The Next Generation Light Ant-Tank Weapon (NLAW) is described by SaaB thus;
It is currently in service with the British Army, Royal Marines and RAF Regiment.
Next Generation Light Ant-Tank Weapon (NLAW) History
The history of NLAW starts with the weapon it was intended to replace, the LAW 80.
Light Anti-Armour Weapon (LAW) 80 was intended as a replacement for the Rocket 66 mm HEAT L1A1, more commonly known as the M72 LAW. The L1A1 was seen as increasingly obsolete against modern Soviet armour, primarily as a result of its fixed diameter, unlike RPG type weapons, the warhead diameter was constrained by the launch tube diameter. For HEAT warheads, one of the principle means of increasing penetration is with a warhead of greater diameter.
LAW-80 was designed with a 94mm diameter warhead and included a spotting rifle that fire ammunition ballistically matched to the main round. Effective range was reportedly 500m, although it would be relatively difficult to achieve a hit at this range against a moving target. If it did hit, though, the vehicle would likely be in trouble, the warhead could penetrate 700mm RHA. When carried, the missile was 1m long, this was extended to 1.5m in the ready to fire mode. LAW-80 weighed 10kg.
LAW-80 could also be used as an ‘off-route mine’ and command detonated.
LAW-80 was last produced in 1993
The replacement for the Insys LAW-80 was intended to be guided to support realistic engagement distances, Next Generation Light Anti-Armour Weapon (NLAW) was the programme name.
The requirement was defined as;
Two initial Project Definition studies were awarded to Matra BAe Dynamics and Celsius (Sweden) and in January 2001, two bids were received for the Demonstration, Manufacture and Support phase.
Matra Bae Dynamics entered the Kestrel, and Celsius, the MBT-LAW.
Kestrel was a version of the Lockheed Martin FGM-172 Predator Short Range Anti-Tank Missile that was intended to enter service with the US Marine Corps.
A MoU was signed with Sweden in June 2002, the same time Saab Bofors Dynamics (Celsius) were announced as the winner. Assessment Phase costs were £18 million and the Demonstration and Manufacture contract was £419 million.
Team MBT-LAW consisted of;
- Thales Air Defence; assembly
- BAE Systems Avionics; inertial measurement unit
- NP Aerospace; plastic and composite mouldings
- FR-HiTemp; control fins and actuators
- Raytheon Systems; electronics assemblies
- Skeldings; special purpose springs
- Thales Missile Electronics; proximity fuze
- Others included MetalWeb, BAE Systems RO Defence, EPS Logistics Technology, Express Engineering, Portsmouth Aviation, ICI Nobel Enterprises, Leafield Engineering.
Thales in Belfast produced the missiles and deliveries began in 2009, the same year it came into service.
In 2015, Saab released details of a software change that could easily extend the effective range;
NLAW is also in service with Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg.
Next Generation Light Ant-Tank Weapon (NLAW) Capabilities
The guidance system uses Predicted Line of Sight (PLOS). The firer activates the system and tracks the target for 2 to 3 seconds before firing, the guidance system then calculates the predicted flight path to ensure a hit, it is a fire and forget device.
The firer can select overfly top attack (OTA), for use against main battle tanks and armoured vehicles, or direct attack (DA) against soft-skinned vehicles and other targets. In OTA mode, the guidance algorithm optimises the approach for an elevated flight path with a proximity fuze and in direct attack mode, the sensor system that maintains height is simply disconnected and the missile is impact fuzed.
NLAW has a soft launch system that allows it to be fired from cover, inside buildings etc. It can also be fired without guidance prediction if the situation requires it.
The 12.5kg IM compliant system has effective range is between 20m and 600m, the missile is 150mm in diameter and the warhead, 102mm diameter down angled at 90 degrees.
NLAW is a maintenance free disposable system, although the Trijicon Compact ACOG 2.5×20 sight can be detached and reused if required.