Israel: LAW on Order
On Sept 9/08: 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 insensitive warhead for greater safety, and enhanced blast effect that makes it especially useful once it penetrates a building. This redesigned version of the LAW rocket has restarted production and returned to American military service in the last couple of years.
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 is a common weapon, and Israeli units have also 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. An entire M72A7 LAW weighs about 8 pounds. There are times when the full punch of a B-300 is unnecessary, and 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, et. al. In urban warfare situations, having 4 LAW rockets on hand within the squad can be a lot more useful than having the equivalent weight of a single B-300 – or no system at all, since LAWs can be distributed but a B-300 or RPG needs a dedicated carrier.