The Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) Logistics Command has placed an order with Saab for more Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs), the Finnish Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Saab announced on 23 February 2023
The procurement is being conducted via an existing framework agreement between Saab and the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). The agreement also allows other countries to join it, which Finland did in May 2022.
Finland has operated the NLAW system since 2009, with this latest order being used to bolster the FDF’s anti-armour capabilities and, presumably, allow weapons to be expended in training.
Neither Saab or the Finnish MoD revealed the number of NLAWs ordered, but the total value of the procurement is given as approximately SEK 400 M (EUR 37 M).
The NLAW is shoulder fired from a disposable launcher and uses so-called ‘predicted line-of-sight’ (PLOS) guidance. With PLOS the user tracks the target for a few seconds, during which the missile uses internal sensors and software to estimate the target’s movement and calculate the predicted impact point. After firing the guidance system then steers the missile towards this point. The advantage of PLOS guidance is that it allows a fire-and-forget engagement; the user does not need to continue to track the target to guide the missile. Also, there are no laser, radar or other emissions to potentially expose the position of the firer.
The NLAW missile is fitted with a downward-facing shaped-charge warhead. In top-attack mode, used against heavily armoured targets, the missile follows a trajectory approximately 1 m above the target, with the warhead detonated by a proximity sensor to penetrate the thinner top armour of the target. For other target types, such as lightly armoured vehicles or field fortifications, a direct attack mode using point detonation is used.
Featuring a soft-launch system that uses a salt-water countermass to absorb the backblast on firing, the NLAW can be fired from confined spaces.
The total weight of the NLAW system is 12.5 kg, of which 6.5 kg is the missile, while its effective range is 20-600 m.
Thomas Lauge Nielsen
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