The M72 LAW Anti-Tank Weapon Mounted on a Drone? I’d have to see it in action to believe it, but one defense contractor just came up with an idea that no one thought of before – how to get a light anti-tank weapon (besides the Hellfire missile) mounted on a small, swarming drone. They are using the M72 Light Anti-Armor Weapon – the LAW. This is normally a man-portable shoulder-fired weapon to take out enemy armored vehicles. Now it could go airborne to hit a tank’s weak spot – the top of the turret.
Introduction to the Advantages of the LAW
Let’s discuss the LAW first and find out why it is still popular after all these years. The LAW is a 66mm tube-launched weapon with rifle sights. It is still light and portable enough so that it can be carried easily on a soldier’s shoulder. While mainly designed to take out light tanks, it can also be utilized against bunkers, walls, caves, and gun emplacements. The weapon is quickly aimed and fired.
Not Very Expensive
In service since 1963 and used in the Vietnam war, the rocket flies at 650 feet per second with an effective range of 250 meters and a maximum range of 1,000 meters. Numerous variants over the years have improved its specifications. It only costs about $2,000 each – one of the reasons it is so popular in armies around the world.
Now About that Drone
This is a creative idea. I never even thought that a weapon designed to be shoulder-fired could be mounted on a drone. But that’s what defense contractor Nammo, short for Nordic Ammunition Company, has created. Nammo is a joint Norwegian/ Finnish company.
Look Out Below
The idea is simple. Fly the drone over a tank’s turret and shoot downward while penetrating up to 450mm of steel of a tank’s weak spot. The company says the drones can operate in swarms and overwhelm an armored platoon. The drones and LAWs are cost-effective as the unmanned system has a range of two to three miles.
There’s video feedback to the operator to help with targeting, and with more modifications, the company believes it can extend the range up to 31 miles.
The Plan Is to Test The Prototype with the Norwegian Army and Sell It to NATO Partners
The LAW-mounted drone could become a mainstay in the Norwegian Army, the system was showcased at the ADEX trade show in Seoul in October. The drone is still in the proof of concept stage, but if Norway takes it, it could spread to other NATO countries for potential use against a Russian mechanized warfare operation. If you combine this with operators on the ground and drones up high, you could severely attrit an armored column. This is an intriguing and inexpensive weapon and let’s hope the prototype advances to introduction on the field.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.