Israel: LAW on Order
The M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) found both popularity and notoriety in Vietnam. On the one hand, it was easy to carry, and improved the squad’s firepower. On the other hand, it bounced off of North Vietnam’s obsolete tanks.
In 2006, a redesigned version of the LAW rocket restarted production, and returned the LAW to American military service. It still isn’t going to take on any tanks, but it’s very useful in modern urban warfare scenarios. In 2008, Israel submitted an export request for up to 60,000 of them…
Israel has used LAWs, but in general it relies on its own weapons to equip its forces with shoulder-launched rockets. The B-300 that was the template for the US Marines’ Mk153 SMAW and Israel’s follow-on SHIPON is a common weapon, the 90mm PZF-90 MATADOR was jointly developed with Singapore and Dynamint Nobel, and some Israeli units have even used RPG-7s.
The difference is that the MK153 launcher plus rocket weighs 29-30 pounds, with a 9-14 pound weight for each rocket reload. An RPG-7 is 14 pounds, plus 4.5-10 pounds per rocket. MATADOR, first used in the 2009 Gaza War, weighs 19 pounds total. An entire M72A7 LAW weighs about 8 pounds.
There are times when the full punch of a B-300 or specialized warhead capabilities of MATADOR are unnecessary, If all the squad needs is a simple, lightweight “Ranger key” that can blow the doors off of lightly armored vehicles, crash through reinforced doors or light walls, etc. then having 4 LAW rockets on hand is a lot more useful than the equivalent weight of a single B-300. Better yet, LAWs don’t require a dedicated carrier.
Contracts & Key Events
Sept 24/14: Contract. Nammo Talley Inc. in Mesa, AZ receives a $63 million firm-fixed-price Israeli umbrella contract that orders “M72 Light Assault Weapons and variants.” It’s the 1st announced contract that matches the DSCA request. If Israel is looking at variants, some options include:
- M72A4: Enhanced penetrator design, note shape.
- M72A5: New standard model.
- M72A6: Enhanced blast effect.
- M72A7 (requested): A6 with insensitive warhead for Navy use.
- M72E8: Can be fired from enclosure (i.e. inside a room) safely.
- M72E9: Upgraded ability to defeat vehicle armor.
- M72E10: Anti-personnel fragmentation round.
Funding and work location will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Sept 24/18. Bids were solicited via the Internet, with 1 received by Israel’s FMS agent at US Army Contracting Command in Picatinny Arsenal, NJ (W15QKN-14-D-0086).
Sept 9/08: DSCA. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced [PDF] Israel’s formal request for 28,000 M72A7 disposable 66mm LAW rockets, 60,000 M72AS 21mm Sub-Caliber Training Rockets, spare and repair parts, and other elements of support. The contractor would be Nammo Talley Defense Systems in Mesa, AZ, the estimated cost is $89 million, and no contractor support will be required since Israel already uses some LAW rockets, and training and support are inherently designed to be minimal anyway.
The M72A7 has lower penetration capability than the M72A5, or the enhanced penetration M72A4. What is does offer is an enhanced blast effect that makes it especially useful once it penetrates a building, and an insensitive warhead for greater safety. The latter is the difference between the M72A6 and A7.