The replacement of RPG-7 is to come by 2025 - it's high time to choose a modern weapon

The replacement of RPG-7 is to come by 2025 - it's high time to choose a modern weapon
Author: DND|Caption: RGW 90 MATADOR
28 / 01 / 2021, 10:00

The Army of the Czech Republic currently has three types of portable anti-tank weapons in its arsenal. The standard anti-tank weapon is a proven Soviet RPG-7, widespread around the world. Mechanized units have a lighter disposable RPG-75 of Czechoslovak design. Special forces and paratroopers have the Swedish Carl Gustav M 3a recoilless rifle. RPG-7 was to be replaced untill 2020 by a more modern weapon according to plans from 2015. In 2019, it was decided to postpone this task to 2025. Given the standard time of Czech military acquisitions, it is high time to start preparing.

Modern armies in allied countries rely on different portable anti-tank weapons. Among the most widespread is the aforementioned Carl Gustav, developed in the first version in 1946 by the Swedish company Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori (now Saab Bofors Dynamics). It is used by armies of dozens of countries and is known as MAAWS (M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System) by the US Armed Forces.

The version used by the Army of the Czech Republic fires projectiles weighing 3.1-3.3 kg, depending on the type of ammunition and the target at a distance of 700-1100 m. The trained soldier should be able to fire up to six rounds per minute. On the other hand, the RPG-7 with a PG-7V projectile weighing 2.2 kg will reach a maximum of 500 m, with a relatively lower rate of fire of 4-6 rounds per minute. Carl Gustav was introduced in small numbers since 2006 and from the beginning was conceived as a weapon for performing various tasks using different types of ammunition. However, the financial situation allowed only certain types to be purchased, not the full spectrum. The concept of building the Army of the Czech Republic 2025, adopted in 2015, spoke of replacing RPG-7 as a project that was to be completed by 2020. In 2019, this task was postponed to 2025.

However, since we observe that even simpler acquisitions take years in Czech conditions, in order to meet the new deadline it is high time to prepare a tender or decide on another form of purchasing a modern weapon. After all, for example, the acquisition of ballistic helmets for the Czech Armed Forces took more than five years. There are basically two scenarios for the replacement of RPGs - either, as in 2019, a new concept will be adopted in a few years and the project will be postponed again, or the process must begin soon.

The MoD is coming under political pressure, with politicians unequivocally verbally supporting the modernization of the Army and the fulfillment of commitments to NATO (and the fulfillment of election promises, elections will be held this year), and also under pressure from state control bodies which criticized the inability of the MoD to initiate the process of modernization specifically in case of the portable anti-tank weapons.

What are the possibilities of the MoD now? The market offers a number of solutions and let's just look at the surrounding countries. What anti-tank weapons do the infantry of their armies have?

The Bundeswehr still relies on the domestic Panzerfaust 3, which has been in service since the late 1980s. It is a disposable weapon, which is gradually being replaced by a modern RGW system in calibers of 60/90/110, produced by the German company Dynamit Nobel Defense. The smallest caliber in its way of use corresponds more to the Czechoslovak RPG-75 and is introduced in the German special forces. The "Wirkmittel 90", or MATADOR or RGW 90 comes in variants MP (multipurpose), WB (wall-breaching) and AS (against structures). It is the result of a joint German-Singaporean-Israeli project and is, among others, in the armament of the Israeli, British or Slovenian armies. The state-of-the-art RGW 110 is also disposable, operated by one man. Formerly the standard anti-tank weapon Carl Gustav is now used by the German army practically only for training, and in December 2019 Bundeswehr ordered the new Enforcer system by MBDA, called "Wirkmittel 1800+", which is characterized among other features by its fire-and-forget ability. Its guided missiles are locked on the target before launch, and can reach at a distance of two kilometers.

Like the Czech Army, the Polish Army uses Carl Gustav to a limited extent and relies on the RPG-7 and lighter RPG-76 Komar. But within the Grot program it chooses their replacement between the Swedish AT4 from Saab, the above-mentioned RGW 90 from DND, the American M72 LAW, and also the modernized Czech RPG-75, ie all disposable light compact weapons.

In Austria, the Bundesheer uses Carl Gustav called Panzerabwehrrohr 66/79 in Jäger and Panzergrenadier units. In Slovakia, the standard anti-tank weapon of the infantry is the Czechoslovak RPG-75 and the 5th Special Forces Regiment also uses the Carl Gustav M4. Both will be replaced by the RGW 90 MATADOR from DND.

It is important to mention one specific factor of modern disposable anti-tank weapons, and that is that the firing tube is made of fiberglass, charged once and sealed against the ingress of dirt, etc. It is also adapted in the rear for shooting from an enclosed space. RGW can fire from a closed room. Carl Gustav needs a window behind the firing position, and the RPG-7 must not be launched from an enclosed space at all. In addition, modern combat vehicles are equipped with sensors to detect the firing of anti-tank weapons based on the detection of the spectrum of the starting engine. At that moment, the shooter prefers to drop the tube and seek for cover, rather than reloading the second shot – his opponent can fire very quickly and precisely. As already mentioned, there are a lot of interesting weapons on the market, but in our immediate vicinity, the RGW from DND clearly stands out.

Whether the Army of the Czech Republic decides in the final for any type of new modern portable anti-tank weapon, if the infantry is to be armed with it by 2025, it is necessary to acquire them so that they are delivered in advance. There are approximately three years left to choose the weapon, negotiate with the supplier, build the necessary training and technical base, deliver the weapons, and train the troops for its effective use.

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