LRAC F1

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LRAC F1
LRAC F1-detoured.jpg
A LRAC launch tube pictured during an open day in 2009
Type Shoulder-launched missile weapon
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by France
Production history
Designer Société technique de recherches en industries mécaniques[1]
Manufacturer Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint-Etienne the launcher and Luchaire SA the rocket projectile
Specifications
Weight 5 kg, with sights [2]
Length 1.17 metre [2]
Crew 2

Caliber 89 mm
Rate of fire 3 to 4 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 295 m/s
Effective firing range 300 to 500 metres [2]
Maximum firing range 2300 m (at 45° angle)
Sights APX M 290 and passive night telescope
External images
LRAC F1 STRIM
LRAC F1 Early Photo
LRAC F1 with Rocket Projectile (top) AC300 Jupiter (bottom)[3]
Details of LRAC F1
Cut-Away of 89mm antitank rocket
Drawing of antitank rocket and storage/launcher container

The LRAC F1, officially called Lance-Roquettes AntiChar de 89 mm modèle F1 (89 mm anti-tank rocket launcher model F1) is a French reusable rocket launcher developed by Luchaire Défense SA, and manufactured in cooperation with Manufacture Nationale d'Armes de Saint-Étienne and was in the 1970s marketed by Hotchkiss-Brandt.[4] It replaced the 89 mm M20A1 Super Bazooka in French Army service. Through the use of fiberglass and plastic in the launcher it is over 2 kg lighter when loaded than the M20A1 while having a greater effective range. The LRAC FI is sometimes referred to as the STRIM 89mm antitank rocket launcher from the abbreviations for the private firm Société technique de recherches en industries mécaniques that was contracted in 1964 by the French Ministry of Defence, to research a replacement for the M20A1 Super Bazooka. In the early 1970s, two antitank weapons were placed in production for evaluation by the French Army to replace the M20A1: the 80mm ACL-APX, a recoilless cannon with a rocket assist projectile, and the 89mm LRAC F1 STRIM 89mm rocket launcher. The STRIM design was chosen as the replacement for the M20A1 based on its higher penetration ability of its antitank ammunition and the much lower over all manufacturing costs compared to the 80mm ACL-APX system.[5][6]

Operation[edit]

The launcher is normally operated by a crew of two, a loader and a gunner. The launcher is loaded by attaching a rocket container to the rear of the launcher. When the container is attached, the electrical firing circuit is connected. The rocket container is 626 millimetres long and weighs approximately 3.2 kilograms. On the left side of the launcher is the 3× APX M 309 optical sight, which is graduated between 100 and 1,000 metres. The launcher has a shoulder rest and forward pistol grip, both of which may be adjusted to suit the firer. The forward pistol grip contains a mechanical safety switch and the firing mechanism. When the safety is off, pulling the trigger generates a charge which fires the rocket.

The watertight rear plug of the rocket container is removed just before firing, which closes the firing circuit and allows the rocket to be fired. The rocket is propelled by a large number of long sticks of tubular propellant that produce a constant pressure while burning, providing constant acceleration. The engine burns out before the rocket leaves the launcher at a velocity of approximately 300 metres per second. As soon as the rocket leaves the launcher, nine fins fold backwards from the rear. These fins provide stability for the rocket while it is in flight. There are two safeties. The first is a bore-riding pin located mid-body of the projectile that blocks the warhead firing circuit. After the projectile leaves the tube, the bore-riding pin falls out releasing the second safety which prevents detonation until the rocket has traveled at least 10 metres from the launcher. The rocket reaches a range of 330 metres in about 1.25 seconds, and 360 metres in 1.36 seconds.

The rocket itself weighs 2.2 kilogrammes and has an 89 millimetre diameter shaped charge warhead.[7] The warhead can penetrate 400 millimetres of armour or one metre of concrete at 0 angle impact of the armour plating,[2] and is capable of penetrating NATO single heavy, double medium and double heavy targets while still having enough energy to penetrate multiple 10 millimetre thick steel witness plates.[8][9]

A French soldier holding an LRAC F1 in 1983.

After firing the rocket container is removed, and a fresh one is reinserted. The launcher has a life of approximately 130 firings, after which the optical sight is removed and the launcher is discarded. The optical sight can then be fitted to a fresh launcher.

A number of other rockets were developed for the launcher, including a dual purpose anti-personnel/anti-vehicle rocket whose warhead contains 1,600 steel balls along with a smaller HEAT antiarmour warhead. The steel balls have a lethal radius of approximately 20 metres and the shaped charge is capable of penetrating up to 100 millimetres of steel plating. A smoke round was developed, that produces smoke for approximately 35 seconds; and an illumination round that produces 300,000 candela for 30 seconds.

Service Use[edit]

Besides the French Army, numerous other armies have the LRAC F1 in service, especially with former African colonies of France of which it still remains in service with today. During the French intervention in Lebanon in 1982-83 many journalists in error reported the LRAC F1 as being the Milan wire guided antitank missile. As of 2008, the Swedish AT4-CS (confined space) individual antitank weapon and the 600m range ERYX wire guided antitank missile has replaced the LRAC F1 as the standard French military's short range and ultra-short range anti-tank and assault weapon.

Comparable Weapons[edit]

References[edit]

  • Suermondt, Jan (2004). Illustrated Guide to Combat Weapons. Kent: Grange Books. p. 10. 
  • Hogg, Ian (1991). Jane's Infantry Weapons 1991–1992. Jane's Information Group. pp. 370–372. 
  1. ^ De 1945 à 1958 : La création de l’industrie missilière
  2. ^ a b c d TTA 150, p. 63
  3. ^ note - AC300 Jupiter was a mid 1980s development of MBB of Germany and Luchaire of France where a MILAN 2 warhead was mounted to an Armbrust launcher, but never placed in production
  4. ^ Luchaire produces the different rocket projectiles for the LRAC F1 and Manufacture Nationale-d'Armes de Saint Etienne the launcher - both firms are now part of GIAT Industries
  5. ^ edited by D.H.R. Archer "Jane's Infantry Weapons 1976" page 576-578
  6. ^ The sight developed for the ACL-APX was adopted for the LRAC F1
  7. ^ http://weaponsystems.net
  8. ^ Jane's Infantry Weapons 1991–1992 gives detail of the penetration as a single heavy target at 65 degrees from the horizontal followed by seven 10 millimetre witness plates, a double heavy target followed by four witness plates, and a double medium target followed by eight witness plates.
  9. ^ Luchaire in the mid 1980s developed a new antitank rocket that had the astonishing penetration of 600 millimetres of armour plating. But it was not placed in production, as that was still insufficient to defeat the Russian T-62/T-72 main battle tanks in a frontal engagement
  10. ^ this Israel-US weapon is similar to the LRAC F1 in concept and design
  11. ^ while this Russian weapon looks similar to the LRAC F1 in design and concept it is not -- the rocket projectile is loaded like the bazooka of WW2 and Korea
  12. ^ this former Yugoslavian antitank weapon is the most similar in concept and design to French LRAC F1. Being used by insurgents in Syria in large numbers
  13. ^ A South African anti-tank weapon derived from the LRAC-F1