The Army is getting new programmable rounds for its arsenal of 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles, according to the ammunition’s manufacturer. 

In a Tuesday press release, Swedish defense contractor Saab announced it had received an order for its HE 448 high explosive round totaling about $10 million from the U.S. Army, with deliveries slated for 2024. 

Designated the HE 441E Programma­ble Round, the new round allows troops to program the chambered weapon’s fuze for both airburst and impact effects “with consequently reduced workload on the operator, more rapid and accurate fire, and higher efficiency in combat,” as Janes reported in January 2022. 

The HE 441E “will be programmed when loaded into the new lightweight M3A1 MAAWS equipped with the Fire Control System 13 – Rate Estimator (FCS13-RE),” according to the Army’s fiscal year 2024 budget request. “This is expected to result in a significant increase in accuracy, airburst timing, and lethality against personnel in defilade.”

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According to Saab, the newest round “provides the Carl-Gustaf operator with a capa­bility to rapidly engage and defeat enemies using cover to an effective range of 1,500 meters,” far beyond the range of most of the company’s existing offerings.

“We are pleased that the U.S. Army continues to invest in the Carl-Gustaf sys­tem and that they are placing an order for the new programmable round,” said Saab US president and CEO Erik Smith in a statement. “The U.S. Army is quickly strengthening its capability with Carl-Gustaf and the new high explosive round will enable faster engagement and increased hit probability.”

army carl gustaf recoilless rifle ammunition programmable rounds
A U.S. Army soldier with an M3E1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon, commonly called a Carl Gustaf, in an undated photo. (U.S. Army photo)

The addition of the new programmable round can only enhance the lethality of the Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle, which has been in the Army’s arsenal since the 1990s and has undergone countless upgrades while fielded to soldiers, Marines, and special operations forces since then. 

Indeed, the Army signed an $87 million multi-year contract with Saab in 2020 to furnish soldiers with the new and improved M3E1 variant of the 84mm Carl Gustaf over the next several years. 

While the Army plans on procuring a total of 2,460 M3E1 Carl Gustaf weapons, the service’s fiscal year 2024 budget request did not contain a funding line for the systems after three years and 1,161 systems procured, according to budget documents. 

It’s also worth noting that the service’s fiscal year 2024 budget request also declined to include funding for the HE 441E, with the $10 million contract announced by Saab on Monday coming from the service’s fiscal year 2023 budget.

While it’s unclear why the service skipped a year of funding the M3E1 Carl Gustaf and HE 441E, one thing is clear: some lucky soldiers will get their hands on some of the advanced rounds sooner rather than later. 

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