The Marine Corps Is Now Eyeing The Army’s Souped-Up New Carl Gustaf Bazooka

Gear
U.S. Marines observe a demonstration of the Carl Gustav rocket system during live fire training at Range 7 aboard Camp Hansen, Oct. 25, 2017. The Carl Gustav rocket system is being introduced to the Marine Corps to eventually replace the MK153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapon (SMAW). The Marines are with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The Hawaii-based battalion is forward deployed to Okinawa, Japan as part of the Unit Deployment Program.
Photo via DoD

In early September, the Army doled out 1,111 upgraded 84mm M3 Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles to its soldiers and operators. Now, the Marine Corps is looking to get in on the bazooka goodness.


Marine officials are “weighing the possibility” of acquiring the new M3E1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapons System (MAAWS) as a lightweight substitute for the existing MK153 Shoulder-Launched Multipurpose Assault Weapons (SMAW), traditionally reserved for bunker-busting. The move, first reported on Nov. 7 by Military.com, could put the legendary Carl Gustaf bazooka weapons system in Marine Corps hands for the first time.

“Right now, we have a registered capability gap for multiple-effects rocket fire," Chris Woodburn, deputy for the Marine Corps Capabilities Development Directorate’s Maneuver Branch, told Military.com. "So the Army and SOCOM have the MAAWS, and we are looking to get the resourcing we need to pursue the next iteration of MAAWS."

After a year of testing by the Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, the Corps is now working with the Army to purchase its own arsenal of 1,200 Carl Gustafs from Swedish manufacturer Saab, MAAWS product director Kevin Finch told Military.com. Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed unit, tested new Carl M3E1 weapons systems on Oct. 25 at the Camp Hansen training area near Okinawa, Japan.

The M3E1 is certainly less cumbersome than its higher-powered predecessors; its reengineered titanium shell is a full 6 pounds lighter, but still laden with bells and whistles like a specialized automatic round-counter and an onboard ballistics computer. But the flexibility of multiple-effects rockets — set for airburst or proximity detonation though a customizable fire-control and fuze-setting system — is a major selling point for Pentagon planners. It helps that the M3E1 can outfire both the Corps’ current SMAWs and the PKM machine gun favored by insurgents downrange.

“The current system that the Army uses is the AT4, which only allows Soldiers to fire one shot, and then they have to throw the system away,” Randy Everett, Army project manager for the foreign technology program, said in a statement in September. “With the M3E1, Soldiers can use different types of ammunition which gives them an increased capability on the battlefield.”

Related: The Army’s Souped-Up New M3 Recoilless Rifle Is Headed Downrange Sooner Than You Think »

It remains to be seen when the explosive new Carl Gustaf will actually tear up modern battlefields. Saab North America marketing director Jack Seymour told Marine Corps Times in October that the M3E1 still faces “roughly six more months of assessment” after its current testing and evaluation period. But while the Army is slated to field the M31E by 2023, Finch told Military.com that the Marine Corps could “jump on board” the contract as early as 2019.

That may seem like a long time from now, according to DoD product monkeys. But the firepower may be worth it. The best distillation of the awesome power of Carl Gustaf in the hands of a Marine comes from Chief Warrant Officer 5 Christian Wade, the gunner for 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune and beloved firearm junkie. "The most important thing you could say to a Marine about the Carl Gustaf and SMAW is that, by putting a Carl Gustaf in his hand, he could have devastating effects on the enemy,” Wade told Military.com. " [And] there's so many Carl Gustaf rounds that we haven't tested."

WATCH NEXT:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

Read More Show Less

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

Read More Show Less

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

Read More Show Less

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.

Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.

Read More Show Less