With a weight of only 8.9kg, this weapon can easily destroy an armored personnel carrier with all the soldiers inside.
It can disable a 50 ton T-72-B3 tank, penetrate reinforced concrete walls, drain the enemy’s life force. Along with NLAW, Stinger, Javelin, this weapon is an indispensable part of the battlefield. It’s the RGW-90 Matador – a 90-millimetre man-portable, disposable anti-armour and anti-brickwall weapon system developed by Germany, Israel and Singapore.
Ukraine purchased 2,900 RGW 90 Matador portable anti-tank weapons from Germany. Since the beginning of the conflict, Germany has delivered many anti-tank weapons, Stinger surface-to-air missiles, and other weapons to Ukraine. Ukraine’s anti-tank weapons have proven extremely effective on the battlefield, with thousands of Russian tanks destroyed.
The development of the MATADOR began in 2000 and eventually replace the German-Singaporean Armbrust Light Anti-tank Weapon, which has been in service since the 1980s. The launcher looks almost the same as that of the Armbrust, with the obvious exceptions of the fatter launch tube, the extendable probe on the muzzle of the rocket, and the broad octagonal shock absorbers around the muzzle and venturi. The launch tube is constructed of reinforced fiberglass, with polymer fixtures, and styrofoam shock absorbers.
The MATADOR is supposed to be capable of defeating the armour of most known armoured personnel carriers and light tanks in the world. The dual-capability warhead, when acting in the delay mode, creates an opening greater than 450 mm in diameter in a double brick wall, and acts as an anti-personnel weapon against those behind the wall, offering an unconventional means of entry when fighting in built-up areas.
The warhead of the MATADOR is unique, with a selectable shaped charge capability. With the probe extended, the warhead will fire the charge liner into the target as a penetrator, capable of punching through thick vehicle armor. With the probe retracted, the warhead will flatten-out on impact prior to detonation, in much the same manner as a High-Explosive Squash Head round, and then detonate; in this setting, the blast will smash through thick masonry, concrete, or even stone walls, creating a mousehole at least 450 mm wide. Against thinner walls, the HESH effect will breach a hole large enough for a man to walk though. The operator can switch from one setting to another simply by pulling the probe out to its full length, or pushing it back in.
The propulsion system is typical of rocket-propelled weapons, with a very short-lived booster, and a sustainer motor that propels the projectile through most of its flight. Both are solid fuel rockets.
Similar to the Armbrust, the counter-mass counteracts the recoil of the weapon upon firing. The counter-mass consists of shredded plastic, which is launched out of the rear of the weapon when it is fired. This plastic is rapidly slowed by air resistance, allowing the weapon to be fired safely within an enclosed space. In addition, the positioning of the counter-mass takes into consideration the centre of gravity of the weapon to ensure good balance for better accuracy.
The MATADOR saw its first combat deployment in January 2009, by Israel Defence Forces soldiers during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip. MATADOR-AS was used to breach walls in structures, allowing IDF troops to pass through and attack opponents inside.