Arming The World’s Most Powerful Military, Swedish Saab To Sell Ammunitions, Anti-Tank Weapons To US Army

The US has awarded Saab an $81.8 million contract for producing and delivering AT4 anti-tank weapons and Carl-Gustaf ammunition. The US Army, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and USMC will receive the armaments. 

On September 7, Saab announced that an order worth SEK812.7 million ($81.8 million) had been placed through an IDIQ framework contract that the US Army had signed in 2019. 

This agreement permits the US to purchase single-shot AT4 shoulder-fired weapon systems and Carl-Gustaf ammunition over five years. Deliveries of the anti-tank weapon and ammunition will begin in 2024. 

The Swedish defense company says the Carl-Gustaf and AT4 weapon systems will continue to give American warfighters “significant lethal overmatch” capabilities when fighting armored enemy forces. 

Carl-Gustaf M4
Saab’s Carl-Gustaf M4 man-portable multi-role weapon system. Image: Saab

“We are proud to provide the US with a world-class, battlefield-proven and effective multipurpose shoulder-fired capability (anti-armor, anti-structure, anti-personnel, and illumination),” Saab President Erik Smith said.

The Carl-Gustaf system from Saab, also known as MAAWS in the US, is a reloadable, multipurpose system that US military forces have used since 1990.

The US Army announced in 2018 that it would purchase the Carl-Gustaf M4—the most recent iteration of the weapon (designated M3A1 in the US).

The AT4 is an 84mm shoulder-launched, disposable, preloaded, recoilless weapon with a flat trajectory and low dispersion, achieved through high velocity. 

Increasing Demand For Saab’s Weapon Systems

Several armed forces across the world have also placed Carl-Gustaf orders with Saab. In August, Norway inked a long-term arrangement with the Swedish company to supply ammunition for the latest variant of the Carl-Gustaf. 

The 15-year framework agreement calls for the supply of programmable high-explosive HE 448 rounds. The ammunition is equipped with a multi-role fuse that can be launched in impact mode to pierce soft and semi-hardened vehicles or in airburst mode to destroy infantry in open fields or trenches. 

Saab has also been contracted to provide several Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless firearms and ammo to Lithuania. The Lithuanian Defense Materiel Agency ordered $16.7 million in ammunition as part of the framework agreement.

The next-generation weapon will be utilized in counter-insurgency and peacekeeping activities and traditional force-on-force warfare in urban environments. Estonia and Latvia also sign the Carl-Gustaf framework agreement. 

On May 3 and 4, Saab and its military partners conducted a two-day live-fire demonstration of anti-armor, anti-structure, and anti-personnel weapons. It was the largest demonstration at the company’s headquarters since 2014. 

These kinds of man-portable anti-armor devices are essential because “in the end, the real war is on the ground,” Swedish Army Commander Maj. Gen. Karl Lorentz Engelbrekt Engelbrektson told reporters in June.

Saab Carl Gustaf
Saab’s Carl Gustaf weapon is key to its anti-tank weapons line. (Saab)

The latest M4 version of the Carl Gustaf (also known as “Charlie G,” “Charlie Swede,” among other nicknames) 84mm recoilless rifle serves as the centerpiece of Saab’s man-portable armament.

The system was developed and manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics at Karlskoga at Sweden’s state arsenal Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärsfaktori, established initially by the 17th century Swedish King Charles X Gustav.  

With the M4 weighing 7.5 lbs less than the previous model, Saab’s efforts to gradually lighten the system continue with this latest iteration of the well-known weapon. The weapon manufactured by the Swedish firm was also sent to Ukraine. 

The Canadian government has supplied Kyiv with 100 launchers and 2,000 rounds of ammunition. In May, a video depicting an attack on the T-90M was widely circulated on Twitter, YouTube, and other social media sites. The 127th Brigade of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Force was given credit for the kill. 

The video was published on the Twitter account of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense with the caption, “Near Stary Saltiv, Kharkiv Territorial Defense fighters eliminated another new T-90 M’ Breakthrough’ tank.

The pride of the Russian tank industry was destroyed by the Swedish hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher – Carl Gustaf. We thank the Swedish people and the King for their help.”

Sweden’s goals for its force structure are similar to what the Ukrainian armed forces have encountered in their battle with Russia.

Nevertheless, to increase Saab’s output, the Swedish MoD and other clients must make long-term commitments to larger orders, generating the necessary economies of scale.