The LRAC 89-F1 was developed for the French Army to replace the aging M20A1 Super Bazooka rocket launcher. The M20A1 was an improved form of the World War 2-era American M1 Bazooka launcher and entered production in 1952. The LRAC 89-F1 was constructed out of plastic and fiberglass to promote a lighter carrying weight for those soldiers assigned to operate the system. A typical crew included two personnel, one to handle the launcher itself and the other to facilitate initial loading and subsequent reloading of the launch tube. The LRAC derived its designation from the name of "Lance-Roquettes AntiChar de 89mm modele F1" and was also known as the STRIM 89mm (based on the abbreviation of the name Societe Techique de Recherches Industrielles et Mechanique).
In the mid-1960s, the Societe Techique de Recherches Industrielles et Mechanique was contracted to find a suitable replacement for the outgoing M20A1 series and, in the early 1970s, delivered two viable candidates. The first was a recoilless rifle design known under the designation of ACL-APX with an 80mm projectile assisted in flight by rocket propulsion. The second became the LRAC 89-F1 of 89mm. After evaluation by the French Army, the more promising and cheaper-to-produce LRAC system came out ahead and was selected for procurement and serial production.
As its designation implies, the LRAC 89-F1 fired a rocket of 89mm caliber. Muzzle velocity was rated at 967 feet per second with an effective range within 500 meters and a maximum range out to 2,300 meters. Sighting was accomplished through use of an APX M290 scope and a passive night telescope sight were also available. The base penetration rocket was fin-stabilized (spring-loaded) while in flight and can pierce up to 400mm at a 0-degree angle and up to 110mm at 65-degrees. Broken down, the projectile featured an electric generator at its head followed by the cap and head with the fuse at the midway point. The projectile was then largely made up of the propulsion charge and finally ended with the exhaust nozzle. The launch tube contained the integrated sighting device, trigger mechanism and bipod. The rocket was not made active until the rear tube container was affixed to the launcher. Only then the rocket's propellant was not activated until after the rocket was fired. The rocket was then armed some 32 feet from the launch point.
Design of the base LRAC launcher was essentially a detailed tube. The tube was larger at the rear and tapered off to a consistent forward end. The main control components were held at the center of the tube and included a pistol grip type handle, a retractable forward hand grip and an adjustable ergonomically curved shoulder rest with twin feet (bipod). The sighting system was mounted near the pistol grip unit (or firing generator handle). A carrying handle was set to the right side of the tube body. The rear of the tube was capped by a removable plug and the front by a removable muzzle cover. A back sight notch was mounted atop the business end of the muzzle.
Beyond the base issue rocket, LRAC ammunition included an anti-personnel/anti-vehicle projectile (spraying out up to 1,600 high-speed, molded steel pellets), a pair of smoke projectile (35 second disbursement time in either liquid smoke/phosphorous head forms) and an illumination projectile that burned in air for up to 30 seconds at 300,000 candela power, settling to the ground by a small parachute.
The LRAC 89-F1 in French Army service has since been replaced by the AT4-CS (of Sweden) single-shot and the ERYX portable wire-guided anti-tank weapons. The LRAC does, however, continue service with other militaries around the world, thee being primarily former French colonies residing in Africa.
Manufacturing Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint-Etienne / Luchaire SA - France
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