - present
Producer
United States - Talley
Norway - NAMMO Raufoss
Turkey - MKEK
Unit cost
$ 135 for M72A1 in 1978
$ 2.250 for M72A7 in 2005
$ 2.000 for M72A7 in 2010
Number produced
Over 7 million
Designations
LAW | Light Anti-tank Weapon
Rocket 66 mm HEAT L1A1 (UK service)
LASM / Light Anti-Structure Munition (M72A9 in UK service)
66 KES 75 (Finland, M72A2)
66 KES 88 (Finland, M72A5)
66 KES 12 (Finland, M72 EC)
6.6cm PAR 67 (Austrian service)
HAR-66 / Hafif Antitank Roketi 66mm (Turkey)
Lança Granadas Foguete 66mm M/978 (Portugese service)

Description


Introduction

The M72 LAW is an early Cold War era disposable 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 rear sight.

Firepower

The original 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 subsequent 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


First generation (M72 - M72A3)

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 safety features.

Second generation (M72A4 to M72A7)

The M72A4 was the first LAW to use an improved launcher assembly. The new launcher functions in the same 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.

Anti-structures munitions (M72A9 to M72A10)

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 1 kg 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".

Details


Facts M72 M72A2 M72A3 M72A4 M72A5 M72A6 M72A9
General
Origin
United States
Type
Rocket launcher
Crew
1
Lifespan
Disposable launcher
Dimensions
Weight
2.3 kg
Tube length
881 mm extended
630 mm retracted
Warhead
Diameter
66 mm
Warhead type
Single HEAT
Penetration
Over 200 mm RHA
Velocity
About 150 m/s
Range
200 m
Accessories
Sights
Mechanical

Related articles


AT4

In American service the M72 LAW was replaced in the anti-tank role by the Swedish AT4.

RPG-18 Mukha

The Soviet RPG-18 was developed as a counterpart to the American M72 LAW.

SARPAC

The French SARPAC has a similar size and role. Unlike the LAW it was unsuccessful.