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Old 09-26-2022, 04:45 PM
Vespers War Vespers War is offline
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Once again I'm introducing something that was closer to the worst that ever was, but it's a system whose promise looked good until the contractor couldn't deliver on those promises.

During the Vietnam War, the US Army was impressed by the RPG-7 and Army Missile Command was ordered to reverse-engineer it and see if the LAW could be improved. Fast-forward a number of years, and General Dynamics received a contract to build an improved version, the FGR-17 Viper, at a price of $78 a pop. At that price, the Army expected to buy 1.7 million launchers and issue them widely, with "as common as hand grenades" being mentioned in some proposals.

Then reality set in. Between the technical requirements for it to be light and low-noise (relatively - < 180 dB launch, which is still pretty damn loud), and some utterly baffling decisions to use water-soluble propellant and a magneforming process that had failed previously in the LAW's development, the Viper quickly became a boondoggle. By the time it was canceled in 1983, tens of millions of dollars had been spent on R&D and the per-unit cost had ballooned from $78 to $1,310. When the Office of the Secretary of Defense issued an ultimatum to get the unit price down to $400, GD balked and Congress canceled the program, then ordered the Army to test off-the-shelf systems, leading to the adoption of the AT4.

If it had seen service, the Viper would have been somewhere around these stats:
Wt 4 kg, ROF 1, Rld *, Rng 60, Round HEAT, Damage C:4 B:5, Pen 60C

It's not a terribly good system even with fairly optimistic stats, being twice the weight of a LAW for an extra 10 meters of range and 5 points of Pen. The big advantage would have been the price if it could have been made at the original $78 each, and a universe where that happened likely would see extremely widespread deployment of the weapon, even if it was mostly useful against light armored vehicles and unlikely to do much more than piss off a tank (as the USMC used as justification for backing out of the program).
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