US Marine Corps fields M3A1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapons System to infantry Marines

U.S. Marines have begun receiving a new, explosive rocket launcher that provides additional protection and lethality in urban environments. In May 2021, Marine Corps Systems Command began fielding the M3A1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapons System to infantry Marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The MAAWS is a reloadable, recoilless rocket system intended to supplement existing shoulder-fired rocket capabilities. Matt Gonzales, Marine Corps Systems Command, reports.
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Sgt. Sebastien Auguste, an instructor for the Advanced Infantry Course at the School of Infantry-East, tests the M3E1 Multi-purpose Anti-armor Anti-personnel Weapon System to engage targets during live-fire training on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 6, 2021 (Picture source: U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Emma Gray)

“The MAAWS is a reusable, long-range weapon that provides the capability to destroy armored vehicles, structures and fortifications, which will be useful for infantry Marines,” said Capt. Christopher Adsit, MCSC’s project officer for the MAAWS.

The system consists of the M3A1 Carl Gustaf M4 Recoilless Rifle, a fire-control system and a backup reflex sight Marines can use if the primary optic malfunctions. It includes munitions that provide obscuration, illumination, anti-personnel, armor penetration, bunker- and hardened-facility penetration, and other destruction capabilities.

“It has the ability to fire [illumination], smoke and airburst-style rounds,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 David Tomlinson, MCSC’s infantry weapons officer. “The capability will allow the warfighter to engage the enemy in defilade, reinforced bunkers and buildings.”

The MAAWS is augmenting the Mk153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, a rocket system initially fielded to Marines in 1984 before undergoing several modifications in the 2000s. The Marine Corps has used the SMAW to destroy armored vehicles, bunkers and other fortifications. The MAAWS can engage enemies at farther distances when compared with the SMAW. The MAAWS can also hit moving targets with the aid of its fire control system, increasing the accuracy and overall lethality of infantry squads.

Adsit said the MAAWS will also supplement the explosive power of the M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon, a portable, one-shot anti-tank weapon. The additional rounds available to the MAAWS increase a squad’s options for target engagement. “This new rocket system shoots farther than any of our current shoulder-launched rocket systems,” said Adsit. “It significantly increases the shoulder-fired rocket range.”

Earlier this year, new equipment, live-fire training events at the Schools of Infantry East and West enabled nearly 100 Marines to test the weapon. The MAAWS was well-received among participating Marines, including Sgt. David Beggel, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.



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