Meet Robot 57 NLAW ATW – 800m range of ultimate next-gen tank killer

PANAGYURISHTE, ($1=1.77 Bulgarian Levs) — NLAW is a Swedish next-generation light anti-tank weapon design. It is known by various names – the Swedes call it Robot 57 [RB-57], some other people know it as the Main Battle Tank and Light Anti-armor Weapon [MBT LAW]. Designed by Saab, the Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon [NLAW] is manufactured in the UK by Thales Air Defense.

Meet Robot 57 NLAW ATW - 800m range of ultimate next-gen tank killer
Photo credit: SAAB

The weapon is disposable and is intended for use by infantry as a fire-and-forget type. NLAW is designed to counter and destroy all armored vehicles, including the most advanced tanks. The Swedes describe it as the best in its class, which can operate in any environment, including settlements, and enclosures.

History, price, wars

It took the Swedes nine years to design this weapon [1999-2008]. It has been in service in Sweden and the United Kingdom since 2008. In addition, NLAW Robot 57 is now operated by Flanders, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Ukraine is the country where NLAW Robot 57 received its baptism of fire, as the Swedes and the British donated thousands of NLAW Robot 57 to the Ukrainian armed forces to counter the Russian invasion of the country and deal with Russian armored vehicles and the T-80 and T-90 tanks.

Meet Robot 57 NLAW ATW - 800m range of ultimate next-gen tank killer
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The price of a one-time light anti-tank missile system is different and highly dependent on the ordered quantity and possible customer modifications to the weapon. Of course, Ukraine received NLAW Robot 57 for free due to the emergency, but the real price of this weapon varies from $ 20,000 [2008] to $ 40,000 [2022].

It is known that so far the British company Thales Air Defense has produced over 10,000 units.

Against tanks and trucks

NLAW Robot 57 can be used against any land target as well as against helicopters. The reason for this is the two arbit modes integrated into the system – Overfly Top Attack [OTA] and Direct Attack [DA].

Overfly Top Attack [OTA] is used against heavily armored ground combat vehicles, including tanks. OTA is highly effective at a distance of 20 m, which makes the system ideal for combat over short distances, in urban environments, or in enclosed spaces. OTA mode helps the operator before a battle, for example: if the operator does not see much of the target, OTA mode does not allow shooting. When firing is allowed, the missile travels just one meter above the line of sight of the tank, and the warhead is capable of destroying T-80s, T-90s, Abrams, Leopards, Merkava, and any other tank with just one shot.

Meet Robot 57 NLAW ATW - 800m range of ultimate next-gen tank killer
Photo credit: SAAB

The lighter firing mode is Direct Attack [DA]. This mode is very suitable for trucks, buses, cars or helicopters, the so-called. soft targets. The most characteristic, however, is the integrated function predicted line of sight or PLOS – smooth launch and guidance of the missile.

Main characteristics

NLAW Robot 57 weighs 12.5 kg [28 lb], has a length of 102 cm [3 ft 4 in] and a system diameter of 150 mm [5.9 in]. NLAW Robot 57 deploys in less than five seconds and, as already mentioned, is controlled by one person.

Depending on the modification, the anti-tank missile system has two calibers – a 115 mm [4.5 in] missile body and a 150 mm [5.9 in the] warhead. When activating the PLOS mode, the rocket moves at a speed of 40 m / s [130 ft/s], while when used in normal mode, the rocket speed is 200 m / s [660 ft/s], which is the allowable maximum.

The minimum operational range of the missile is 20 meters, while the maximum effect is 800 meters. However, during the exercises, the system hit a target at 1,000 meters, but the destruction of a target at this distance is not recommended by the designer and manufacturer.

Meet Robot 57 NLAW ATW - 800m range of ultimate next-gen tank killer
Photo credit: Reddit

NLAW Robot 57 has an integrated optical telescopic sight with a maximum magnification of 2.5. Separately, the system allows the integration of a night shooting sight.

NLAW Robot 57 uses the well-known HEAT warhead – a type of shaped charge explosive that uses the Munroe effect to penetrate heavy armor. The warhead functions by having an explosive charge collapse a metal liner inside the warhead into a high-velocity superplastic jet; this is capable of penetrating armor steel to a depth of seven or more times the diameter of the charge [charge diameters, CD]. The jet’s effect is purely kinetic in nature; the round has no explosive or incendiary effect on the target. However, according to the characteristics, NLAW Robot 57 has> 500 mm [20 in] armor penetration.

Another non-standard in NLAW Robot 57 is the temperature range at which the system operates efficiently. Unlike other competitors in this field, NLAW Robot 57 operates in the temperature range of −38 to +63°C.

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