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Nammo Raufoss in Norway is working on a drone-mounted M72 concept. The M72 is a 66mm caliber single-use light anti-tank weapon effective against a range of targets such as armored vehicles, personnel, lightly fortified structures, or similar.
The M72 is qualified and in use by a wide range of armed forces in several (mostly NATO) countries and offers a good combination of low weight and heavy firepower. In a regular usage scenario, it is fired from the shoulder of the operator.
While most variants have a maximum effective range of around 350 meters, the new drone concept opens up several new possibilities for versatile use and much longer ranges.
With the M72 mounted on a drone, users can bring the weapon to the target in a way not previously possible. This opens up both a “top attack” option against more heavily armored targets, even up to main battle tanks, while at the same time removing operators from the danger zone, according to the company’s announcement.
The low-cost concept does not rely on GPS or similar to function. With a degree of automation, the number of operators can be kept at a reasonable level, and the light anti-tank weapon / drone combination can likely operate in so-called swarms. Compared to conventional anti-tank missiles, this can be an effective and inexpensive solution against armored forces. M72 variants meant to be used against armored targets can penetrate at least 450mm of steel.
Nammo is also looking at options to extend the range of drone-carried M72 systems even more. Currently, a live video feed from cameras on the drone is transmitted back to the operator. This has a maximum range of around 3-4 kilometers, but with improved signal strength, the company is experimenting with ranges up to 50 km.
The development of the M72 drone is supported by Norway’s Defense Development Institute (FFI).