Just over a year after announcing a handful of major of upgrades to its arsenal of shoulder-fired M3 Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, the legendary weapon is getting yet another lethal booster shot in the form of some deadly precision-guided munitions.
Reporting from the annual Associated of the United States Army military-industrial kegger in Washington, D.C., Army Times offered up a glimpse of brand-new laser-guided munitions engineered by Raytheon for the 84mm M3 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon System (MMAAWS).
The laser-guided Gustaf munition offers “a multi-target warhead capable of defeating bunkers, concrete, light skinned vehicles and armored personnel carriers and has a range of nearly 2,000 meters,” Marine Corps Times reports, noting that the precision round provides flexibility for service members to fire from enclosures without fear of back blast.
The new round is just the latest upgrade to the iconic system. The M3A1 variant developed by Swedish Carl Gustaf godfather Saab Dynamics AB offers a titanium shell designed to reduce system weight and length.
The M3A1 variant also offers the capability to fire off multiple salvos of specialized rounds — like, say, Raytheon’s laser-guided munition — in a departure from the one-and-done weapons like the AT-4 anti-tank system.
The new round comes as the Army is making good on its pledge to make the Gustaf a fixture of every infantry squad. The service tripled its annual budget request for the recoilless rifles over last fiscal year, complete with an explicitly approved acquisition objective (AAO) of 2,460 total through fiscal 2023.
The Army has increasingly pivoted to two theaters that seem well suited for the M3E1: Eastern Europe, where service members are increasingly fielding the Gustaf (and low-cost AT-4 the M3E1 is partially designed to replace) to deter Russian aggression; and the Global War on Terror in Afghanistan, where the system has spanked militants sporadically since at least 2012.
While the Army and Marine Corps are currently eyeing the Carl Gustaf for extra firepower among infantry squads — the latter for the first time in its history — a Raytheon representative told Army Times that only U.S. Special Operations Command has an open requirement for a precision-guided Carl Gustaf round at this time.
Something tells me that they won’t be the only ones for long.