US DoD expands AT4, Carl-Gustaf ammo supply in multi-million-dollar deal

An extension to an existing contract framework enables the US to continue to purchase ammunition for Saab’s shoulder-fired anti-armour/anti-personnel weapon systems.

Richard Thomas September 18 2023

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has expanded a current framework agreement with Saab for AT4 systems and Carl-Gustaf ammunition, with the new $104.9m (Skr1.17bn) order expected to be delivered between 2024-2026.

The Indefinite Delivery, Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) framework agreement was originally signed in 2019, the extension to which will allow the US to place additional orders to Saab for up to $422m. The new order within the framework agreement includes AT4CS RS systems and the latest high explosive round for Carl-Gustaf weapon system, HE 448, designated as HE 441E in the United States.

According to an 18 September Saab release the latest order will support the US Army, US Special Operations Command and the US Marine Corps.

The shoulder-launched AT4CS RS is a man-portable, disposable anti-armour capability that first entered US Army service in 1985, with more than 700,000 AT4 systems in the US. Around the world, a further 14 countries deploy the AT4CS RS or its variants.

The Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle is a multi-purpose anti-personnel/anti-armour system can be equipped with specialist ammunition such as the HE 448 (designated the HW 441E in the US), which has a multi-role fuse that can be configured for impact mode for the targeting of sift-skinned vehicles, or in airburst mode when engaging enemy combatants.

Demand for Saab's shoulder-mounted solutions increasing

Swedish OEM Saab has seen demand for its shoulder carried anti-armour and anti-personnel systems such as the AT4 and Carl-Gustaf increase in recent months as the ongoing fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to impact the defence market.

In March this year the UK committed to a £4.6m ($5.7m) package for the acquisition of up to 56 Carl-Gustaf M4 recoiless rifles, in part as replacement for weapon systems donated, such as the famed NLAW, to Ukraine. A contract to replenish the UK’s NLAW stocks was agreed with Saab in December 2022, although deliveries will take some time to work through the manufacturing pipeline.  

According to UK Defence Equipment & Support, an arm of the UK Ministry of Defence, the Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle is a multi-role weapon system that allows dismounted soldiers to “effectively deal” with multiple challenges and targets on the modern battlefield. It can fire a range of 84mm calibre munitions, depending on the target and battlefield requirements.

However, using the Carl-Gustaf anti-armour roles will not be as effective as is the case with more advanced alternatives such as NLAW or the Javelin, which are able to conduct top attack flight modes to target the weakest points of an enemy vehicle.

The Carl-Gustaf meanwhile is unable to perform such modes, although can leverage a range of munition types, such as the HEDP 502/502 RS, which has an effective range of 500m.

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