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‘Lethal, dependable, flexible’: Vietnam-era rocket launcher upgrades expected for Marines in 2022

The M72 anti-tank rocket has been a staple of the Corps since Marines were fighting in the jungle during the Vietnam war.

Now, the disposable 66 mm light assault weapon, or LAW, is set for an upgrade that will make the system more “lethal, dependable” and “flexible” on the modern battlefield, according to a Marine Corps press release.

The upgrades to the weapon system’s backblast, flash and stability are expected to be fielded by fiscal year 2022, according to a release by Marine Corps Systems Command.

The current version of the LAW creates a bright flash and large smoke cloud when fired, potentially giving away the position of Marines.

It also currently produces a large backblast, making it potentially dangerous to fire indoors.

The new version will allow Marines to safely fire multiple shots a day while inside a building or a bunker. And, the muzzle flash produced at night will be less than that of the M9 pistol, the press release said.

““The new LAW FFE is a true Fire-from-an-Enclosure capability unlike anything the Marine Corps has ever seen,” Warren Clare, the program manager for Ammunition at MCSC, said in the release.

“It will become a force multiplier,” Warren added.

In addition to the reduced backblast, smoke and muzzle flash, the new system will come with an “an enhanced in-line trigger mechanism and improved sling design,” improving the stability of the system, the press release said.

The system will have come in two configurations, one —the M72A8 — designed for armor penetration while the second — the M72A10 — is designed as an anti-structure, multipurpose munition capable of attacking bunkers or other reinforced structures, the press release said.

“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,” Richard Dooley, a project officer for maneuver ammunition and missile programs with MCSC, said in the release.

”These advancements enable Marines to engage various targets, such as structures, bunkers and enemy personnel,” Dooley added.

The lightweight projectiles are meant to significantly improve the damage a small unit of Marines can do, when they may be operating without the assistance of heavy support units.

“Advancements made to the M72 FFE rounds makes it one of the most lethal, dependable and flexible munitions available in the world today,” Dooley said in the press release.

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