The advent of the tank in the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) brought about a pressing need for warplanners to invest in tank-killing instruments. This led to various solutions that have included high-powered rifles, mines, "sticky" bombs, and, ultimately, armor-defeating rockets and missiles. In their current forms, the rocket and missile solutions can be fired from the shoulder, from atop a tripod assembly, or from a vehicle/aircraft. In the case of the Cold War-era RAC 112 "APILAS" ("Armor-Piercing Infantry Light Arm System"), the weapon is a complete system, made recoilless and of single-use function, fired from the shoulder.
The RAC 112 is of French origination, initially produced under the Matra Manurhim Defense label before ownership fell to defense powerhouse GIAT. Now the product is seen under the Nexter brand label. Between 1985 and 2006, some 120,000 RAC 112 APILAS units have been produced for various global entities.
The system fires a 112mm caliber, 920mm long, 4.3 kilogram anti-tank, rocket-powered projectile driven to the target by way of a solid-fuel rocket booster embedded in its aft-end. Range is out to 300 meters against moving targets (such as tanks) and up to 500 meters against static, fixed targets (such as bunkers or similar fortified positions). Minimum range is 25 meters. The projectile carries a shaped-charge warhead of 1.5 kilograms that is able to penetrate up to 720mm of Rolled-Homogenous Armor (RHA) or up to two meters of solid concrete. Muzzle velocity of the outgoing projectile is rated at 295 meters-per-second and a spring-loaded fin arrangement is used to stabilize the weapon during its flight phase.
The launcher component of the system measures between 1,250mm and 1,300mm long depending on whether it is in transport or made ready-to-fire. The tube weighs in at 4.7 kilograms. A Piezoelectric sensor is used to initiate the trigger system. The launcher includes padded ends, padded forend, and padded shoulder rest. The sighting device is integral as its the trigger unit.
All told, overall weight of the complete system is 9.0 kilograms.
The French Army took on a stock of some 84,000 APILAS systems during the middle-to-late 1980s and used these to directly succeed an aging line of LRAC F1 weapons in same role (these are detailed elsewhere on this site). Since introduction, the RAC 112 has gone on to find a home in the inventories of many global players (beyond the French Army) including Belgium, Finland, Italy, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, and Taiwan.