Recent combat lessons reemphasized the lack of availability in weapon systems suitable for urban warfare. Among infantry systems on display at Eurosatory 2004, were many familiar models were modified for urban environment combat.
Many programs are currently underway with different armies, to replace, improve or add anti-structure weapons capability to their infantry units. Current shoulder fired missiles and rockets are designed primarily to defeat tanks and armored vehicles, but inadequate when fired against brick walls or fortified concrete targets. Another deficiency of most current weapons is the fact that they cannot be fired from enclosures, such as rooms or bunkers, rendering the user vulnerable to enemy fire. Dedicated anti-structure weapons should give the infantry soldier capability to defeat buildings, bunkers or fortifications, a task previously provided only by heavier artillery or direct fire from tank guns. There are various types of anti-structure weapons. Two programs are currently in advanced stages – the US Marine Corps is evaluating two types of weapons for its Follow-On To SMAW (FOTS) program, which is expected to be followed by similar program to be launched by the US Army. The systems are under development at Lockheed Martin (teamed with IMI, based on the Shipon design) and General Dynamics (teamed with Dynamit Nobel and RAFAEL, based on the Panzerfaust design). FOTS is designed for ranges of 10 – 500 meters in urban or open terrain, and be capable of operation from confined spaces. The weapon should be effective as an anti-structure, anti-tank weapon, against soft targets and means to force man-sized openings in triple line brick walls. The Israeli Army is expected to follow the US decision after system selection is announced.
A British Army requirement for a similar system with a weight of less than 10 kg and an effective range of at least 200 meters, is expected to be available for operational use by 2009. Both Dynamit Nobel Defense and versions of the Saab Bofors Dynamics are competing on this program. Saab Bofors Dynamics offer two weapon’s families compatible with these requirements, based on the AT4 weapon and M3 Carl Gustaf weapons. Companies currently developing or offering such weapons include the Russian Basalt, developed of the RPG-7, Dynamit Nobel with the Panzerfaust weapon, the new anti-structure version of IMI Shipon, IMI also develops with Lockheed Martin a special weapon for the US Marine Corps Follow-on to SMAW program, a program which RAFAEL is also competing on. RAFAEL has also developed the Wallbuster and MPM90 multi-purpose weapons.