Special Operations: Enforcer Meets Matador

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January 27, 2020: The German army has ordered a new lightweight ATGM (anti-tank guided missile) for their KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte or Special Forces Command) personnel. The new weapon is the Enforcer and made by a European firm (MBDA). KSK will receive 850 of the new lightweight guided Enforcer missiles. These will cost $100,000 each.

The Enforcer is a new generation system that provides individual soldiers with a very light (no heavier than 10 kg/22 pounds) guided missile system with a range up to around 2,000 meters. Currently, soldiers use unguided rocket launcher systems such as RGW 90 “Matador”, which has a dual purpose warhead able to destroy light armor or heavy fortified positions like machine-gun nests. These systems are effective but lack guidance and effective range is restricted to about 400 or 600 meters or 1,000 meters with a high-tech sight. In order to reach more distant targets (1,000 meters or more), ATGMs like Javelin, Spike or TOW have been used. These are much heavier (weight over 20 kg/44 pounds) and expensive. Normally these ATGMs are carried around in a vehicle.

This need for longer range infantry missiles is not new and several new designs have appeared featuring lighter ATGMs that troops can carry with them. The Enforcer system was a response to a German army request for such a weapon, preferably from a European manufacturer. Enforcer met the German requirements, being modular and lightweight. The missile together with tube launcher tube and sight module weighs less than 9 kilograms (19.8 pounds). The targeting module is detachable and can be easily clamped on another disposable launch tube. The typical soldier loadout involves two launch tubes with one targeting module.

Using a lock-on before launch capability, the fire-and-forget Enforcer missile provides accurate firepower against lightly armored stationary or moving targets. The KSK operators expect to frequently use it against buildings, often a single room. Another common target type is bunkers, often in urban environments. Enforcer can also be used against helicopters if these are within range. Also important is that Enforcer can be fired from cover and in enclosed and confined spaces. This is essential in urban operations.

Enforcer will complement the existing shoulder-fired RGW 90 systems which have proven very useful, even if unguided. RGW has undergone several major upgrades as well as the appearance of new accessories. For example in 2017 a German firm developed a 1.1 kg (2.4 pound) reusable LRMP (Long Range Multi-Purpose) electronic sight for the RGW-90. Using this sight the RGW-90 can accurately hit targets 1,200 meters away. The LRMP contains a laser range-finder and 5.5X enlargement. The sight takes data about the warhead type, surroundings and target and calculates elevation and lead (for moving targets) and a dot appears that enables the user to move the launcher until it is in position for the most accurate shot. The first user of the LRMP was KSK.

RGW-90 is a 90mm recoilless rifle type weapon that is one meter (39 inches) long and has a counter-mass system that enables it to be fired from confined spaces. There are several versions of Matador available depending on the warhead type. The initial version of LRMP is programmed to work with a multi-purpose warhead with adjustable detonation options. This warhead is designed to blow up buildings, or parts of buildings, as well as destroy light armored vehicles.

The German-made Matador entered service in 2000 and was a major upgrade of the earlier 67mm Armbrust, which weighed only 6.3 kg but was much less accurate and effective against armored vehicles.

Future versions of LRMP will work with other warhead types, like the wall breaching version. That version of RGW-90 weighs 13 kg (29 pounds), without LRMP has an effective range of 20-120 meters, and is designed to create holes in brick or concrete walls, large enough for soldiers to get through. Other future LRMP enhancements will add the ability to work with existing removable night vision devices for Matador.

As effective as the upgraded RGW-90 was the KSK wanted a weapon with even more precision and range and that is where the Enforcer came in. ---Przemysław Juraszek

 


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