Marines Want New Shoulder-Fired Rockets with Smaller Blast Signature than M9 Pistol

A test facility professional prepares to fire an M72 LAW Fire from Enclosure test round at an undisclosed test range in 2019.
A test facility professional prepares to fire an M72 LAW Fire from Enclosure test round at an undisclosed test range in 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command)

The Marine Corps wants to field an improved version of the shoulder-fired M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) that features a reduced flash and backblast signature that's less detectable than an M9 pistol when fired at night from inside enclosed structures.

The Army recently released a request for proposal on behalf of the Marines for the M72 LAW Fire from Enclosure (FFE) munition, according to a news release from Marine Corps Systems Command.

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The M72 LAW FFE is a compact, lightweight, single-shot rocket system that features an improved launcher, enhanced in-line trigger mechanism and improved sling design.

"It is a shoulder-fired rocket that you can fire from inside an enclosure, room or bunker," Richard Dooley, a project officer for Maneuver Ammunition and Missile Programs with Systems Command's Program Manager for Ammunition, said in the release.

The highly effective M72, which fires a 66mm rocket, has been in use since the Vietnam War, but its backblast has created problems when firing from inside enclosed structures. More recent and improved versions of the M72-series LAWs were produced in the 1990s and include the M72A4, M72A5, M72A6 and M72A7.

The improved FFE capability, which the Corps hopes to field in fiscal 2022, will create a reduced noise and flash signature so Marines can maintain a covered and concealed position and reduce the chance of enemy detection, according to the release.

The M72 FFE will have two configurations: the M72A8 anti-armor and the M72A10 multi-purpose, anti-structure munition, according to the release. The anti-armor warhead improves armor penetration, while the multi-purpose warhead gives Marines the added capability of an anti-structure round capable of eliminating hardened structures, such as buildings.

"The M72A10 incorporates an advanced warhead design with a multipurpose explosive and a self-discriminating fuse that operates in either fast- or delay-mode based on target construction," Dooley said. "These advancements enable Marines to engage various targets, such as structures, bunkers and enemy personnel."

Marine officials described the new FFE as one of the "most lethal, dependable and flexible munitions available in the world today."

"The new LAW FFE is a true fire-from-an-enclosure capability unlike anything the Marine Corps has ever seen," Warren Clare, the program manager for ammunition at Systems Command. "It will become a force multiplier."

-- Matthew Cox can be reached at

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