By Tim Wing, Pieter Thomassen, with Peter Walker, Chris Meadows and Robert Morgenstern
- RL-2 reference file
- RL-2 gallery
Designation: Bofors RL-2 95mm Anti-Mecha Recoilless Rifle
- Year Introduced: 2020
- Design and Manufacturer: Bofors Anti-Armour AB
- Acquiring Military: UEEF, UEDF
- Capacity: 1 rocket
- Weight: 7.3kg
- Length: 150 cm
As the Reconnaissance Expeditionary Force (REF) prepared to depart on its search for the Robotech Masters, one of its chief concerns was how to fight them when it found them. Veritech mecha were only part of the equation; the REF knew that it was very likely their infantry would face mecha in the field, and a feasible anti-mecha energy rifle design was still years away. Thus, the REF turned to the anti-armor expedient that had served mankind well for most of a century: shaped-charge high explosives. The RL-1 rocket launcher was a good starting point, but it had been designed as a counter to unarmored or lightly-armored Zentraedi soldiers; it lacked sufficient punch to penetrate even the relatively flimsy Reguld battlepods and the like, let alone heavier mecha.
What the REF needed was a heavier weapon that could penetrate the armor of larger Zentraedi and Tirolian mecha and, if not destroy the mecha outright, still kill the pilot inside. In response to this need, Bofors offered an update to their tried and true Carl Gustav recoilless rifle. The Carl Gustaf was an 84 mm man-portable reusable anti-tank recoilless rifle produced by Bofors Anti-Armour AB in Sweden. This weapons system was first introduced in 1948, and was still in widespread use by the individual armies of the Unified Forces well through the Malcontent Uprisings. After the consolidation of the Unified Forces under the Treaty of the Southern Cross (thus forming the United Earth Defense Forces – UEDF), the Carl Gustav continued on in service until the invasion of the Invid in 2031, and continued to be used throughout the occupation by resistance fighters.
The RL-2 took the Carl Gustav design, and simply enlarged it from 84mm to 95mm, and lengthened the barrel by 40 cm. With its heavier round and longer range, the RL-2 was capable of crippling all known Zentraedi mecha with a single shot. Because of the heavier concussion caused when firing the RL-2, both the REF and the UEDF mandated that the weapon only be fired by soldiers wearing hard body armor. This is not to say that the RL-2 couldn’t be fired by an unarmored soldier, but it was… painful.
Although the RL-2 was used often and to good effect during the early years of the REF’s campaigns, the REF only rarely encountered enemy mecha tough enough to require its powerful warhead over that of the RL-1’s. With the introduction of the Cyclone and its RL-6 interface, the RL-2 fell into disuse. Nonetheless, it remained part of the UEEF’s arsenal in throughout the Invid Occupation. The RL-2 was also adopted by the Southern Cross, who used it in addition to the older Carl Gustav. The RL-2 was occasionally used by the anti-Invid resistance after the invasion of Earth, but not as frequently as the RL-6. Today, the RL-2 is still in use with the Terran Union Marine Corps, Earth’s Federal Combined Planetary Forces and the planetary defense forces of most of Earth’s colonies. Because it, and the original Carl Gustav, are such simple designs that are only limited by the imaginations of munitions designers, they will both likely remain in service for the foreseeable future.
From its inception, the RL-2 was available with a variety of ammunition types. Though originally only the standard non-guided High Explosive (HE) and High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) rounds, by the late twenties an impressive number of conventional and guided rounds were available. Rounds with terminal guidance were of either the heat seeking variety, or laser guided. Heat seeking rounds could be fired from any RL-2 variant and would automatically lock onto the strongest heat source within a 30 degree field of fire. Laser guided rounds could be fired from any version of the RL-2, but required either an external laser designator to paint the target or the integrated laser designator from the RL-2A2 onwards. Improvements to the ammunition of the RL-2 has been continual.
UEDF RL-2 rounds, circa 2029. (For a full list of RL-2 ammunition, see 95mm Recoilless Rifle Round technical file entry.)
- RRR-M100 is an unguided HE round, useful in a “lobbed” trajectory to 1,600 m, which can be fused to either detonate on impact or as an airburst.
- RRR-M100B is an unguided HE round with an effective range against personnel in the open of 1,700 m. The round arms after 20 to 70 m of flight.
- RRR-M152 is a smoke round fired like the RRR100, with a range of about 2,000 m.
- RRR-M162 is an unguided HEDP round with the ability to be set to detonate on either impact or one-tenth of a second afterwards. Effective range is 1,600 m against dispersed soft targets such as infantry in the open, 800 m against stationary targets and 500 m against moving targets. Minimum range is 15 to 40 m to arm the warhead. Penetration exceeds 350 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA).
- RRR-M154 is an illuminating star shell, fired up to 2,900 m maximum range, but with an effective envelope of 300 to 2,100 m. Suspended by parachute, the star shell burns for 30 seconds while producing 650,000 candela, providing a 400 to 500 m diameter area of illumination.
- RRR-M155 is the primary unguided HEAT round and is a rocket-assisted projectile (RAP). Effective range is up to 1,300 m (1,000 m against moving targets) and penetration up to 600 mm of RHA.
- RRR-M156P is a practice round with the same ballistics as the M100.
- RRR-M165 is a newer HEAT round using mid-flight rocket assistance for ranges up to 1,000m. In theory, it has less penetration than the M155, but it includes a stand-off probe for the fuse to improve performance against reactive armor.
- RRR-M175 is a tandem-warhead HEAT round with an effective range of 900 m and ability to penetrate more than 700 mm of armor.
- RRR-M176 CS (Confined Spaces) HEAT round that can be fired from within small enclosures.
- RRR-M216 is an IR guided HEDP round with the ability to be set to detonate on either impact or one-tenth of a second afterwards. Effective range is 1,600 m against all targets, moving or stationary. Minimum range is 15 to 40 m to arm the warhead. Penetration exceeds 350 mm of rolled homogeneous armor (RHA). Note that the IR seeker will lock onto the strongest heat source, enemy or otherwise.
- RRR-M220 is a laser guided HEAT round and is a rocket-assisted projectile (RAP). Effective range is up to 1,500 m against all targets, moving or stationary. Penetration up to 550 mm of RHA.
- RRR-M165 is an IR guided HEAT round using mid-flight rocket assistance for ranges up to 1,500 m. Penetration up to 550 mm of RHA.
- RRR-M232 is a laser guided tandem-warhead HEAT round with an effective range of 800 m and ability to penetrate more than 700 mm of armor.
Robotech (R) is the property of Harmony Gold. Genesis Climber MOSPEADA (R) is the property of Fuji Television, Artmic Studio and Tatsunoko Production. This document is in no way intended to infringe upon their rights.
Original artwork by: Yoshitaka Amano, Shinji Aramaki and Hideki Kakinuma
Acknowledgement is extended to Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide. Peter Walker, Pieter Thomassen and Robert Morgenstern are given credit for all quotes and paraphrasing of the unofficial Robotech Reference Guide that has been utilized in this publication.
Images from – Art Book Genesis Climber MOSPEADA Complete Art Works (August 2009), Robotech II: The RPG, The Sentinels (September 1988)
Content by Tim Wing, Peter Walker and Pieter Thomassen, with Chris Meadows and Rob Morgenstern
Copyright © 2006, 1999, 1997 Robert Morgenstern, Pieter Thomassen, Peter Walker; 2016 Tim Wing