Nato’s Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) placed an order for an undisclosed number of AT4 light, anti-armour, man-portable weapon systems produced by Sweden’s prime defence contractor, Saab.

Under this Skr700m ($66.2m) contract, booked in the last quarter of 2023, deliveries are due to take place between 2026 and 2027.

“Our AT4 stands out on the market as a highly sought-after and effective support weapon. We are honoured that the NSPA has trusted our products once again, and they can feel cnfident that they have a leading single-shot weapon that is robust and reliable,” stated Gorgen Johansson, head of Saab’s business area dynamics.

The AT4 is an 84 millimetre unguided, anti-armour weapon that is used against main battle tanks, combat vehicles, landing craft, helicopters, aricraft and other armoured vehicles.

The system is an effective weapon in protecting vital assets, fixed defence installations and key supply points.

AT4 is a one-shot weapon that has different projectiles, including HEAT (high-explosive anti-tank), AST (anti-structure tandem-warheads), ER (extended range), HE (high explosive), HP (high penetration), and RS (reduced sensitivity).

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By GlobalData

Its warhead can penetrate more than 17.5 inches of armour plate. The weapon covers a minimum arming distance of 10 metres, which makes it more accurate in targeting short distance targets.

Wooden structures, even if they are heavy timbered, do not offer any resistance to the system.

Not long after this AT4 order, the NSPA also ordered Saab to supply RBS 70 Bolide missiles, which will be delivered in 2027. Ms Celine Danielli, Programme Manager, General and Cooperative Services, observed:

“NSPA is pleased to support the Ammunition Support Partnership member nations with an additional order of missiles from Saab. This additional order for third generation all-target very short-range air defence missiles will enhance fire power capabilities and increase Nato’s air defence tactical readiness.”

This growing list of anti-armour systems comes at a time of high-intensity warfare in Ukraine, of which Nato are keen observers.

The RBS 70 short-range anti-aircraft missile was developed by Saab Bofors Dynamics primarily for the Swedish Armed Forces. Credit: Saab.

Lessons from Ukraine’s asymmetric advantage

As well as US Stinger and Javelin man-portable systems, the Ukraine Armed Forces have received thousands of AT4s since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour two years ago.

These systems are ideal for the high-intensity warfare fought in Ukraine at the moment.

There have been concerns about the vulnerability and survivability of main battle tanks on the contemporary battlefield, as well as the ability of lighter forces and indirect fires to create difficult operational problems for the enemy in high-intensity warfighting.

They provide a clear asymmetric advantage as Ukraine has been force to adapt its tactics according to the incorporation of donated reosurces from the West.

“While Ukraine has had to ration its use of Patriot missile batteries to only intercept the largest and most damaging Russian missile attacks,” GlobalData Defence Analyst Wilson Jones notes, lighter forces have found cheaper anti-armour systems to be effective against equally cheaper, yet impactful threats such as Russia’s use of Iranian Shahed uncrewed aerial vehicles.