‘Weapon Of Choice’ For US & Indian Army, Pentagon OKs Anti-Armor Rounds For Carl-Gustaf Recoilless Rifles To Ukraine

The US is set to provide Ukraine with anti-armor ammunition for Carl Gustaf rifles as part of the new $775 million security assistance program, a senior US Defense Department official said on Friday. 

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The anti-armor equipment used by the Ukrainian soldiers has shown to be capable of stopping and destroying Russian mechanized armored advances. Under the latest package, Kyiv will acquire 2,000 anti-armor rounds for systems like the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle and 1,500 TOW anti-tank missiles.

In the new $775 million security aid package, the Joe Biden administration will supply Ukraine with the necessary equipment for five additional military systems.

The official added that the $775 million package, the 19th granted to Ukraine under the Presidential Drawdown Authority, will shortly be announced by the Biden administration. The declaration follows the approval of $1 billion in security assistance for Ukraine on August 8.

Carl-Gustaf M4
Carl-Gustaf M4

The official noted that there are five new categories of military hardware in the package that has not yet been delivered to Ukraine. 

The following equipment is intended to be supplied: 105mm howitzer artillery cannons, ScanEagle reconnaissance drones, tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided (TOW) anti-tank missiles, mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) light vehicles, and anti-armor ammunition for Carl Gustaf rifles.

Additionally, the US will also deliver 16 howitzers and 36,000 rounds of artillery ammunition. The senior US Defense Department official also highlighted the usage of 15 ScanEagles drones to support the howitzers and other long-range weapons. 

The security assistance package will facilitate the supply of 40 MRAP vehicles, along with the 50 armored Humvees, which will boost the maneuverability of Ukrainian forces on the ground.

The official further stated that 1,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles and HIMARS ammunition would be included in the package. 

Carl Gustaf Recoilless Rifles

The Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle is a man-portable, multi-role weapon system that enables dismounted soldiers to deal efficiently with various modern combat situations. According to the manufacturer, the system is capable of evolving to meet the needs of future users and markets.

The Saab-manufactured Carl Gustaf includes an airburst capability with its High Explosive, or HE, round. The HE airburst round employs a mechanical time fuse that is activated before the weapon is loaded. Airburst rounds can be pre-programmed to explode in the air at a specific position, enhancing the weapon’s effect against hidden enemy targets.

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

The US armed forces are the prime user of this weapon system. The US Army originally ordered the system in response to a requirement for an anti-personnel, anti-light structure, direct fire, man-portable weapon in Afghanistan that could counter-insurgent rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fire.

The weapon has been employed by US Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Special Forces since the late 1980s. In September 2022, the United States awarded Saab a contract of $81.8 million for producing and delivering Carl Gustaf ammunition and AT4 anti-tank weapons.

India is also another major operator of this weapon system. Saab, the Swedish defense company, also announced on September 27 that it would develop a manufacturing facility in India to produce its Carl-Gustaf M4 weapon system.

The Indian Army has used the famed Carl-Gustaf since 1976. The Mk2 and Mk3 variants are currently in service with the Indian Army. 

Saab Carl Gustaf
Saab Carl Gustaf: Saab

Besides that, Saab has received orders for Carl Gustaf from other global armed forces. In August, Norway signed a long-term agreement with the Swedish firm to provide ammunition for the latest variant of Carl Gustaf.

The company also has a contract to deliver several Carl Gustaf M4 recoilless weapons and ammunition to Lithuania. The Lithuanian Defense Materiel Agency purchased $16.7 million worth of ammunition as part of the framework deal. 

In addition, the Carl Gustaf Framework Agreement is signed by Estonia and Latvia. The next-generation weapon will be used in classic force-on-force combat in urban settings and counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations.