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infantryweapons - New Zealand Defence Alternatives


Infantry Weapons

Field Resources > Infantry Weapons

Introduction From this page Field Operations Objectives Basic Elements Brigades Combat Brigade Operations Brigade Support Brigade Emergency Brigade Interoperation Equipment Armour Helicopters Light Vehicles Logistics Vehicles Heavy Weapons Support Equipment Infantry Heavy Weapons Infantry Combat System Auxiliaries Equipment Emergency Brigade The most important platoon weapon is the M203 40mm grenade launcher. There are two of these in every infantry team or four per section. With a range of 200 metres the launcher can fire armour piercing high explosive rounds that can blow in lightly armoured vehicles or masonry walls, or with fragmentation rounds take out enemy machineguns or troop concentrations. But equally important the 40mm grenade also comes in a range of non-lethal flavours including the plastic baton bullet which will knock an adult down and The armament of a platoon depends very much on whether it is on foot or vehicle (but not helicopter) mounted. Typically a platoon consists of three sections of eight. Each section is in a team of four. Typically a Ranger or Grenadier team will consist of 4 soldiers armed with 1 x Minimi LMGs (1 per team) 2 x rifles with 40mm GL 1 x rifle (one with sniper scope) and commanded by a Corporal or the section sergeant.

Pl at oon Le v e l We a pon s
The philosophy of support weapons for the platoon is based on the notion that many engagements will take place in areas where the potential for collateral civilian casualties is high and the political and operational consequences of such casualties are significant. As such while troops are issued automatic weapons these are intended to be the most accurate automatic weapons available. Support weapons must also encourage troops to avoid collateral damage wherever possible by offering non-lethal and precise alternatives to simple firepower, while, and at the same time providing ample firepower in situations where this is, indeed required. The weapons below provide units with a very high firepower capability to 200 metres, a high firepower capability to 300-400m, but then confine firepower to sniping and suppressive fire at beyond this range.

Basic Team Weapons

Infantry Grenade Launcher

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infantryweapons - New Zealand Defence Alternatives


break ribs or legs but rarely kill, CS-gas which will force those without gas masks to flee and prevent them from fighting, and the Singaporese have developed a high-tech stun version which uses an electric charge to knock people out. In any section of eight at least two soldiers will have a grenade launcher.

Light Machine Gun

FN Herstal Minimi There are times when any infantry unit needs the ability to produce heavy fire to either keep the enemy's heads down while the unit moves, or simply to murder a lot of people at once. The Mk 46 Minimi is the preferred LMG of US Special Forces and is adopted as a compliment to the 5.56mm SCAR. The force does not have a 7.62mm machine gun in order to simplify ammunition logistics. Platoons are not intended to engage in anything other than sniper fire beyond 500m. If longer range firepower is needed the company level support weapons should be employed.

Section Level Weapons

Section level weapons are typically only used when sections have motorised transport or deployed in a static role and supported by helicopters. This is because the weapons, and their ammunition, are heavy. Rangers may carry one on section level weapon on long foot patrols as needed.

CIS 40mm auto grenade-launcher

The automatic 40mm Grenade Launcher is a bigger and harder hitting version of the rifle mounted weapon. Its sort of a machine-gun on mega steroids. This weapon still fires the same range of ammunition types as the rifle-mounted version except it fires more shells faster out to a mile (1.5km) away. Its primary use is to secure positions from advance and its primary benefit is that it can be lethal to vehicles such as the LAV3 . The weapon can be mounted on the top hatches of RG-33s, BVS210s or AMVs and then removed as needed. Although the weapon is rather heavy fr longer marches (the CIS one is 15kg which is half the weight of the big ones) it would normally be broken down and distributed

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infantryweapons - New Zealand Defence Alternatives


over a section of eight.

Carl Gustav 84mm recoiless rifle

The Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless gun (used by the NZDF today) is a long way from the state-of-the-art in man-portable anti-tank weaponry it was when it was first developed back in the 1960s. However interestingly in Iraq the US Army has been discovering the benefits of these relatively simple but extremely flexible weapons. Basically the Carl Gustav is a bazooka which fires a range of heavy shells out to around 600 metres. The shells can blow up light and medium armoured vehicles and take out heavier ones if the user catches them from behind but it can also take out buildings, reinforced positions and anything else that a might otherwise hold up an infantry company. In effect it is rather like very short range artillery and despite its age still very useful to have around.

Sniper's Rifles

In many counter-insurgency situations units will come under sniper fire or may discover insurgents at long range. The traditional platoon would be equipped with a general purpose machine gun, and while there is a place for machine-guns at ranges over 500 metres they are not accurate enough for safe use when there is the possibility of collateral damage. To avoid this one of a section's snipers may have a Barrett M95 0.50 calibre heavy sniper rifle. This rifle weighs 12kg and fires a half inch diameter bullet up to 2km. The weapons are for taking out vehicles, installations or people under armour or behind cover.

Platoon Level Weapons

Platoon level weapons are usually only employed on a one per platoon basis. This is because a platoon of 24 soldiers won't need more than one of them anyway.

60mm Commando Mortar

The 60mm light "commando" mortar is not a particularly accurate weapon but that is not its role. Its prime purpose is to fire illuminating flares, and to drop CS gas or smoke on enemy positions in order to soften up a target for attack or to cover a retreat. The main

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benefit of this weapon is that it can be fired from behind cover so that return fire is made rather difficult.

Electronic Counter-Measures

Portable radio/cellular jamming system for denying command and control or access to remotely detonated explosive devices. This example is from Netline. This equipment is especially important where opposing units may be rapidly demoralised throught lack of command or support. It can also be useful when seizing assets.

Laser Designator

The laser designator bounces encoded laser light off a target to illuminate it for homing warheads either from aircraft or ground-fired weapons. Such precision-guided weapons are crucial to enhanced accuracy that reduces the possibility of collateral (civilian) damage.

Specialist Weapons
These weapons are deployed by specialist troops trained in their use.

Rafael Spike anti-tank missile

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If the Carl Gustav is not a state-of-the-art anti-tank weapon then the Rafael Spike anti-tank guided missile is. More expensive than the medium range US Javelin(range 2,500m) system opted for by the NZ Army this Israeli anti-tank missile is notable for being a family of weapons which are also mounted on vehicles and aircraft. Spike was adopted by the Poles whose primary consideration in their recent rearmament was not economising but effectiveness. Spike comes in Short Range ( 800m) Medium Range (2,500m) Long range (4km) and Extended Range (8km) versions. The warheads are supersonic, laser guided and can defeat all known tank armour. Spike is only used in deployments where hostile heavy armour is anticipated substituting for Carl Gustav. Customers for Spike include Singapore and Poland which bought "several thousand" as part of a ten year contract for US$250 million. The Poles noted that while the system is not the cheapest on the market it is certainly the most cost-effective. The missile uses "top attack" to attack armoured targets from above avoiding the thickest armour. It can also be re-targeted even when in flight in case of new developments. The versions sought are the Long and Extended Range missiles. A reasonable budget for a purchase of a dozen launchers plus missiles would be US$25 million. The Spike-ER is used by the Armoured platoon by dismounted infantry for sniping tanks from cover. This reduces the temptation for light vehicle commanders to try duking it out with proper armour.

Note on Anti-aircraft missiles

There is no intention to equip troops with shoulder launched anti-aircraft weapons. This is to discourage politicians from deploying them to places where they may be exposed to enemy aircraft attack. Enemy aircraft mean you are engaging a seriously wealthy enemy and you ought to have air superiority. Anti-aircraft weapons remain the province of the Artillery company in order to ensure special forces troops do not get involved in adventures beyond the scope of anti-aircraft cover that allies or NZ artillery can provide.

This study is copyright to Peter King

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