The AT4, an 84mm disposable rocket launcher, replaced the LAW, offered a bit more punch, and weighed more than double than the LAW.
Anti-tank weapons can change the course of a war or battle, and we’re seeing that right now in Ukraine. For infantry, shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons will help create a versatile, tactically flexible force. The Russian RPG-2 and later the RPG-7 are famous examples of simple, powerful, one-man-wielded anti-tank weapons. And its counterpart in the West, the AT-4, one of the most popular shoulder-fired anti-tank weapons today.
The AT4, an 84mm disposable rocket launcher, replaced the LAW, offered a bit more punch, and weighed more than double than the LAW. These weapons can tailor rounds for different purposes outside of just taking out tanks; they can also be used as anti-bunker, anti-structure, and for more.
The AT-4 (also known as M136) is a product jointly developed by the US and Sweden, manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics. The AT4 is not a rocket launcher strictly speaking, because the explosive warhead is not propelled by a rocket motor. Rather, it is a smooth-bore recoilless gun. Saab has had considerable sales success with the AT4, making it one of the most common light anti-tank weapons in the world.
Development began in the 1970s and was officially commissioned in 1987. Basically, AT4 is the next evolution of Miniman 74 mm, creating an 84 mm variant with an improved projectile and charge, and a largely new type of gun tube. The construction of the AT-4’s gun tube is extremely similar to that of most modern disposable anti-tank rocket launchers, but is still able to cope with the overpressure of an 84 mm recoilless round. The tube consists of reinforced fiberglass, with numerous sheet steel and composite brackets. The sights, trigger mechanisms, and shoulder rest frame are made of steel, while the sight covers, foregrip, and numerous other fixtures are made of plastic.
The weapon has a listed effective range of 300 meters and weighs in at only 7.5 kilograms. The AT4 warhead can penetrate more than 17.5in of armour plate. The weapon covers a minimum arming distance of 10m, which makes it more accurate in targeting short distance targets. The projectiles are preloaded into the launcher.
The high-explosive anti-tank projectile can penetrate up to 420mm of rolled homogenous armour. The high-explosive dual purpose can be used against buildings and bunkers, and the projectile can also be used to detonate on impact or with a delayed detonation. The HEDP 502 projectile can penetrate up to 150mm of RHA. The high-penetration projectile has extra penetration ability, which enables it to pass through 500mm to 600mm of RHA.
The AT-4 may be fired from a standing, sitting, kneeling, or prone position, though prone firings are typically forbidden during training. The AT-4 has seen combat in numerous conflicts, to include the Afghan War, the Iraq War, and Operation Serval. If the M136 is included, the list is expanded even further, to include every US ground war since Operation Just Cause (the 1989 Invasion of Panama). In several of these wars, the AT-4 proved its worth against armored vehicles of all shapes and sizes, it was able to defeat some structures, and it even proved valuable against unarmored targets such as trucks.