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US Army and USMC Seek Next-Generation Shoulder-Launched Weapon System

More Lethal and Flexible LAW to Begin Fielding in 2022

US Marine Corps Systems Command (MCSC) is looking to field a next-generation, shoulder-fired rocket system that will increase lethality and safety for marines. With guidance from MCSC’s Program Manager for Ammunition (PM AMMO), the Army released a Request for Proposals (RfP) in July for the M72 Light Assault Weapon Fire from Enclosure (LAW FFE) munition. The Army is procuring the system on behalf of MCSC, fulfilling a requirement for the Corps.

The M72 LAW FFE is a compact, lightweight, single-shot weapon system, incorporating an improved launcher and featuring an enhanced in-line trigger mechanism and improved sling design. Managed by PM Ammo, the FFE technology is an upgraded version of the legacy M72 LAW system. The newer system enables Marines to fire several shots per day from inside a room—a capability the legacy system lacked. When firing at night, the flash from the M72 FFE’s muzzle and its back blast are less than that of an M9 pistol.

The ability to fire from an enclosed position, combined with reduced noise and flash, allows Marines to maintain a covered and concealed position, reducing the enemies’ ability to identify the point of origin. “The new LAW FFE is a true Fire-from-an-Enclosure capability, unlike anything the Marine Corps has ever seen,” commented PM AMMO at MCSC, Warren Clare. “It will become a force multiplier.”

The system has two configurations: the M72A8 anti-armour and the M72A10 multi-purpose, anti-structure munition. The former warhead improves armour penetration, while the latter gives Marines the added capability of an anti-structure round capable of eliminating hardened structures, such as buildings.

The M72A10 incorporates an advanced warhead design with a multipurpose explosive and a self-discriminating fuse that operates in either fast- or delay-mode, based on target construction,” explained Richard Dooley, a project officer for Maneuver Ammunition and Missile Programs at PM AMMO. “These [advances] enable Marines to engage various targets, such as structures, bunkers and enemy personnel.”

The system supports the USMC’s ongoing mission to lighten individual weight burdens and increase lethality. The M72 FFE and the legacy system are the lightest shoulder-fired rocket systems the USMC fields. Its light weight allows smaller units to increase the number of shoulder-fired munitions available during operations and provides them with an easy-to-carry, fast-to-employ system designed to defeat multiple targets in all conditions.

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