The flash from the M72 FFE’s muzzle and back blast is less than that of an M9 pistol

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

U.S. Marine Corps’ new anti-tank rocket is its old anti-tank rocket, the M72 Light Assault Weapon (LAW), upgraded to destroy buildings and bunkers:

Equally significant, the M72 Fire From Enclosure (FFE) is designed to be fired from inside buildings, without the flash revealing Marine positions. [...] “When firing at night, the flash from the M72 FFE’s muzzle and back blast is less than that of an M9 pistol. The ability to fire from an enclosed position combined with reduced noise and flash allows Marines to maintain a covered and concealed position, reducing the enemies’ ability to identify the point of origin.”

The M72 FFE will come in two versions. The M72A8 anti-armor round will feature improved armor penetration. The M72A10 multi-purpose round is designed to destroy buildings and bunkers.

“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,” said Richard Dooley, a Marine Corps project officer. “These advancements enable Marines to engage various targets, such as structures, bunkers and enemy personnel.”


  1. Kirk says:

    Still only a 66mm warhead, though. There’s only so much explosive power you can pack into that bore diameter, and then you’re gonna have to move up. The M72 class of AT weapons is virtually useless against anything but light armor, these days. And, unlike the RPG, you can’t just develop a newer, larger warhead for it and just slap it on the end of the rocket bit.

  2. Ezra says:

    Presumably if you hit the target flash will not be factor.

  3. Kirk says:


    Tanks rarely operate by themselves, and the unfortunate fact is that the other tankers in the other tanks rarely take it well when you successfully take out their friends. They’re sensitive like that, for some odd reason… It’s like a union, or something.

  4. Paul from Canada says:

    I always wondered why we never made an improved westernized reverse engineered RPG (better sights and a safer fuse if nothing else). Even if just for sale and export.

    I suppose the reason is that there are already so many floating around practically for free that it was not worth it.

    Worth remembering that both Israel and South Africa fielded captured RPGs to their own forces, and rumor has it that South Africa may actually have manufactured ammo (though I doubt it). In South Africa’s case it was because they didn’t have anything equivalent due to sanctions. They had a local stolen plans version of MILAN for heavy use, but only old Korean war era bazookas for the squad/platoon.

    The reason M72 series weapons are still around lies in the few advantages it has, namely size/weight, portability and cheapness.

    Also worth mentioning, we haven’t done much peer-to-peer lately, and the M72 will still do for your typical older APC and improvised armoured vehicle.

    There are also a number of other anti-armour weapons capable of firing with reduced signatures in confined spaces, going way back. (The German Armbrust comes to mind).

  5. Kirk says:


    You really ought to ask EOD what their opinion is of the RPG. You’ll hear a bunch of profanity about the system, and get some insights into why it’s not a real popular item on our side.

    The issues begin with the fact that the rocket and warhead get issued, and then hauled around the battlefield bare-ass naked, more-or-less. This leads to a lot of problems if they don’t get fired right away, and that ups the dud rate considerably, from the already high one they have due to the usual piss-poor munitions quality control the Soviet block tolerated.

    Additionally, the system just sucks–It’s a rehash of a German stop-gap abortion wherein there was a recoilless bit coupled with a rocket that ignited outside the launch tube. This is not a consistent smooth process, and you get some really weird behaviors when the rocket motor ignites, which it does in a semi-random manner. Coupled with that huge warhead and the equally huge fin system, you have a lot of trouble getting consistent hits with the weapon. RPG marksmanship is more art than a science, and it’s even more a thing where you have to provide tons of live practice ammo to get proficiency for the gunners. A good gunner can work miracles with the system, but… Lots of rounds to make him good.

    Not a fan of the RPG, at all. Gimme that ol’ Carl Gustav goodness, and some modern sensor-fuzed ammo. If they had stuck all the money from the XM-25 into improved munitions and fire control for the Carl G., we’d be miles ahead of where we are.

  6. Paul from Canada says:

    I did say improved…..but you are not wrong.

    My point was that it so ubiquitous, and so widely deployed by our “allies”, that western made, safer ammo would be a good idea, since we have to “mentor” our allies, who like to run around with RPGs with the safety cap off.

    From what I have seen, the RPG in the third world is much like bayonet charges in the 19th century, much more of a psychological weapon. Even though there is a basic HE warhead available, pretty much everyone uses the HEAT round for everything, and in the open, unless you are in front of it, it can be less dangerous than an exploding pop can. But it does make a nice loud bang, and the launch signature makes it look like you are being shot at with something powerful. So in a place like Sierra Leon the effect on the locals is all out of proportion to its actual lethality.

    Carl G! Now we are talking! Especially the newest lighter ones with the thinner carbon fiber reinforced barrels. The great thing about it is that Bofors is in fact making all kinds of new ammo. Even the old oldest ones had AP, HE, Illum and (IIRC), there was even a canister or something similar.

    I would not be surprised if sensor fused ammo is something bofors is working on, or perhaps already has. If you search youtube for “Bofors demo”, there is an awesome marketing/propaganda video from the early 90s, showing off various Bofors products, especially upgrades of older stuff. Have old 106mm RCL?, finding it hard to source parts and ammo for the .50 spotting rifle? We have new dual warhead ammo, and an image intensifying laser rangefinding sight for it, and so on.

    Of particular interest was the programmable multi-purpose 40mm ammo for the old 40mm L-70 AA gun, as used in the Swedish CV-90 IFV. One ammo type, with an AP cap, HEI filling, and tungsten pellet frag sleeve. One round for all purposes, and programmable as it loads for about six different modes. Impact, impact with delay, straight time, gated proximity etc.

    If that kind of fuse can be fitted into a 40mm warhead, the only thing keeping it from being applied to an 84mm warhead would be cost.

  7. Sam J. says:

    Kirk says,”Still only a 66mm warhead, though. There’s only so much explosive power you can pack into that bore diameter…”

    There’s actually a way around this.
    A “blast wave accelerator”. I believe shaped charges need ever bigger diameters to squeeze the metal liner harder and harder to speed up the molten jet. With a blast wave accelerator you continuously add energy as the mass accelerates. Could cut cost too. You could use various hardened steel penetrators as long as it goes fast enough. You get all the advantages of high speed kinetic weapons without having massive barrels to shoot them out of.

    A side benefit would be if the BWA charge was wrapped in steel segmented rings whatever it hit everything around it would have a serious shrapnel problem.

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