SMAW Anti-Tank Missile

Lance Cpl. Anthony Johnson, 2nd squad assault team leader, with an MK-153 SMAW Rocket Launcher,  alongside a building in Fallujah, Iraq.  Marines of 3rd Platoon,  Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 18 November  2004
Lance Cpl. Anthony Johnson, 2nd squad assault team leader, with an MK-153 SMAW Rocket Launcher, alongside a building in Fallujah, Iraq. Marines of 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 18 November 2004.

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Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW)

The SMAW portable anti-armor rocket launcher system was fielded in 1984 as a Marine Corps unique system. During Desert Storm, 150 launchers and 5,000 rockets were provided to the U.S. Army and it continued in use in both services. During Operation Enduring Freedom, U.S. forces used the M141 version of the SMAW to demolish al-Qaida hideouts from up to 550 yards away. In the photo, left, Marines of Weapons Platoon, Company E, 2/3, fire a MK153 SMAW during an exercise in Japan, March 2003.

The SMAW is an 83mm man-portable weapon system consisting of the MK153 launcher and three munitions: the MK 3 encased High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) rocket, the MK 6 encased High Explosive Anti-Armor (HEAA) rocket, and the MK217 spotting rifle cartridge. For training purposes the MK7 encased common practice rocket and the MK213 noise cartridge are used.

The munitions are matched to the SMAW mission to destroy bunkers and other fortifications during assault operations as well as other designated targets with the dual mode rocket and to destroy main battle tanks with the HEAA rocket.

The launcher consists of a fiberglass launch tube, a 9mm spotting rifle, an electro-mechanical firing mechanism, open battle sights, and a mount for the MK42 optical and AN/PVS-4 night sights. The 9mm spotting rounds are ballistically matched to the rockets and increase the gunner's first round hit probability.

The SMAW MK153 Mod 0 launcher is based on the Israeli B-300 and consists of the launch tube, the spotting rifle, the firing mechanism, and mounting brackets. The launch tube is fiberglass/epoxy with a gel coat on the bore. The spotting rifle is a British design and is mounted on the right side of the launch tube. The firing mechanism mechanically fires the spotting rifle and uses a magneto to fire the rocket. The mounting brackets connect the components and provide the means for boresighting the weapon. The encased rockets are loaded at the rear of the launcher. The spotting cartridges are stored in a magazine in the cap of the encased rocket.

Specifications of the SMAW

SMAW is 29.9 inches (75.95 centimeters) in length, configured to carry. Opened and ready to fire it is 54 inches (137.16 cm) long. Carry weight of the launcher is 16.6 pounds (7.54 kg) and ready to fire with HEDP is 29.5 pounds (13.39 kg) or 30.5 pounds (13.85 kg) with HEAA. The effective range against tanks is 500 meters.

M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) and LEAP

The M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) SMAW-D is the single shot, disposable version of the Shoulder-launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW). Half the carry weight of SMAW, SMAW-D provides the same massive target over-match effects against field fortifications, urban structures, and lightly armored vehicles. SMAW LEAP (Low-signature Encased Assault Projectile), is a reduced backblast and overpressure version, thus permitting SMAW to be safely fired from an enclosed space without hazard to the gunner.

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