Infantry Weapons

Saab reveals confined spaces capability for Carl Gustaf

23 December 2013
The M3 84 mm Multi-Role weapon system shown in firing-mode. Source: Saab

Saab Dynamics has delivered its first high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) round that can be fired by the 84 mm Carl Gustaf recoilless weapon from within small enclosures, according to a mid-December company statement.

The new projectile - known as the HEAT 655 CS (for Confined Spaces) - was developed to the undisclosed customer's requirements.

IHS Jane's understands that the round uses the counter-mass principle to enable its new role. This uses a combination of propellant gases and counter-mass vented rearwards on firing to counter-balance the weight of the projectile as it travels forward through the barrel, the recoilless system of operation is maintained and there is no significant back-blast.

According to Saab, the overall performance of the warhead has not been sacrificed to obtain the necessary requirement for firing from an enclosed space. The complete round weighs 4.8 kg and the HEAT warhead has been optimised to provide a 'significant' degree of penetration of armour plate, yet still retain an enhanced behind-armour effect.

It has a muzzle velocity of 205 m/s and an effective range out to 300 m. According to company data, it can penetrate >500 mm of steel armour with an arming distance for the warhead of 9-20 m.

The Saab HEAT 655 CS 84 mm round being fired from an enclosed structure. (Saab)The Saab HEAT 655 CS 84 mm round being fired from an enclosed structure. (Saab)

Several missile systems over the past decade have been developed to provide a firing capability within an enclosed space, but this is believed to be the first time that a 'confined space' round has been successfully developed for a re-loadable recoilless gun. Those missiles have also tended to be single-shot pre-loaded disposable systems, because the launch tubes together with sighting system and firing-mechanism are discarded after firing. By contrast, the Carl Gustaf option enables the user to select the most appropriate round for a given task and take the optics and control elements with them when they move on.

The Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless gun first entered Swedish service in 1948 as the 8.4 cm Granatgevär m/48 and rapidly found favour on the export market. However, by the early 1990s many armies were beginning to phase out their inventories of Carl Gustaf in favour of single-shot disposable launchers. Additional types of ammunition continued to be developed along four lines, which can be divided into anti-armour; anti-structure, non-armoured/general purpose and battlefield support. These proved successful on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the weapons have had a resurgence of interest over the last decade.

A company spokesman told IHS Jane's that in developing the HEAT 655 CS round a major design challenge beyond the confined spaces requirement was to develop a round that was fully backwards compatible, able to be fired from all existing Carl Gustaf variants from the M1 to the M3.

(443 words)
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