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The British Army is to return to being an operator of the Carl-Gustaf 84 mm recoilless rifle, with manufacturer Saab announcing on 29 March 2023 that it had received an order from the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) for Carl-Gustaf M4 weapons, sights, ammunition and training.

The UK is already a user of Saab’s disposable (single-use) Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW), which UK funding contributed to developing and which UK forces received from 2009 to replace the LAW 80 anti-armour weapon.

However, the British Army has not used Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifles since its M2 variants, procured in the late 1960s, were replaced by the LAW 80 in the early 1990s.

With 16 different types of ammunition, the Carl-Gustaf M4 is a truly multi-role manportable weapon that allows dismounted troops to address a range of different targets, including armour, structures and personnel. Depending on the nature of ammunition used, armour targets can be addressed to a range of up to 700 m, while protected and unprotected enemy troops and soft-skinned vehicles can be targeted at up to 1,500 m. The M4 can also fire smoke, illumination and training rounds.

The new Carl-Gustaf M4 is a man-portable multi-role weapon system that provides high tactical flexibility through its wide range of ammunition types

The contract value for this UK Carl-Gustaf M4 order, which was placed in early 2023, is nearly GBP 5 M (EUR 5.69 M), but the number of units procured has not been released. However, it is understood the UK order includes high-explosive dual-purpose ammunition as well as training ammunition.

“Our strong relationship with the British Army is built upon delivering proven capabilities that help them to meet the threats they face and the Carl-Gustaf M4, like NLAW, is in prime position to do this,” Dean Rosenfield, Group Managing Director for Saab UK, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “This weapon system will undoubtedly play a key role in infantry operations for the British customer, as it does for many countries around the world,” he added.

Major General James Bowder, the British Army’s Director of Futures, was quoted in the same release as saying, “The procurement of Carl-Gustaf M4 will provide a versatile, potent, and proven capability to our close combat forces; it will defeat a range of threats on the modern battlefield, further enhancing our lethality.”

Peter Felstead