Disposable Lightweight Anti-Tank Weapon (LAW)
The Soviet RPG-18 held similarities to the American M72 LAW shoulder-fired anti-tank rocket launcher series.
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As in the West with the M72 LAW, the Soviet Army of the Cold War years (1947-1991) adopted a lightweight, disposable Anti-Tank (AT) weapon all their own in the RPG-18 "Mukha". The system was similar in battlefield form and function as the M72 and provided short-ranged destructive firepower against armored vehicles and fortifications. The RPG-18 was eventually succeeded by the more modern RPG-22 series of rocket launchers which emerged in 1985. The RPG-22 continued the disposable nature of the RPG-18 but instead fired a larger, unguided fin-stabilized rocket.
The RPG-18 weighed 1.4 kilograms in its collapsed travel form and this increased to 2.5 kilograms when the system was made ready-to-fire. Overall length was, thusly, 705mm when collapsed and 1,050mm when made ready-to-fire. A single operator was all that was needed to utilize the benefits of such a portable weapon system and the disposable nature of the RPG-18 meant that the operator carried several RPG-18s into battle.
The RPG-18 fired a 64mm caliber rocket which held a HEAT (High-Explosive, Anti-Tank) warhead capable of defeating up to 300mm of Rolled Homogenous Armor (RHA) armor (though up to 375mm of conventional armor) at effective ranges out to 200 meters (or six seconds after launch to ensure detonation). As much as 1,000mm of brick could also be defeated. Muzzle velocity of the exiting projectile was 115 meters-per-second. The rocket detonated through an impact fuse design upon reaching its target. Optics (flip-up front and rear) were included on the launcher tube itself and a shoulder strap aided in transporting the weapon when on-the-march.
RPG-18 tubes were delivered pre-packed and ready-to-fire, the rockets sitting within the main body of the expandable tube. Hinged caps covered both ends of the launcher to prevent dust and debris from entering it.
The RPG-18 was in frontline circulation from 1972 until 1990.