The Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon, commonly known as the SMAW or Mk 153 SMAW, is a reusable American multi-role rocket launcher.


The SMAW was designed in the 1980s as a development of the Israeli B-300 rocket launcher. The weapon was first fielded in 1984 by the United States Marine Corps. However, the system demonstrated a few shortcomings, all of which were rectified in the 2000s with the introduction of a few modifications, such as the rewriting of operator's manuals and the addition of a kit to reduce environmental intrusion into the firing mechanism.

The weapon is known to have been deployed by the United States Army during Operation Desert Storm; a total of 150 launchers and 5,000 rockets were deployed. While the Army initially showed interest, the launchers were ultimately returned to the United States Marine Corps; the Army ended up developing their own version of the SMAW, known as the SMAW-D, designated as the M141 Bunker Defeat Munition. An upgraded version of the SMAW, known as the Mk 153 Mod 2, began fielding by the US Marine Corps in November 2017.

A program was started by the Marine Corps in 2002, tentatively titled Follow On To SMAW; the resultant contract was ultimately awarded to Lockheed Martin and IMI, with the resulting weapon being the FGM-172 SRAW. Ultimately, the SRAW was used to augment the use of the SMAW as opposed to replacing it.

A "next-gen" version of the SMAW, known as the SMAW II or Serpent, has been in development and has yet to be fielded.

Design DetailsEdit

The SMAW is a reusable breech-loaded launcher loaded by disposable single rocket casings inserted in the rear of the weapon. An enhanced development of the Israeli B-300 launcher, the SMAW resembles the B-300 greatly in terms of appearance. The rocket casings have a 83.5 mm (3.29 in) bore diameter and fire 83 mm (3.3 in) rockets. The main SMAW weapon platform consists of the launcher itself, four types of rockets (HEDP, HEAA, NE and Practice) and a side-mounted 9mm spotting rifle.

The launcher itself consists of a fiberglass-epoxy composite launch tube, side-mounted spotting rifle, electromechanical firing mechanism, mounting brackets, open battle sights and a mount for the Mk 42 Mod 0 day sight, AN/PVS-4 night sight or AN/PVS-17B night sight. The launch tube has gelcoat on the bore.

On the right side of the launch tube, a spotting rifle is mounted. The rifle is designed by ROF Radway Green[1] and functions semi-automatically via primer actuation (i.e. when fired, the primer sets back and unlocks the breech of the spotting rifle, ejecting the round in the process). The rifle is fed by five-round box magazines, and if required, the AN/PEQ-2 aiming light can be used in place of the spotting rifle. The spotting rifle is fired mechanically while the launch tube is fired by a magnet. The later Mk 153 Mod 2 variant of the SMAW ditches the spotting rifle entirely and uses an electronic modular ballistic sight in place of the spotting rifle.


The SMAW uses 83mm rockets available in four variations; the Mk 13 Mod 0 encased HEDP rocket, the Mk 6 Mod 0 encased HEAA, the Mk 7 Mod 0 encased practice rocket and the Mk 80 Mod 0 encased NE rocket.

The SMAW's spotting rifle uses the Mk 217 Mod 0 spotting rifle cartridge, also known as the 9×51mm SMAW. The round consists of a 7.62×51mm NATO case necked up and fitted with a special 9mm projectile; inside the 7.62mm case is a .22 Hornet case filled with primer used to fire the round. When fired, the .22 Hornet case backs out approximately 0.25 inches (6.4 millimetres) to unlock the breech; fired cases have a very peculiar appearance.[1]


As with most weapons of its type, a main safety concern during the operation of the SMAW is its backblast area; this is especially so for the SMAW as its backblast is known to be extremely violent and loud, due to the rocket propellant being expended within the rocket's encasement.

When fired, the backblast extends in a ninety meter, 60° cone to the rear of the weapon; this blackblast is lethal up to about 30 meters and remains extremely dangerous to 90 meters.[2] To combat this, assistant gunners are employed to monitor the backblast area and clear the area of troops or to notify the gunner of obstructions that may reflect the force of the backblast back at the gun team; the gunner may only fire upon hearing "Backblast area secure" from the assistant gunner.

Additional rockets are being developed that enable the user to fire the SMAW in an enclosed area without risk of injury, but remain as, if not more lethal than current rockets.[3]


Mk 153 Mod 0

Basic variant.

Mk 153 Mod 2

Improved variant aimed at increasing system accuracy, reliability, maintainability and survivability of the operator.[4] 1,249 launchers are to be delivered by October 2020.[5]

SMAW II "Serpent"

"Next-gen" variant of the SMAW developed by Raytheon Missile Systems and Nammo Talley. The project aims to reduce the weight of the SMAW by about 4.5 pounds (2.0 kilograms), and be ready for deployment by 2012;[6] the weapon has yet to be deployed.


Prototype variant of the SMAW that is designed to be able to be fired safely within confined spaces.[7] It has yet to be deployed or put into service.

M141 Bunker Defeat Munition

US Army-specific modification of the SMAW to fill the void of a "bunker buster" weapon.