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Saab Global

Carl-Gustaf – a reliable and continually evolving weapon

3 min read + Video

Trusted by Australian troops for decades, Saab’s Carl-Gustaf® recoilless rifle system is continually evolving to deliver new capabilities for changing, modern battlefields.

With troops increasingly required to deploy in urban settings and combat environments becoming more complex, a flexible and reliable ground support weapon is essential.

The Carl-Gustaf system’s latest variant, M4, is in service with the Australian Army. Globally, M4 and earlier variants are supporting armies in 40 nations.

Ensuring the system evolves to meet the changing needs of today’s armed forces while still providing the flexible and robust capability that soldiers have trusted since Carl-Gustaf’s inception in 1948.

The M4 system, weighing less than seven kilograms and measuring under one metre, features a standard clip-on telescopic sight on a picatinny rail, allowing users to install thermal sights or image intensifiers for operations in low light or night conditions. The system is also compatible with a rapidly growing range of third-party fire-control systems, which means that Australian users can easily upgrade to the latest sighting technology.

New capability allows troops to deal with current and future threats

The 2022 releases of the highly advanced HE 448 programmable round and FCD 558 fire-control device are the latest in a long line of technological advances that have increased the Carl-Gustaf system’s accuracy and effectiveness.

The high-explosive HE 448 round contains an interface that allows it to communicate directly with the FCD 558 fire-control device. This interface passes information on the temperature of its propellant – a key factor in flight time – to the ballistics computer in FCD 558, making slight adjustments that greatly improve accuracy.

This means that operators will be able to quickly configure a chambered round and increase their operational effectiveness.

This communication between the round and sight also allows ‘direct fire’ or ‘airburst’ mode to be selected via a toggle rather than manually on the side of the round. The HE 448 round has also been redesigned to be lighter, to fly further, and to be far more effective against armour, providing combat flexibility when and where it’s needed most.

Communication between the round and fire-control device is part of a Saab-developed protocol called Firebolt®, which has the potential to enhance the accuracy and usability of the full range of Carl-Gustaf ammunition natures. Because the fire-control device will be able to identify the round that a gunner places in the system and make appropriate ballistic adjustments, there will be no need to fit different range drums for different natures, as is the case with previous versions of the weapon.

While the HE 448 and FCD 558 produce optimal results when used together, each is compatible with current Carl-Gustaf systems.

Wide range of ammunition delivers combat flexibility

The range of ammunition available has also increased to at least 15 natures.

All Carl-Gustaf ammunition natures have a calibre of 84 mm, which means that each is compatible with every version of the weapon. The variety of ammunition natures gives armed forces the capability to achieve their mission faster, with pinpoint accuracy and adaptability, while keeping soldiers safe.

From anti-armour, anti-tank to anti-structure munition, troops can effectively destroy structures and vehicles with armour or neutralise infantry in the open.

Some ammunition natures have been designed for specific tasks on the battlefield, such as providing illumination to light tactical areas during night operations and smoke as an effective tool for blinding and screening targets.

Saab’s ongoing development of the Carl-Gustaf ensures that Australia’s armed forces are equipped to deal not only with today’s battlefield threats, but also with tomorrow’s.

Visit Saab Australia at Land Forces 2022 to hear more about our ground support weapons and other land capabilities: Stand 1M20, Hall 1, Brisbane Convention Centre, Queensland, Australia.

Soldier with Carl-Gustaf M4 and FCD 558 and thermal sight.

Did you know...

The Carl-Gustaf system has a long and distinguished history, which stretches back to 1948. Here are some interesting facts about the system you may not already know.

  • Every munition for Carl-Gustaf® has a calibre of 84mm, this means every munition is compatible with every version of the weapon
  • The name "Carl-Gustaf" originates from the factory where the first version of Carl-Gustaf® was manufactured
  • The weight of Carl-Gustaf® M4 is less than half the weight of the M2 version
Carl-Gustaf has been sold to more than 40 countries around the world.

Land Forces 2022

Saab Australia has extensive experience in providing proven products and services to the Australian Army across an immensely diverse range of capabilities, from ground weapons, guided weapons, force protection, training and simulation solutions, communication systems and deployable solutions.