The Pentagon recently announced a contract for a half-billion dollars worth of M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon variants.
The award, to Arizona-based and Norwegian-owned Nammo Defense Systems, amounts to a $498,092,926 firm-fixed-price contract for the full-rate production of assorted M72 LAW models variants and components to include training systems. The U.S. Army Contracting Command in Newark, New Jersey issued the five-year contract with an expected completion date in December 2026.
Developed in the 1960s to offer a more man-portable one-shot weapon in lieu of the 15-pound 90mm M20 “Super Bazooka,” the original 5.5-pound 66mm M72 LAW has seen continual service since then, although it has gotten heavier and better since then. The above images are from 1968 Vietnam, 1983 Grenada, and 2008 Iraq. The LAW endures, it would seem. (Photos: National Archives)
“With more than a million systems delivered, the M72 represents one of the most successful shoulder-fired systems ever developed,” says Nammo of the popular system that, besides military service with more than 20 countries since it was first adopted in the early 1960s.
The tank changed warfare for good in the tail end of World War One. Since then, man has devised tank killers to help rid the battlefield of these up-armored war engines. First came anti-tank rifles like the .55 Boys, followed by the Bazooka of WWII. By the 1960s, these were both obsolete and the US Army was looking for something new. They laid down the LAW.
Officially, the weapon is known as the M72; however, its nickname comes from the project to create a Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW). Adopted in 1963 the LAW replaced the dedicated two-man Bazooka teams used since 1943 with a weapon that was passed out liberally around the platoon to individual soldiers. Carried as an accessory and not as a primary weapon, your average grunt could pack one or two of the 5.5-pound, 25- inch overall (in traveling configuration) weapons around with him everywhere. When an enemy tank rattled into view, aforementioned Joe could unsling his LAW, extend it, take aim, and pop an armor-penetrating
round into the beast. A modern David v Goliath.
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