Several years ago, I wrote an article based on my experiences where I talked about the increasing use of anti-tank missiles against targets like sniper nests and infantry positions. I followed that up by making a video on the topic back in early 2020. In these I discussed the need for a cheap, precision weapon that could be used down to squad level. This would provide infantry with what has been recognized as a critical ability, but without using hugely expensive specialist weapons like ATGWs.
Back in 2017 they started jointly developing an updated munition for the Carl-Gustaf range of shoulder-launched recoilless weapons. This has created a new 84mm projectile that has semi-active laser homing guidance. The new munition can therefore be guided to a precise point by a designator who does not actually have to be close to the launcher, an important tactical consideration.
With a 2500 metre range, the new munition has an advanced warhead capable of penetrating light armor, bunkers and concrete structures while minimizing collateral damage. It also is reported to be usable within confined spaces. This is a problem with older munitions used by the Carl Gustaf, which as a recoilless rifle has a large backblast that is dangerous to a user in an enclosed space such as a room.
Because the projectile is developed for use in an existing and standard weapon, it has the potential for rapid fielding once development is complete. In fact, I would not be surprised if it is not already seeing field use with US Special Forces, who requested its development.
The Carl Gustaf is an extremely common weapon system, in fact first going into service in 1948. Fielded by over forty countries, it is essentially the western equivalent to the Russian RPG and has been subject of continuous development ever since.
This has seen the weapon become lighter, more efficient and much more effective against a range of targets, with diverse projectiles meaning that the Charlie-G – as it is affectionally known – is a capable anti-armour, -structure and -personnel weapon still.
But this new munition takes the Carl Gustaf to a whole new level.
Additionally, Saab state that the munition can be integrated into the AT-4 disposable launcher as well. That means that you now have the option of the individual rifleman having a precision guided weapon available. Theoretically, each infantryman in a squad could carry one, with a designator carried at the platoon, squad or even fire team level as the technology progresses.
That would provide an amazing amount of capability at the most basic tactical level.
Imagine it, with one squad under fire, another could las their problem from cover and blast it precisely and effectively. No need for calling in support. No waiting whilst under fire. That is a very useful thing to have.
Additionally, this provides a great answer to the threat of armoured suicide car bombs. These I believe will become a significant major threat into the future, another topic on which I have done a video on.
Now I must admit, the manufacturers have not released the price of the new round – well, not to me at least. And it is possible that a cheaper option than the new 84mm munition could be developed to meet this requirement.
But one thing is certain, Saab and Raytheon’s new weapon is certainly a big step in the right direction. And I suspect it will prove extremely popular.