NLAW (Next Generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) is a Swedish-made anti-tank guided missile developed by SAAB together with the British Thales Air Defense. On the manufacturer’s website indicated: service life – 20 years. So the British NLAW, transferred to Ukraine, will serve for at least 7 more years.
The weapon is designed specifically for urban combat. The “soft start” system allows launching from an enclosed space, that is, tanks can be fired from the windows of city houses. Just like Javelin, NLAW works on the principle of “fire and forget”, that is, it aims at a target, including a moving one, automatically. It is also in service with the armies of Finland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Indonesia.
In 2019, the Russian portal “InVoen Info – military thought and military affairs abroad” wrote:
“The Swedish multidisciplinary defense concern Saab is actively promoting its own anti-tank weapon NLAW (pronounced “EnLo”) on the market. According to experts, in the context of a sharply aggravated security situation, means of combating armored targets are of particular relevance.
In this area, Saab’s Next Generation Light Anti-Tank-Weapon (NLAW) light anti-tank weapon offers a unique combination of light weight and size with ease of use and extreme accuracy. <…>
The missile of the complex (caliber – 115 mm, warhead – 150 mm) has an inertial control system capable of taking into account environmental conditions and target movement parameters. When aiming, the “calculated visual guidance” method (Predicted Line of Sight, PLOS) is used. Before launching, the gunner aims the sight at the tank and visually accompanies it for 3–5 seconds. During this period, the NLAW computer will calculate the necessary flight parameters for the rocket.
The system is based on the principle of “shot – forgot”, in which, after the launch, the missile is aimed at the target on its own. Moreover, if the shooter was aiming at the center of the target, its trajectory will pass a meter above the affected tank. At the moment of flight over the machine, the detonation of the warhead leads to the formation of a fiery jet penetrating the target from above at a speed of 10,000 m/s.
The combat properties of the system make it possible to use NLAW to destroy less protected armored vehicles or targets in shelters. In this case, the frontal attack mode (Direct Attack, DA) is applied. Changing the mode of combat use is regulated by the corresponding switch. Field tests have shown that at ranges from 20 to 800 m, the probability of hitting a target with an NLAW anti-tank weapon from the first shot exceeds 90%.
So the “obsolete” weapon that the British are “getting rid of” is actually one of the most modern and effective anti-tank weapons systems.