M202 66mm Rocket Launcher
Flame Assault Shoulder Weapon (FLASH)
The M202 and M202A1 launchers are lightweight, shoulder-fired, semi-automatic weapons that launch 66mm rocket clip ammunition. Each launcher has 4 fiberglass launch tubes into which a rocket clip with 4 rockets slip-fits. The tubes are secured to front and rear bulkheads and are inclosed by shroud strips. Hinged front and rear covers protect the tube openings. A retractable trigger-handle assembly and a folding sight provide compact carrying and storage capabilities. An adjustable sling is used to carry the launcher over the shoulder. The M202A1 launcher differs from the M202 only in that the firing pin assembly of the M202A1 launcher has been modified to eliminate hangup of the firing pin.
The weapon is aimed and fired from the right shoulder in the standing, kneeling, or prone position. It can fire a single rocket or up to 4 rockets semi-automatically at a rate of one rocket per second. It is then reloaded with a new clip of 4 rockets to continue firing. The most stable position for firing the weapon is the standing supported position. When it is fired from a fighting position, there are 2 limitations. First, overhead cover can limit the elevation of the launcher and therefore the range. Second, when elevating the launcher, operators must make sure that the rear of the launcher is outside the hole so that its backblast is not deflected onto them.
The M202 series of launchers can fire either the M74 incendiary or M96 riot control rockets. The filler for the filler for the M74 rocket is a thickened pyrophoric agent (TPA), not napalm. Triethylaluminum is a substance more similar to white phosphorus and similarly burns spontaneously on contact with oxygen at temperatures between 1,400 and 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit. The M96 rocket is filled with the riot control agent CS.
The M202 series of launchers was developed in the late 1960s as a replacement for the individual portable flamethrower in the US Army. The weapon was designed to provide the infantryman with a better means of neutralizing or destroying enemy gun emplacements and fortified positions. Initially, the complete system consisting of the XM202 launcher and a clip of 4 XM74 rockets, plus other associated equipment and additional ammunition, was designated as the XM191 Multi-Shot Portable Flame Weapon (MPFW). The US Army and the US Marine Corps both evaluated the XM191 system, including field testing in Southeast Asia by the USMC between July and October 1969. The decision to develop additional types of rockets, including the M96 rocket, led to the dropping of the complete system designation XM191 and the usage of the launcher designation and specific rocket designations separately.
The M202 series launcher and associated ammunition began being removed from front line service in the 1990s without any specific replacement. The activist website Wikileaks, however, reported that it had leaked registries of US Army equipment in Afghanistan, dated 2007, which suggested that the weapon was not only still in inventory, but had been deployed with US Army forces to that country.
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