Soldiers with Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine’s Task Force Gator train instructors in teaching Ukrainian soldiers on different skill sets. Most recently, Observer Controller/Trainers at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center and trainers with the Ukraine Land Forces Command received teaching methodology, as well as hands-on experience with the M141 Bunker Defeat Munition. The M141 is a single-use, shoulder fired system designed to penetrate fortified positions and light armored vehicles. Quantities of M141s were sent to the Ukrainian armed forces by the U.S. before the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February 2022. Since then, the munition has also been employed successfully against Russian vehicles.
“The prior experience of his Ukrainian counterparts, whether from prior training or from time spent in active conflict zones, makes them incredibly quick studies on new practices or material. The OC/Ts are incredibly competent and their previous experience enables for a smooth training experience. I’ve personally enjoyed the chances I’ve had to work hand in hand with my Ukrainian partners and to use our joint knowledge and experience to better the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” said Staff Sgt. David Blackwell, who has been assisting with teaching practices to be implemented for the M141.
The M141 Bunker Defeat Munition (BDM) is a single-shot, shoulder-launched weapon designed to defeat hardened structures. It is a modification of the United States Marine Corps Mk 153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW) and is also called the SMAW-D (where ‘D’ is for ‘Disposable’). It was designed to fill the void in the United States Army inventory of a “bunker buster” weapon. The SMAW-D operates on the principle that the recoil created by launching the rocket is counteracted by a “backblast” of gases fired from the rear of the weapon. This makes the SMAW-D inherently dangerous, especially in confined, urban areas, as is with all weapons of this design.
The M141 has two configurations: a carry mode in which the launcher is 810 mm (32 in) long, and a ready to fire mode in which the launcher is extended to its full length of 1,400 mm (55 in). The warhead is the same High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) as the USMC SMAW. It is effective against masonry and concrete bunkers as well as lightly armored vehicles. The projectile is capable of penetrating up to 200 mm (8 in) of concrete, 300 mm (12 in) of brick, or 2.1 m (6.9 ft) of sandbags. On soft targets, the detonation is delayed until the projectile is buried in the target, producing a devastating effect. The warhead detonates immediately on contact with hard targets.