|Type||Recoilless rocket launcher|
|Place of origin||France|
|Used by||See users|
|Wars||Rwandan Civil War|
|No. built||over 450,000|
|Cartridge||HEAT antiarmour warhead|
|Cartridge weight||615 g|
|Rate of fire||single-shot|
|Muzzle velocity||250 m/s|
|Effective firing range||20 - 400 m|
|Soldier shown with first Wasp 58 design|
|First Wasp 58 launcher design|
In the early 1980s, Luchaire's sales department had noted the rising costs of light individual anti-armour/assault weapons were to the point that fewer and fewer could be purchased and that there was a need for a one-man anti-armor/assault weapon which could be purchased for a cost slightly higher than that of a rifle grenade, but with the greater accuracy and ease of use of a one-man rocket launcher
The world export markets was the major considerations behind the development of the Wasp 58 by Luchaire.
The Wasp 58 is a direct-fire weapon used to attack lightly armored vehicles at ranges up to 300 metres. It can also be used against bunkers or as a fire support weapon. The Wasp 58 is a one-man disposable weapon system based on the recoilless principle. On ignition the propellant fires the 58-mm projectile forward while at the same time ejecting a counter mass of plastic chips to the rear to achieve a recoilless effect. The plastic chips due to their size and weight lose any velocity after 1 metre of travel from the back of the launcher. The projectile is stabilized by six fins that unfold and lock into place after leaving the tube.
The designers of the Wasp 58 made it compact and simple to operate with a small launch signature. This enables it to be fired from enclosed spaces, including from small rooms in buildings, and protects the user from having his position revealed. The Wasp 58 is composed of a sealed launch tube manufactured from fibreglass reinforced plastic. The Wasp 58's HEAT antiarmour warhead is 58-mm in diameter and is based on the Grenade à fusil antichar de 58 mm Mle F1 PAB rifle grenade's warhead, also designed and manufactured by Luchaire and in service with the French military and other armies worldwide. The antiarmour warhead of the Wasp 58 can penetrate 300 mm of rolled homogeneous armour (RHA). And while insufficient in penetration for frontal engagements of today's modern main battle tanks, it can engage other armoured targets (wheeled armour vehicles or light tanks) from both frontal and side. The Wasp 58 requires no annual maintenance or special storage other than that which would be required for other small arms munitions. The Wasp 58 has a hit probability of over 95% when fired against stationary targets (88% against moving targets).
The Wasp 58 was first saled in 1987. It has been a commercial success with over 450,000 produced, including licensed production in Greece. It is in service in France (with the French Commandos de l'Air),, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece and the Netherlands. The Greek Revolutionary Organization 17 November stole a few rockets and used them for terrorist attacks.
References and notes
- "Arming Rwanda: The Arms Trade and Human Rights, Abuses in the Rwandan War" (PDF). Human Rights Watch arms project. Vol. 6 no. 1. January 1994. p. 24.
- Lefort-Lavauzelle, Patrice (1996). "Le système d'arme léger antiblindé "Wasp 58"". Revue militaire suisse (in French) (141). doi:10.5169/seals-345660.
- "Wasp 58: Single-use anti-tank rocket launcher". military-today.com.
- Gander, Terry J. (2001). "Giat Industries Wasp light anti-armour weapon system". Jane's Infantry Weapons 2002-2003. pp. 1855–1856.