The SMAW is a shoulder-fired rocket system that is used to destroy bunkers, light armored vehicles and other fortified positions at ranges between 50 and 500 meters.
Marines currently use the SMAW MK 153 Mod O that weighs 16 pounds and still utilizes the spotting rifle, which shoots 9mm tracer bullets. Once the Marine hits the target with the tracer, the gunner then fires the rocket.
The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dalgren Division has developed the SMAW Mod 2 that is 3 pounds lighter and uses a modular ballistic sight, or MBS, that utilizes a laser range finder and thermal weapon site. The Navy and Marine Corps is currently test the upgraded version, the first update from the Mod 0 that was first introduced in 1984.
Ryan Smith, Marine Corps Systems Command's project officer for the SMAW, said the Corps has heard complaints from Marines who wanted to see the SMAW go away. However, he said he hoped the MBS upgrade will give Marines renewed faith in the weapon.
"Some would like to see the SMAW go away because it's old," Smith said in a release. "There are so many little hidden gems about the SMAW Mod 2 that will make it more user friendly, lighter in weight, easier to maintain and more available to the Marine."
Daniel Ross, an engineer working on the SMAW project acknowledged that the spotting rifle had to go.
"The spotting rifle is the most maintenance intensive component of the weapon," Ross said in a release. "The aiming process is trial and error...It's obsolete.