The Finnish Defence Forces Logistic Command have procured Next Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapons (NLAWs) from Swedish-based defence company Saab on 23 February.

The order value is approximately USD$38mn (SEK400mn) with product deliveries planned during 2024.

The NLAW is a shoulder-launched, anti-tank missile system that attacks the tank from above. However, it is also suitable for destroying assault vehicles and light vehicles, as well as weapon emplacements. It combines light-armour weapons with heavy, crew-operated guided missile systems.

With an NLAW, a single solider can take out a heavily protected modern main battle tank at ranges between 20 and 800 metres according to Saab.

Finland’s order was made as part of a string of recent orders for the same product under a framework agreement between Saab and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV).

Finland had acceded to joining the framework agreement for anti-tank systems in May 2022. The agreement allows Finland to jointly procure NLAW missiles, Carl-Gustav 84 single-shots, AT4 single-shots and ammunition as well as training equipment for these weapons.

The United Kingdom (UK) also subscribes to this framework agreement.

The Finnish order follows procurements for NLAW weapons from Sweden on 15 December 2022 with a value of $86mn, and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 7 December 2022 amounting to $277mn.

The UK will be the first to receive delivery of the NLAWs this year, while Sweden and Finland will begin to receive their products in 2024.

Görgen Johansson, Head of Saab’s Business Area Dynamics, in response to the UK procurement, stated that “demand is increasing for anti-tank systems such as NLAW”.

In response to Finland’s acquisition, he stated that “I am proud to contribute to Finland’s army’s anti-tank capability with our proven NLAW system, known for being trusted by soldiers”.

The NLAW and the Javelin

The UK has provided over 4,000 anti-armour systems to Ukraine, NLAWs as well as Javelins, so the anti-armour system is well and truly in demand, as the UK seeks to restock its donated supply.

The NLAW is designed to be highly versatile within more close combat environments, like urban area warfare.

NLAWS have been used heavily in the war against Russia in the field of high intensity warfare with its capacity for 500mm armour penetration, and its lightweight capacity makes it portable for soldiers on the move with a weight of 12.5kg.

Compared to Lockheed’s celebrated FGM-148 Javelin, which is more appropriate to open spaces, the range of the NLAW does not reach as far as a Javelin missile, which reaches 2,500 metres.

However, Saab emphasises the unique combination of a guided-missile system and shoulder-fire qualities amount to a uniquely imaginative anti-armour system product with unmatched skills.