Dynamit Noble MATADOR (Man-portable Anti-Tank, Anti-DOor)
90mm Man-Portable, Shoulder-Fired Rocket Launcher
A joint German-Israeli-Singaporean weapon, the MATADOR is an upgrade to the Cold War-era Armbrust AT system developed by West Germany.
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The MATADOR disposable anti-tank, shoulder-fired rocket system saw its development during the latter half of the 1990s as a successor to the 1980s-era 67mm "Armbrust" weapon (detailed elsewhere on this site) fulfilling the same battlefield role. West Germany initially brought the Armbrust along to which then its rights were sold off to Chartered Industries of Singapore (CIS) which later became ST Kinetics. The MATADOR is a joint weapon development between Germany, Singapore, and Israel (involving Dynamit Nobel Defence, the Defence Science and Technology Agency, and Rafael Advanced Systems respectively) and centered around a hard-hitting 90mm projectile effective against both moving armored targets as well as stationary fortified structures. In this way, the MATADOR system can be used to tackle the threat posed by modern Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) and provide a hard-hitting measure against concrete walls as a "bunker buster".
The MATADOR is also recognized under the designations of "Panzerfaust 90 (Pzf 90)" and "RGW 90". The MATADOR name is derived from the description of "Man-portable, Anti-Tank, Anti-DOoR".
In keeping pace with shoulder-fire, anti-tank weapon systems seen elsewhere, the MATADOR relies on a disposable launch tube design meaning it is an inherently ready-to-fire, single-shot weapon to be used by a sole infantryman. It holds a 3.2 feet overall length, a weight of 9 kilograms, and has optics support as well as an integrated trigger/pistol grip unit. A shoulder strap helps in transport of the weapon which allows the infantryman to retain a primary weapon.
As in the Armbrust design seen previously, the MATADOR's firing action utilizes a "counter weight" approach in which the forces of the exiting rocket at the muzzle are countered through a mass of shredded plastic jettisoned from the rear of the tube. This counter weight approach negates much of the recoil forces experienced in the firing action, reducing reliance on a complex and expensive recoil mechanism. The result is an anti-tank / anti-wall solution that allows the operator to fire within confined spaces - a useful quality for urban warfare environments. Additionally, the counter weight approach produces a more accurate weapon. The launch tube has a section of Picatinny rail for mounting night vision optics. The tube also provides a reflex sighting device and laser rangefinder improving reaction times and accuracy.
The MATADOR's baptism of fire came during Israeli Army actions during 2009's "Operation Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip. As the enemy lacked armored vehicles, the weapon was primarily used for wall breaching actions. Due to the small back-blast footprint exhibited by the weapon, it proved itself useful in firing from confined spaces.
The MATADOR chambers a 90mm rocket projectile available in three distinct flavors - the multi-purpose MATADOR-MP, the wall-breaching MATADOR-WB variant (Explosively-Formed Ring warhead), and the bunker-busting MATADOR-AS (tandem warhead). Muzzle velocity reaches 820 feet-per-second with effective firing ranges out to 1,600 feet.
Current (as of 2015) users of the MATADOR system include the British Army, Israel, Germany, Singapore, Slovenia, and Vietnam.