Marines Magazine

The Official Magazine of the United States Marine Corps

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Big Things Come in SMAW Packages

Fielded in 1984, the Mk. 153 Shoulder-launched Multi-purpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) was specifically developed with the Marine Corps in mind. It is fed by a sealed canister containing the missile, which is manually connected to the rear of the launcher.


The 83 mm warhead comes in a variety of specialties, such as the high explosive anti-armor (HEAA) rockets and high explosive dual purpose (HEDP) rockets. It also sports a 9 mm spotting rifle, calibrated to the ballistics of the rocket that helps locate positions of impact and trajectory. Other tactical advantages of the system include a thermobaric warhead, capable of collapsing buildings.

The SMAW is generally operated by a two man team; the gunner and the assistant gunner. Two SMAW teams are assigned to a rifle platoon. The gunner is responsible for firing the weapon while the A-gunner loads the weapon and ensures the back blast area is clear. The back blast is lethal at 30 m and is extremely dangerous at 90 m.

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