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B-300

Anti-tank rocket launcher

B-300

The B-300 is a compact and lightweight anti-tank weapon that only requires a single user to operate

 
 
Country of origin Israel
Entered service 1980
Caliber 82 mm
Cartridge type HEAT or HEFT
Cartridge weight 3 - 4.5 kg
Weight (loaded) 8 kg
Weight (unloaded) 3.65 kg
Length (loaded) 1.44 m
Length (unloaded) 0.76 m
Muzzle velocity ~ 220 m/s
Rate of fire up to 3 rpm
Sighting range 500 m
Range of effective fire (against stationary targets) 300 m
Range of effective fire (against moving targets) 200 m
Armor penetration 400 m of RHA

 

   Developed by Israel Military Industries (IMI) in Israel, the B-300 anti-tank rocket launcher was developed in the 1970s, entered service with the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1980, and remains in active service with every nation that has so far adopted it. Its light and compact design makes the B-300 ideal for use by paratroopers, marines, and special forces.

   The origins of the B-300 are in the Yom Kippur War of 1973, during which Israeli troops found that their M20 Super Bazooka and M72 LAW rocket launchers were inadequate against the frontal armor of the T-62 medium tank. Another shock was the unexpected effectiveness of the RPG-7 rocket launcher against M48 and Centurion tanks, which stood in stark contrast to the difficulties in attaining tank kills with the weapons the Israelis possessed. The IDF was also keenly aware of the development of even more thickly-armored tanks at the time, such as the Chieftain and the T-72, and all of these trends clearly demanded the acquisition of a new man-portable anti-tank weapon.

   The Israeli government also directed that the new weapon be developed in Israel, in light of the fickle commitments made by many of the IDF's suppliers in earlier years (up to and including the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War). Development began in the mid-1970s, and was completed by the end of that decade. The resulting B-300 entered service with the IDF in 1980. It was assumed by many journalists and analysts that the weapon being developed in Israel was based on the RPG-7, but the public unveiling of the B-300 surprised many outsiders, because its configuration was quite unexpected; the B-300 instead more closely resembled the French LRAC F1. In turn, this also led many to assume that the B-300 was derived directly from the LRAC F1, but this is clearly not the case, given their differing architecture and ammunition (not to mention their very different bores, at 82 mm and 89 mm).

   The launch tube is long, narrow, and cylindrical, with a slight aft bottleneck. Two brackets (usually painted black) are wrapped around the tube for reinforcement; one about 100 mm behind the muzzle, and the other on the chamber. There are two pistol grips on the launcher; the foregrip and the firing grip, which are mounted close together fore and aft, respectively, close to the chamber. The foregrip is simply used to help stabilize the weapon, while the firing grip includes the trigger group, fire selector, and a safety grip. Mounted at the bottom of the venturi are a folding bipod, and a folding shoulder rest (which may be lowered independently from one another, or simultaneously). Finally, the launcher actually forms only the front half of the weapon; the rear half is attached when the container for the rocket is plugged into the chamber.

   The iron sights are mounted on the left side of the launch tube, and consist of a front bead and a rear notch, along with a rail for mounting a variety of optics. Attachable optics include a simple stadiametric telescope sight and a much larger passive night vision telescope.

   The ammunition of the B-300 is issued in sealed fiberglass launcher-containers. These are sealed airtight to protect against sand, dust, rain, and other typical environmental hazards, and the containers can even be safely submerged in shallow water without leaking, provided they are undamaged. Though speaking of which, the containers are also designed with rough handling in mind, as even troops with outstanding training and experience in munition handling can't be expected to handle the containers gingerly while under fire. After the rocket is launched and the container is detached, it may simply be discarded.

   Two rockets were fielded for the B-300; one with a HEAT (High-Explosive Anti-Tank) warhead, and one with a HEFT (High-Explosive Follow-Through) warhead. The HEAT round is the primary projectile for the launcher, and boasts a shaped charge warhead capable of penetrating the equivalent of 400 mm of rolled homogenous steel armor, adequate to defeat nearly every tank in service at the time of the B-300's introduction. However, the HEAT round has since lost some of its luster, as it lacks a tandem charge to defeat explosive reactive armor, and doesn't have enough penetration to defeat the frontal armor of most tanks introduced after 1980. The HEFT round carries an unshaped HE warhead with a significant blast and shrapnel radius, and is most effective against personnel, unarmored vehicles, and unhardened structures. It is also from HEFT's effect against structures that it earns its name; upon impact, it can penetrate walls and other obstacles prior to detonation, so that it explodes inside. Needless to say, a HEFT warhead exploding inside a confined space (such as an apartment, pillbox, or a small house) guarantees that anyone inside will be incapacitated or killed. The probability of destroying an airborne helicopter a direct hit by the HEFT warhead is also extremely high --- although the probability of actually achieving a direct hit with a single rocket on the first shot is obviously quite low.

   Range of fire with iron sights is 200 m against stationary targets and 150 m against moving targets. Range of fire with optical sight is 300 m against stationary targets and 200 m against moving targets.

   The HEAT round may also be used against the same targets as the HEFT round, although it is significantly less effective against them. Conversely, the HEFT can also be used against some light armor, but can't penetrate any of the armor on any main battle tank.

   The B-300 may be fired from standing, kneeling, or prone positions, though the operator must lie at an angle to avoid being burned by the exhaust. The conical backblast is dangerous to personnel, ammunition, equipment, flammable materials, and so on out to a distance of 30 m behind the weapon, and must be kept clear of these. Hearing protection is required for personnel in the caution area, between 30 m and 90 m behind the weapon, and any dust or debris inside the danger area may be thrown across the caution area with significant force. The B-300's ammunition do not have countermasses, and are too dangerous to fire from an enclosed area.

   Little is known about the combat results of the B-300, save that it was used by the IDF during the 1st and 2nd Intifada, the 2006 Lebanon War, and the Gaza War. It was most commonly used by the IDF's paratroopers and special forces, to whom it was most widely issued.

   The B-300's known operators include Azerbaijan, Chile, Estonia, India, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. In addition, the B-300 has also been manufactured under license in the US as the Mk.153 SMAW, though the modifications required by the US Marine Corps have transformed this weapon and its ammunition into proprietary products; the launchers and ammunition of the B-300 and SMAW are not interchangeable.

   The unit cost of the B-300 and its ammunition are unknown, but the weapon itself is no longer produced.

 

Related Weapons

 

   LRAC F1: This French-built 89 mm anti-tank weapon was the inspiration for the B-300. It has been suggested by many sources that the B-300 is simply a copy of the LRAC F1, but shape of the launcher, the diameter of the bore, and the configuration of the various accessories are all completely different.

   Mk.153 SMAW: US license-produced derivative of the B-300. Though the modifications required by the US Marine Corps have transformed this weapon and its ammunition into proprietary products. The launchers and ammunition of the B-300 and SMAW are not interchangeable. This anti-tank rocket launcher is actively used by the the United States, Lebanon, Pakistan, and Taiwan.

   FT5: Like the B-300, this South African RPG weapon mimics the design attributes of the LRAC F1, but the FT5 is not actually derived from the latter. The FT5 is used by the South African Defence Force, but they have been placed in storage.

   M79 Osa: Yugoslav anti-tank weapon similar to the B-300 (and many others, as you see here), but otherwise an original weapon. It is used by former Yugoslav states, and by several non-state groups.

   SHIPON: This newer anti-tank weapon is based on the B-300, but has significantly improved power and performance, advanced optics (and even a state-of-the-art fire control system), and the rockets are loaded entirely into the launcher. It is gradually replacing the B-300 in front-line use in the IDF.

   There is also a version of the B-300 that is mounted on tactical vehicles.

 

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