Carl Gustaf’ weapon extends Soldiers’ lethal reach

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — With the need for Sol­diers in Afghanistan to engage the ene­my at longer dis­tances, Picatin­ny Arse­nal has com­plet­ed an ini­tial train­ing and field­ing of a weapon for tra­di­tion­al Army units pre­vi­ous­ly used only by spe­cial oper­a­tions com­mands.

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M3 Carl Gus­tav test­ing
A civil­ian instruc­tor coach­es two para­troop­ers with the 82nd Air­borne Division’s 1st Brigade Com­bat Team on how to use a Carl Gus­tav 84mm recoil­less rifle dur­ing a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion class Dec. 6, 2011, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
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M3 — The Carl Gustaf get its name from the Swedish weapons pro­duc­tion fac­to­ry known as Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärs­fak­tori (“Rifle Fac­to­ry of Carl Gustaf’s town”). The name Carl Gustaf’s town was a name used inter­mit­tent­ly for the town Eskil­stu­na after King Karl X Gus­tav gave the town city priv­i­leges. The weapon was first intro­duced into Swedish ser­vice in 1948.
U.S. Army pho­to
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The Mul­ti-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Per­son­nel Weapon Sys­tem, or MAAWS, also known as the M3 Carl Gustaf, has been in the Unit­ed States Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand inven­to­ry since 1991.

How­ev­er, the unique capa­bil­i­ties of both the sys­tem and its ammo led to a for­ward oper­a­tional assess­ment, known as a FOA.

The MAAWS has sim­i­lar­i­ties to the AT4 shoul­der-fired, anti-tank sys­tem. But the MAAWS is unique in that the sys­tem itself is not dis­pos­able, which means it can be used more than once.

“It oper­ates just like a rifle,” said Bhu­vanesh Thogu­lu­va, chief of the Vehi­cle Pro­tec­tion, Rock­ets & Shoul­der Fired Weapons Branch of the Muni­tions Sys­tems and Tech­ni­cal Direc­torate. The direc­torate is part of the Arma­ment Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter at Picatin­ny.

“After fir­ing, the assis­tant gun­ner reloads it, and it can be fired again,” Thogu­lu­va explained. On a dis­pos­able weapon you will find a max­i­mum effec­tive range of approx­i­mate­ly 300 meters, where­as with the Gustaf you are talk­ing about pos­si­bly up to 1,700 meters. That’s a huge dif­fer­ence.”

An oper­a­tional need for the MAAWS sys­tem occurred in May, when troops report­ed that they were hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time in reach­ing the ene­my at those dis­tances.

The pur­pose of the MAAWS is to engage light­ly armored tar­gets at ranges up to 700 meters and soft tar­gets at up to 1,000 meters.

Pre­vi­ous­ly used only by spe­cial oper­a­tions com­mands, begin­ning with the Army Rangers in 1989, the Navy SEALS in 1997, and lat­er the rest of the U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Forces, the need for the sys­tem has become more appar­ent among tra­di­tion­al Army units.

“This field­ing real­ly could not have been done with­out the help from SOCOM (Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand),” Thogu­lu­va said.

The Unit­ed States Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand allowed the trans­fer of these sys­tems and its ammo to the Army for this field­ing.

The quan­ti­ties for this ini­tial field­ing were 58 Carl Gustaf Rifles and 1,500 Rounds of High Explo­sive and High Explo­sive Dual Pur­pose Ammu­ni­tion. Also, 114 Sol­diers and 21 armor­er main­tain­ers were trained in its use.

Although, there are eight vari­eties of com­bat rounds and two train­ing rounds for the sys­tem, the High Explo­sive and High Explo­sive Dual Pur­pose Rounds are the only two includ­ed in the assess­ment.

The oth­er rounds can pro­vide users with heat, illu­mi­na­tion, anti-struc­ture, mul­ti-tar­get and smoke capa­bil­i­ties. As the need for addi­tion­al capa­bil­i­ties increas­es with the Army users, oth­er rounds could be field­ed to the Army troops in the future.

The gun is breech-loaded and can be fired from the stand­ing, kneel­ing, sit­ting or prone posi­tions. A built-in detach­able bi-pod helps the shoot­er raise the weapon off the ground while shoot­ing from the prone posi­tion.

The pro­pel­lant gas escapes through the rear of the weapon, which equal­izes the force of recoil. In the AT4-CS type sys­tem, a salt-water solu­tion is eject­ed rather than exhaust, which is one rea­son why the AT4-CS does not have the range of the MAAWS.

“Remark­ably, there is actu­al­ly more recoil from fir­ing a 7.62mm round than this 84mm round,” Thogu­lu­va said.

“It’s a bal­anc­ing act,” he added. “When shoot­ing a 7.62 there is no exhaust gas, so the shooter’s shoul­der takes the major­i­ty of the recoil.” This bal­anc­ing act puts less stress on the shoot­er.

The cur­rent MAAWS sys­tem weighs approx­i­mate­ly 22 pounds with each round of ammu­ni­tion weigh­ing less than 10 pounds. Mate­r­i­al devel­op­ers are work­ing to light­en the load of the rifle by five to six pounds.

The user can usu­al­ly load and fire four rounds with­in one minute.

The blast radius stem­ming from a High Explo­sive round is any­where from 50 to 75 meters. The user sets the fir­ing dis­tance on the MAAWS by sim­ply rotat­ing a labeled meter at the top of the round.

The High Explo­sive Dual Pur­pose round can det­o­nate in two ways: upon impact of the intend­ed tar­get, or in a delay mode where it will pen­e­trate a tar­get, then det­o­nate at a pre-deter­mined time.

Since field­ing the sys­tem, feed­back from the field has been very pos­i­tive.

“It’s safe to say it’s doing its job. I can’t real­ly tell you much more than that,” Thogu­lu­va said.

The cur­rent field­ing is being used by Sol­diers in the 3rd and 25th Infantry Divi­sions, as well as the 10th Moun­tain Divi­sion. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Army Test and Eval­u­a­tion Cen­ter FOA Team con­duct­ed assess­ments of the train­ing event. The FOA will assess ini­tial com­bat usage after 30 days.

Addi­tion­al­ly, Sol­diers with the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion are train­ing on the sys­tem at Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Carl Gustaf get its name from the Swedish weapons pro­duc­tion fac­to­ry known as Carl Gustafs Stads Gevärs­fak­tori (“Rifle Fac­to­ry of Carl Gustaf’s town”). The name Carl Gustaf’s town was a name used inter­mit­tent­ly for the town Eskil­stu­na after King Karl X Gus­tav gave the town city priv­i­leges. The weapon was first intro­duced into Swedish ser­vice in 1948.

Source:
U.S. Army