Poland buys M72 EC Mk1 RPGs that ‘erase’ Russian tanks in Ukraine

WARSAW ($1=4.71 Polish Zlotys) — Ukraine’s experience in the war with Russia and Warsaw’s long-standing ambitions to find a replacement for the thousands of Soviet RPG-7s in the Polish army’s inventory led the Polish government to purchase several thousand Norwegian-made M72 EC Mk1 anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The decision was officially announced by the Minister of Defense of the country Mariusz Blaszczak on Twitter.

Poland buys M72 EC Mk1 RPG that 'erase' Russian tanks in Ukraine
Photo credit: Screenshot

“Another good news for the Polish army! We have signed a contract for the supply of several thousand M72 EC MK1 light disposable grenade launchers. This is a modern weapon designed to combat vehicles, including against heavily armored vehicles such as tanks,” Blaszczak said in his post.

According to the German online portal Soldat Und Technik, the contract is worth 31.3 million euros, but as noted by German journalists, Poland has not disclosed the exact amount of purchased grenade launchers, and accordingly, there is no clarity on the unit value of the M72 EC Mk1. The Ukrainian online portal Defense Express hints that the war with Russia is one of the reasons why Poland decided on such a purchase. “The experience of the armed forces of Ukraine with the massive use of anti-tank grenade launchers against the armored attack of the Russian army has already been studied by Poland,” they wrote in Ukraine.

About M72 EC Mk1 RPG

The M72 EC Mk1 RPG is a single-use fire-and-forget grenade launcher, a variant of the 1960s American M72 LAW grenade launcher, designed based on the M72 LAW and manufactured by the Norwegian company Nammo. Apart from Norway, according to the information available from open sources, Finland is the other operator at the moment.

Poland buys M72 EC Mk1 RPG that 'erase' Russian tanks in Ukraine
Photo credit: Military Leak

The abbreviation of the product name hides the main distinguishing features of the M72 LAW. Enhanced Capacity [EC] in the name means increased anti-armor performance: 315 grams PBXW-11 explosive. This is an important feature because before the modernization the grenade launcher did not have such high penetration, which forced soldiers to carry several grenade launchers and use them mainly on light armored vehicles in a continuous sequence to achieve the desired effect.

The M72 EC Mk1 RPG is a 66mm caliber and its muzzle velocity is 145 m/s [480 ft/s]. M72 EC Mk1’s minimum arming range is up to 10 m [33 ft], but the maximum range is up to 1,000 m. The grenade launcher is suitable for firing at static and moving armored vehicle targets, including enemy army positions as well as bunkers.

Poland replaces its Soviet weapons inventory

The fact is that since the beginning of the war, Warsaw has sent thousands of Soviet-designed ammunition, weapons, and weapon systems to Kyiv. Poland is replacing its armaments, as were Warsaw’s plans before the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine, but it is a fact that the war was the catalyst that triggered these processes to happen faster.

The German online portal Soldat Und Technik reminds us that the decision to replace the Soviet RPG-7s in Poland was made years ago, but the situation in Europe forced the Polish government to make quick decisions. The fact is that at the present moment the M72 EC Mk1 cannot be a complete replacement for the RPG-7, especially based on the basic fact that the Soviet weapon system is reusable and the Norwegian one is disposable. But it’s a start, say Soldat Und Technik.

US-confirmed-5,000-ATGMs-Javelin-arrive-in-Ukraine-on-May-6-1
Photo: Reddit

Warsaw’s desire to modernize its army and increase its combat capability and effectiveness, against the backdrop of Russian aggression in Ukraine, is evident in some hasty decisions, such as the purchase of 500 units of M142 HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System], or 180 FGM-148F Javelin anti-tank guided missiles and 60 Command Launch Units [CLU].

Soldat Und Technik writes that it is not the first time Warsaw has looked at the Norwegian grenade launcher. The M72 EC Mk1 was part of an effort by local Polish manufacturer Dezamet to begin license production. But this did not happen and in 2017 the deal fell through.

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