$14.1M Order for 3,000 Thermobaric SMAW Rounds
Talley Defense Systems, Inc. in Mesa, AZ received a $14.1 million firm-fixed-price contract for the manufacture and delivery of 3,000 Mk.80 shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon – novel explosive (SMAW-NE) encased assault rockets. These are the cylinder-shaped all up rounds that clip into the Mk. 153 SMAW shoulder-launch unit. Work will be performed in Columbus, MS (75%) and Mesa, AZ (25%), and is expected to be complete by January 2008. This contract was a sole source from The Marine Corps Systems Command Program Manager for Ammunition at Quantico, VA.
GlobalSecurity.org describes SMAW-NEs as thermobaric weapons, which were very successful at defeating Islamist death squads and reducing Marine casualties during the high-intensity Second battle of Fallujah in November 2004. A July 2005 Marine Corps Gazette article added that: “… Due to the lack of penetrating power of the NE round, we found that our assaultmen had to first fire a dual-purpose [HEDP] rocket in order to create a hole in the wall or building. This blast was immediately followed by an NE round that would incinerate the target or literally level the structure.”
One reader wrote to us to note that this one-two punch sounded somewhat familiar. Different, but familiar:
“The description how the Marines fire a HEDP round followed by a thermobaric round and what happens inside is chilling! It brings to mind a sea story about the two heavy boats (River Assault Boats) we had at Song Ong Doc. The Craftmasters, both Chiefs, had quite an act explaining how the Zippo boat would fire first to burn down the shrubs and then the Monitor boat would let loose a beehive round [DID: filled with hundreds of small metal flechettes/darts] to catch anyone in the open trying to escape! They were engaged in what was known as the 0930 firefight a couple of times until Charlie learned he did not do well to shoot at large floating fortresses!”
It would appear that the essential principle is transferable to a wide variety of situations. We’d note, however, that US Navy’s “new” riverine forces appear to lack these capabilities entirely.