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Anti-tank guided missile

NLAW missile

The NLAW looks like a rocket launcher, but in fact it is a guided missile

Country of origin Sweden
Entered service 2009
Armor penetration 400 - 600 mm
Range 400 - 600 / up to 800 m
Missile length 1.02 m
Missile diameter 0.15 m
Fin span ?
Missile weight 12.5 kg
Total weight with launcher ?
Warhead weight ?
Warhead type HEAT
Guidance Inertial, predicted line of sight


   Almost three decades since the AT-4 set a lasting benchmark for disposable rocket launchers SAAB worked on a new single-use system from scratch in 2002 with help from Thales and the UK defense ministry. It was an anti-armor weapon meant for the average foot soldier that emphasized being lightweight and portable.

   The resulting weapon operated like a rocket launcher and combined SAABís expertise in heat-resistant materials and its own cutting edge technology from the pioneering BILL anti-tank missile system.

   This is the NLAW or Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon. Itís not supposed to be confused with the American LAW or the British LAW-80, both of which are rocket launchers. Its Swedish designation is Pansarvarnsrobot 57, or RB 57.

   The NLAW is a short-range anti-tank missile whose characteristics make it sort of a hybrid. Itís armed with a powerful 150 mm High-Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) warhead designed to knock out Russian T-series tanks at short ranges. But like other disposable launchers favored by NATO militaries itís a single use system with basic optics and which is extremely easy to use.

   Even the NLAWís firing mechanism is a novelty. Instead of an embedded lever or trigger on its launch tube it has an ergonomic grip on its right hand side behind the bulbous muzzle brake. To aim the NLAW a basic optical sight with 2.5 times magnification is installed on the launcher. For better accuracy night vision and red dot sights are available upon request.

   A little heavier than a loaded FN MAG or similar general purpose machine gun, the NLAW is meant to be carried by infantry who are up against hostile armor and fortifications. To deal with the former, the NLAW is perfect for ambushes in densely forested terrain and even building interiors thanks to its controlled back blastóthe diameter of its venturi is smaller at 115 mm than its bore which is 152 mm wide.

   Cognizant of threats posed by modern active protection systems and reactive armor, the NLAW operator can opt for an overfly top attack mode. This launches the missile toward the tank turret, where it explodes. Its downward-angled HEAT warhead perforates the thin upper armor even if itís covered with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA).

   To destroy fixed positions the NLAW can fire its warhead in direct attack mode like an oversized AT-4 with a massive punch. Direct firing can even be done on targets just 20 meters away.

   Designed as a single-use weapon system the NLAW canít be reloaded. Furthermore, its range is modest with its farthest reach of stationary targets at 600 meters. Effective range against moving targets is up to 400 meters. All newer missiles have updated guidance software and can engage targets at a range of 800 meters and up.

   Since 2009 the NLAW has found an eager clientele across Europe, with significant orders from Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg and the UK, where itís designated the MBT LAW. When newly delivered, SAABís product literature claims the NLAW enjoys a shelf life of 20 years. This means all NLAWs in current use become defunct before 2030 kicks in. Will an even better variant of NLAW be ready then?


Miguel Miranda

   Article by MIGUEL MIRANDA

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NLAW missile

NLAW missile

NLAW missile

NLAW missile

NLAW missile

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