Why the Army doesn’t bring back the 106mm RR

Timactual in the comments on the M8 AGS asks a reasonable question:

“The three man crew could bolt on the additional protection in a couple hours with simple hand tools.”

Why, oh why, am I so skeptical.

Why not bring back the 106 mm. reckless rifle? Mount it on an modified and armored Humvee, like the Germans did with the Marder.

I like the M40 106mm Recoilless Rifle (which has proven popular with Syrian rebels). It’s a nifty weapon. My thoughts on why the Army doesn’t bring it back into service are pure speculation, of course, but I think you’ll see the logic has merit.

First, as to his skepticism about mounting the bolt on armor, it really was pretty easy to do.

As to why you’d want a rifled cannon mounted on a vehicle instead of an M40- the M40 was only capable of defeating armor via its HEAT warhead.  It’s low muzzle velocity ruled out using any kinetic penetrator. HEAT warheads offer fantastic penetration for a given size round. The problem is, they can be defeated by a pretty wide variety of simple countermeasures. See the slat armor on US Stryker vehicles deployed in the war zones. Or simply a little vegetation can set off the warhead before it reaches the armor. The 105mm main gun of the M8 can fire existing sabot rounds that are fully capable of defeating tanks up to various T-72 models. And if you’re facing a threat with more advanced armor than that, you’re going to need more than Airborne forces anyway.

As to why the Army doesn’t bring back the M40 to complement the firepower of Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, I suspect it is mostly because, they don’t really need it. IBCTs are fairly generously equipped with the TOW and Javelin missile.

A Javelin is a crapload more expensive per shot than an M40. On the other hand, it is also virtually a one shot/one kill system with greater effective range than an M40. And the Army has so many TOW missiles in the inventory, we can afford to expend them at a pretty brisk rate for years and years to come. Most stocks of US 106mm ammo are expired, and the ammunition in use today overseas is made overseas.

As much as I like the M40, I just don’t think bringing it back would solve any issues that can’t be address by other means. Yeah, you could probably save a little money, but there’s no gain in combat effectiveness, so why bother?

12 thoughts on “Why the Army doesn’t bring back the 106mm RR”

  1. So we’re back to an armoured Humvee carrying a Javelin team. What purpose would the M8 have other than improved mobility?

    1. Besides improved protection (being at least bullet-proof and splinter-proof matters, HMMWV armor is kind of a joke), you have the lethality of the 105mm gun. A direct fire gun does things a missile can’t, like get there in an instant and not be spoofed in flight. Missiles are great to have as well, and there’s nothing to stop a crew from carrying a CLU and a few tubes in a bustle rack.

  2. I would think it could still find some good employment. Surely would make more sense than shooting expensive ATGMs at bunkers and buildings.

  3. The 106 “Reckless Rifle” has a back blast that must be seen to be appreciated. Employment must always accommodate said back blast not only for crew and blue force safety, but also for the visual cue that is provided OPFOR via back blast. Conversely the sight is very simple and highly accurate. At AIT our M40’s were mounted on M-151’s (bad choice even then), and we were taught to “shoot and scoot.”

  4. Several highway departments use the 106RR for avalanche control.
    I think there is even an M60 Tank somewhere on Snoqualmie Pass for the same thing…

  5. How expensive are TOW’s? If we have a crap ton of them why not?

    My fishing buddy was in his words, “100 and worst, dog company, TOW gunner. BOHECA!”

    I fish with the guy, we tell stories.

  6. I have for awhile wondered if you couldn’t pull the TOW boxes off an M3 Bradley scout vehicle and replace them with a 106mm recoilless. Giving you a cheap direct fire capability. How much 106 mm ammo could you store in place of the TOW missile loadout of the scout Bradley? Would seem to be quite good enough for use against bunkers and strongpoints, and adequate for opposing IFV’s assuming the 25mm chain gun wasn’t up to the task. I’m sure it’s technically feasible to build a recoilless that could be reloaded while under armor, a sideloading breach I’m sure could be built. Besides the backblast and possible loss of accuracy (offset with increased training time and increased ammo capacity hopefully) what would be the downsides?

    1. Why not just stick to the TOW? We’ve got literally tens of thousands of the things. You’d only get about a 2 for 1 ammo rate, and that doesn’t even begin to get into the problem of having to boresight and zero the launcher box. Which, right now, you can afford a pretty crappy boresight on the launcher box, and the missile will still capture and guide. But you’d have to be dead on with a 106.

    2. Also, where are you finding this “increased training time” you’re speaking of? I would like some of that…

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