US Military Begins to Experience the LAW Again
The Vietnam-era, disposable-launcher, 66mm LAW rocket has been making a comeback with the US military. The LAW may be a poor weapon choice against Soviet tanks, but the 7.5 pound M72a7 is an excellent choice for forces needing lightweight, short-range, bunker-busting firepower at reasonable cost. Given that the second scenario often prevails on the battlefields of the Global War on Terror, buying a new-generation LAW is a wise move.
To that end, Talley Defense Systems in Mesa, AZ received a $7.2 million fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00178-05-C-1017. While searches of DoD’s DefenseLink did not reveal any previous listings for M72A7 LAW rockets, or for the contract number is question, DID’s research and some assistance from NSWCD Dahlgren allow us to shed light on this procurement…
In February 2005, The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) issued a solicitation that noted its intent to modify existing NSWCDD contract N00178-05-C-1017 to procure and/or add options for approximately 20,820 additional M72AS, 21MM Sub-Caliber Trainer Rockets (NSN 1340-01-482-5049, DODIC HA21) and 2,558 M72A7 66mm HE LAW w/Graze Fuze Function and NVD Mount (NSN 1340-01-497-7630, DODIC HA29). The award date was estimated as mid-May 2005.
The September 2005 modification was for production of 12,024 additional M72AS Trainer Launchers and M72AS 21mm Sub-caliber Trainer Rockets, and 3,284 additional M72A7 66mm Lightweight Anti-Tank Weapons (LAW) with High-Explosive warheads and a Graze Fuze Function. They will be delivered to the US Marine Corps and U.S. Army.
According to Randy Vaughn of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, total quantities procured to date under NSWCDD Contract N00178-05-C-1017 are:
16,920… M72AS 21mm Subcaliber Trainer Rockets (NSN 1340-01-482-5049 | DODAC HA21)
TL. Value = $893,467
350… M72AS Trainer Launchers (PN 51670-9 | NSN 1055-01-495-0009)
TL. Value = $456,056
6,399… M72A7 LAW w/Graze Fuze and NVD Mount, HE, 66mm (PN 52390-5 | NSN 1340-01-597-7630 | DODIC HA29). These are combat-ready field weapons, not training versions.
TL. Value = $12.9 million, or about $2,020 per throwaway LAW.
Compare these figures for the 7.7 lb. direct-fire M72a7 LAW to $13,000 for the unguided 17 lb. 83mm SMAW, or $2,700 for the unguided, 15 lb. M136 (AT4-CS). The guided Javelin missile that was being used in the LAW’s place at times costs $75,000 per missile and $125,000 per launcher unit. While RAFAEL’s Spike guided missile costs much less at $4,000 per missile and $6,000 per launcher, it weighs 52 lbs. for the whole guidance system/ missile /tripod system. Given these comparative weight and cost figures and the kinds of threats US forces currently face, the LAW’s renewed popularity becomes easy to understand.
Work on the LAW procurement contract modification will be performed in Mesa, AZ, and is expected to be completed by September 2006. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division in Dahlgren, VA (N00178-05-C-1017).