Ukrainians are firing shoulder-launched anti-armor rockets urgently delivered to Afghanistan 10 years ago called the Carl Gustaf.
The Multi-Role, Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel armament is a mobile direct-fire weapon for dismounted troops intended to destroy light enemy structures and vehicles, dismounted groups of enemy fighters, and other key targets such as small buildings.
Delivering on the Carl Gustaf
The Carl Gustaf was initially delivered in response to an Operational Needs Statement requesting a direct-fire weapon, states a post on the Army site from 2012.
The concept is to give dismounted units a mobile ability to target and destroy enemy vehicles or troop concentrations with high explosive rounds capable of both airburst and mechanical time fuses to tailor and maximize lethality as needed.
Often using a laser rangefinder, airburst rounds can be programmed to explode at a specific distance in close proximity to a specific identified target.
They can be particularly impactful when attacking an enemy fighter in defilade, meaning a protected position, unable to be targeted.
The weapon, which is manufactured by Saab, has also been used by U.S. Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and Special Forces for many years.
Carl Gustaf to Afghanistan
Several Carl Gustaf units were initially sent to Afghanistan years ago as part of a limited operational assessment.
The Army purchased the weapon by joining with U.S. Special Operations Command in a combined purchase from Saab.
The anti-armor, anti-personnel, shoulder-fired multi-role weapon is 42 inches long, weighs 21 pounds, and can fire up to four rounds per minute, Saab North America developers explained when the weapon was first released.
Saab weapons developers have said the unguided munition uses thermal sights at the correct range to pinpoint targets by RF or thermal signature.
Added to the high-explosive rounds are dual-purpose rounds, illumination rounds, flechette rounds, smoke rounds, and enhanced anti-armor rounds.
The anti-armor high explosive round can be fired by the Carl Gustaf, which can be set to detonate upon impact or explode on “delay” after penetrating the target.
The Carl Gustaf is also able to fire anti-tank, flechette, illumination, enhanced armor, smoke, and high explosive dual-purpose rounds, Army weapons developers explain.
With a two-man crew including a gunner and a loader, the Carl Gustaf can fire as many as six rounds a minute to inflict damage onto a target.
The weapon seems to be a useful complement to the Javelin anti-tank missile, which has been upgraded with new sights, targeting on-the-move technology, and range capacity.
Although the rounds fired by the Carl Gustaf are unguided, apart from line-of-sight targeting available through thermal sights, it certainly seems conceivable that newer kinds of target acquisition are likely to appear quickly.
Kris Osborn is the Military Affairs Editor of 19FortyFive and President of Warrior Maven – Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University