Saab and Raytheon Company will demonstrate for Pentagon officials next spring a new, precision-guided munition for the Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle that's designed to double the range of the highly effective, 84mm anti-armor weapon.
Back in 2017, the Army approved a requirement for more than 1,100 M3E1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon Systems, the latest version of the potent weapon special operations forces have been using since the early 1990s. Army light infantry units first began using the older M3 version in Afghanistan in 2011 when the AT4 proved ineffective.
Saab's breech-loading weapon can reach out and hit hardened enemy targets up to 1,000 meters away.
After teaming up in 2017, Saab and Raytheon have developed a new, laser-guided munition with a reduced back-blast area that can be fired within a small enclosure; it will be capable of defeating hardened targets up to 2,000 meters away, Michael Höglund, head of Business Unit Ground Combat for Saab, Business Area Dynamics, told Military.com on Thursday.
"We can shoot at longer range. It basically doubles the range of the current ammunition, and we can pinpoint it and we can shoot from confined spaces," Höglund said.
The team demonstrated the technology in Sweden in September, firing two inert rounds at stationary targets from 1,400 meters away and a third inert round at a moving target from 1,800 meters away, he said.
"When we did the third and final demo, and it was spectacular ... we used a moving target at a range of about 1,800 meters, and we shot it from within a confined space as well and it was a perfect hit," said Höglund, adding that future tests will exceed 2,000 meters.
The team has a requirement for this capability through Special Operations Command, said Ty Blanchard, who manages the Guided Carl-Gustaf Munition for Raytheon.
In September 2018, the Pentagon awarded a $2.5 million rapid innovation fund contract to the team "to go out and demonstrate three guided shots with a warhead next spring," Blanchard said.
Currently, the technology requires operators to "laze the whole way in to the target," he said.
"We are looking at potentially down the road ... at some different seekers that will upgrade that capability," Blanchard said, adding that the munition will still be extremely effective at hardened targets such as bunkers and armored vehicles.
During the demonstration next spring, the team will shoot the new munition at triple-brick wall, eight inches of double-reinforced concrete and an up-armored sport-utility vehicle, he said.
"What this really does is it tries to bring a precision, extended-range capability down to the infantry and squad level within the U.S. and international markets," Blanchard said.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at email@example.com.