USA delivered single-use M141 Bunker Defeat Munitions to Ukraine, coming from the US Army arsenal. This armament is designed for neutralization of fortifications and is also suitable to act against non-armoured assets and light armour – such as APCs or infantry fighting vehicles. This constitutes a portion of the first lot delivered as a part of the support package worth $200 million.
The photos depicting the loading of M141 weapons onto a plane that landed in Kyiv on 22nd January were published by the USAF 436th Aerial Port Squadron PAO. The base is working on the delivery of FMS equipment from Dover AFB in Delaware. The goods carried included the well-known Javelin ATGMs and the M141 weapons – the latter had not been delivered beforehand, or at least no official information on that was released.
M141 Bunker Defeat Munition is a specific-purpose weapon – as the name suggests it can be used against bunkers and fortified positions. The launchers have been designed for the US Army to fill in the capability gap in the area of neutralizing the enemy fortifications. The weapon is a single-use launcher with a High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) warhead used by the USMC in the SMAW 83 mm multiple-use launchers, hence the name SMAW-D – with D standing for Disposable.
The M141 weighs a little over 7 kilograms. The launcher is of conventional, simple design, with a launch container that is 81 centimeters (32 inches long). After extending the launcher to its full length of 140 centimeters, it is already armed and ready for launch. The effective range is defined as 15 to 500 meters. The missile features a warhead with a fuse that operates in two ways, depending on the target hardness/softness. If the projectile hits a hard obstacle it explodes immediately and the HEAT warhead can penetrate around 200 mm of concrete or 300 mm of bricks. It can easily penetrate armour of BTR-80/82 or BMP-2 IFVs. When encountering a soil barrier or sandbags, the warhead detonation is delayed and happens after the outer layer is penetrated. Thanks to the above, the weapon can easily go through a 2-meter thick layer of sandbags.
M141 BDM launchers have been commissioned in the US Army in 1999, in small quantities, and solely to be used during foreign deployments. They have emerged in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The US Army procured several thousand examples, most of which have been used. There is no info available on the SMAW-D quantity delivered to Ukraine. As the loading photographs show, the above refers to two pallets, 50 launchers each, in the aircraft that departed on 22nd January. Another aircraft landed in Kyiv a day later, however, no specific data has been released on the cargo.
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