The U.S. Army Soldiers in Afghanistan are now firing an 84mm, reusable, recoilless shoulder-fired conventional munition able to destroy enemy targets hidden behind rocks, trees and buildings , service officials said.
The weapon, called the Multi-Role Anti-Armor, Anti-Personnel Weapons System, known as the Carl-Gustaf, was ordered by the Army in response to an Operational Needs Statement from Afghanistan seeking to procure a direct fire, man-portable, anti-personnel and light structure weapon able, among other things, to respond to insurgent rocket-propelled grenade, or RPG, fire, said Bhuvanesh Thoguluva, chief of Vehicle Protection, Rockets & Shoulder Fired Weapons Branch, Munition Systems & Technical Directorate, Armament Research Development and Engineering Center, Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
The Carl-Gustaf, which is manufactured by Saab, includes an airburst capability with its High Explosive, or HE, round, Thoguluva said.
“The HE round does have an airburst capability. It is the one that is utilized most often because of its effective range. It uses a mechanical time fuse which is set prior to loading the weapon system,” he said.
Airburst rounds can be pre-programmed to explode in the air at a precise location, thereby maximizing the weapon’s effect against enemy targets hiding, for example, behind a rock, tree or building.
Several Carl Gustaf’s are already in Afghanistan as part of a limited operational assessment, which may indeed result in more deliveries. The Army purchased the weapon by joining with U.S. Special Operations Command in a combined purchase from Saab.
“Thus far, the weapon has been very effective,” said Thoguluva.
The weapon, now being evaluated by the Army, has been used by U.S. Army Rangers, Navy SEALs and Special Forces since the late-80s, Thoguluva said.
The anti-armor, anti-personnel, shoulder-fired multi-role weapon is 42-inches long weighs 21 pounds and can fire up to four rounds per minute, said Wes Walters, executive vice pesident for marketing, Saab North America.
“It is not a guided munition,” Walters explained, adding that the weapon can utilize thermal sight to provide Soldiers with the ability to shoot at night and reach the proper range.
The Carl Gustaf is also able to fire anti-tank, flechette, illumination, enhanced armor, smoke and High Explosive Dual Purpose rounds, Thoguluva explained.
“The High Explosive Dual Purpose round gives you two different capabilities. In impact mode, the round goes off immediately as soon as it hits the target. In delay mode, the round penetrates the target and then goes off,” he said.