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M80 Zolja

Anti-tank rocket launcher

M80 Zolja

Despite its obsolesce the M80 is being produced to this day

Country of origin Yugoslavia
Entered service Early 1980s
Caliber 64 mm
Weight 3 kg
Length (collapsed) 0.8 m
Length (extended) 1.2 m
Muzzle velocity 190 m/s
Sighting range 400 m
Range of effective fire 220 m
Armor penetration 300 mm


   The M80 Zolja (wasp) is an anti-tank rocket launcher, developed in the former Yugoslavia. It is similar to the US M72 LAW, but more so the the Soviet Union's RPG-18. The M80 saw action during Yugoslav wars. Currently it is used by the former Yugoslav republics, including Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia. Also it has been exported to Indonesia. Despite its obsolesce the M80 is still being produced. Interestingly the launcher is produced in North Macedonia and the rocket is produced in Serbia.

   This anti-tank rocket launcher is simple in design and technology. It is a single-use aluminum tube, layered with fiberglass on the outside, which fires a pre-loaded rocket. The launcher is carried in a collapsed. It is extended only prior to firing. The Zolja can be made ready to fire in less than 10 seconds. Simple instructions are printed on the side of the weapon. The weapon is cocked by raising its rear sight. Once cocked, the safety cannot be activated, posing a security threat. So in practice once the weapon is cocked, the rocket has to be launched somewhere anyway.

   When fired, stabilizing fins pop out of the rocket. The rocket has a shaped charge warhead and penetrates 300 mm of steel armor. Such penetration is not sufficient to destroy main battle tanks of today or even of the 1970s. However, it is still useful against light vehicles (where its armor penetration remains acceptable) and bunkers (since it can penetrate around 1 000 mm of reinforced concrete).

   The rocket can fly on for several hundred meters until it self-destructs, which happens about 6 seconds after launch. For safety purposes, the rocket does not arm until it has traveled 10 meters. The empty tube cannot be reloaded. So once the rocket is launched the tube is discarded.

   The back-blast area of the M80 Zolja is 30 meters. Though the Zolja can be used inside buildings, however these should be no walls at least 2 meters behind the gunner.

   This weapon is equipped with simple flip-up sights and has a sighting range of 400 m. Maximum effective range against stationary target is 220 m. Accuracy of this weapon is rather limited.

   Despite limited accuracy and penetration the M80 Zolja has its own advantages. This weapon is cheap to produce, simple to use, small and light. With a little extra training, one man in every squad could carry one or two, giving each squad some anti-tank or anti-vehicle capability. In the late 1970s Yugoslavia also adopted a more capable M79 Osa reloadable rocket launcher, which had superior range and accuracy.


M80 Zolja

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M80 Zolja

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