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Australia orders Saab Carl-Gustaf M4

The Australian Army is buying the Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifle, the latest version of a weapon system in service with the Australian Defence Force since the Vietnam War.

Australian soldiers have used the Carl-Gustaf extensively in recent conflicts, including in Afghanistan.

The ADF hasn’t said how many it is buying but it is certainly several hundred. Deliveries are to start in 2020, likely to special forces and infantry.

Görgen Johansson, head of Saab business area Dynamics, said with the introduction of the M4 version, the Australian Army would have a weapon with the latest technology and improved ergonomics.

“The Carl-Gustaf has seen extensive operational service with the Australian Army and moving to the M4 weapon represents the continued modernisation of this important lethality system,” he said.

Australia will be the sixth customer for M4. Other users include the Swedish and US armies.

For soldiers who will carry the Carl-Gustaf into battle, the main difference between M4 and the earlier M3 is weight – 7kg against 11kg.

That’s achieved through the use of lighter composites and titanium. The M4 also features an inbuilt round counter rather than a logbook to determine safe barrel life. Barrel life is around 1,400 rounds or 10-15 years in service.

M4 can also be safely carried with a round loaded, allowing the weapon to be loaded under cover and then carried to the firing point. That wasn’t recommended for the M3 and earlier variants.

As well, integrated into the M4 is support for intelligent sights which can detect the type of round loaded and adjust the point of aim taking into account various factors such as barrel temperature.

The Carl-Gustaf can fire a diverse range of ammunition, including high explosive bunker busters and anti-armour rounds. Saab and Raytheon in the US are working on a new precision-guided round.

The M4 can fire all older ammunition natures.

Firing a Carl-Gustaf has always featured a substantial and dangerous back blast. A new confined space round allows firing safely inside a three-metre by three-metre room.