Marine Corps Adds Laser Range Finder to SMAW

SMAW1The Navy and Marine Corps are working to update the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon, or SMAW, to add a laser range finder and rid the weapon of its antiquated spotting rifle.

The SMAW is a shoulder-fired rocket system that is used to destroy bunkers, light armored vehicles and other fortified positions at ranges between 50 and 500 meters.

Marines currently use the SMAW MK 153 Mod O that weighs 16 pounds and still utilizes the spotting rifle, which shoots 9mm tracer bullets. Once the Marine hits the target with the tracer, the gunner then fires the rocket.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dalgren Division has developed the SMAW Mod 2 that is 3 pounds lighter and uses a modular ballistic sight, or MBS, that utilizes a laser range finder and thermal weapon site. The Navy and Marine Corps is currently test the upgraded version, the first update from the Mod 0 that was first introduced in 1984.

SMAW2Ryan Smith, Marine Corps Systems Command’s project officer for the SMAW, said the Corps has heard complaints from Marines who wanted to see the SMAW go away. However, he said he hoped the MBS upgrade will give Marines renewed faith in the weapon.

“Some would like to see the SMAW go away because it’s old,” Smith said in a release. “There are so many little hidden gems about the SMAW Mod 2 that will make it more user friendly, lighter in weight, easier to maintain and more available to the Marine.”

Daniel Ross, an engineer working on the SMAW project acknowledged that the spotting rifle had to go.

“The spotting rifle is the most maintenance intensive component of the weapon,” Ross said in a release. “The aiming process is trial and error…It’s obsolete.



8 Comments on "Marine Corps Adds Laser Range Finder to SMAW"

  1. A much needed update tracers for a AT weapon give the shooters position away and forces them to move after firing. This can help conceal them better. Good to see the old SMAW doing well.

  2. Might want to look at the Carl Gustav. Fires more types of munitions, twice the range, 3lb heavier (SOF version is 2lbs lighter), shorter when loaded . The only downside is the Rangers, SF, SEALs and Army use it.

  3. I've been waiting for this one. It's quite a logical step up as far as I'm concerned.

  4. I still want to know why the conventional Army doesn't have any kind of non-disposable heavy weapon. I am glad to see the Goose making its way to the 10th Mountain, though.

  5. While I love the SMAW/SMAW-D, the Gustav or newer M3 are programs of record that, just as the many other "service specific platforms/items" that has been better received over the last 5-6 years. The SOC community has had them in the inventory and I've spoke to a few from 3 services and first-hand accounts tell of great effects.

    The Army and MC (sometimes the Navy), speaking on land weapon systems, are eternally screwed. One service wants it in red, the other in blue. One wants to call is one thing, the other wants to make it "theirs" by changing one small, component that isn't critical. While the final one will take all that and then say they want it all black with polka-dots that give off IR signature when exposed to sea water.

    Its not going to end until….well, money is the root of the problem so it won't end. Money as in "hey man, I have a deal for you to make money off of the (insert service) and present a system similar to the (xxx) but not….". Politicians and senior Officers line themselves up for jobs and $$$ by making crooked deals every day…sometimes every other day.

    From an EOD POV…The A7 LAW/fuzing is money, awesome effects on target (though obviously extremely limited on Type by function) and they are disposable; carry 2 in A-Stan and not be bothered by weight. The AT-4…eh, not impressed, seen too many duds and projectiles actually punch through targets w/o functioning, plus it's not the ideal dismounted system. SMAW's I wish I had 5 on the end of each arm, far far lower dud rate than AT-4s and HEAT and NE rounds are money when it was needed offensive situations; but like the Gustav, when you're out of rounds you are still carrying the paperweight platform. Gustav's round selection is fantastic, but can easily be done with the SMAW if the decision was ever made for the capabilities to be present.

    Would love the Army, Navy and MC to agree on one "med/heavy" recoilless portable system, taking the best from the SMAW and Gustav, but until someone mans the 'F' up and puts a stop to redundant programs it will never happen.

  6. Timothy Yan | August 10, 2013 at 3:49 am |

    1) The original weapon trail was rigged to disqualified the Carl Gustav with the add-on requirement of self-containing ammo. All because of it was not invented here. Noted that the SMAW is based on British and Isreali designs.

    2) For the first 20 years in service, the Marine Corps was not allow to have HEAT ammo for the SMAW (beside the small 5000 or so in storage) because of the Army's Dragon ATGM program. Due to the very small production of the SMAW HEAT round, it cost something like $20,000 each to make.

  7. Timothy Yan | August 10, 2013 at 4:02 am |

    Noted the the original Brit spot rifle was designed to have a 5-round life and be throw away with the empty rocket launch tube after fired. GD over engineering it by adding a heavier barrel and the steel support braces. Didn't I mentioned it was designed to last only 5-round.

    Another issue is the launcher tube on the SMAW. Anyone noticed that other reloadable rocket launcher systems use metal tube or metal lined tube. Well on the SMAW is plastic coated fiber wraps.

  8. Kinda late ain't it Marines?…Well, better late than never.

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