The battlefield of tomorrow
The final lessons from the Ukraine war have yet to be learned, but the first trends are already apparent that will significantly affect future armament decisions. The current conflict once again confirms the importance of logistics, it provides deep insights into the condition of Russian troops and it shows the enormous importance of well-equipped infantry troops – especially the longer the war lasts.
New theatres will determine infantry combat in 2040: in addition to land, sea and air, nations are increasingly exposed to threats from cyberspace and outer space. This multi-domain battlefield poses major challenges for militaries when it comes to protecting their troops and population as well as national security. In order to ensure the security of people and societies in the future, technological and intellectual boundaries must be overcome. Experts at Saab therefore constantly analyse past and present military events and link them to global trends to draw lessons for the future. Their forecasts have been at the heart of development work for decades and make a significant contribution to ensuring that troops all over the world are already equipped today for the attacks of tomorrow.
Training and equipment of armed forces must be improved in consideration of numerous possibilities of artificial intelligence, robotics and network-oriented systems, because the experts agree: traditional infantry fighting remains decisive for war. “There will always be a war on the ground. Even if precision operations over long distances using drones are already available and will continue to increase, soldiers are still needed to capture and/or defend an area”, says Anders Wahlström, infantry expert at the Swedish defence company Saab. “With versatile weapon systems such as the Carl-Gustaf, NLAW and the AT4 family, we give militaries worldwide the decisive edge. Modular systems ensure that Saab’s products are effective and reliable in 2040 and beyond.”
The man-portable, multi-purpose weapon system provides soldiers in all environments with high tactical flexibility and the effectiveness they need to take out the enemy before they can react.The latest evolution, the M4, offers even greater speed and manoeuvrability. Compatibility with an advanced fire control system and programmable 84 mm ammunition ensures that troops can rely on their equipment.
- Weight: approx. 7 kg | Length: < 1 m
- Sights: open sights, red dot sights, telescopic sight or advanced fire control system
- Ammunition: anti-tank, anti-structure, anti-personnel, support
The Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon eliminates even the most advanced tanks. It is the best in its class for forces operating in all environments, including built-up areas. With selectable Overfly Top Attack (OTA) against armoured targets and Direct Attack (DA) for non-armoured opponents and troops inside buildings, NLAW fires perfectly in confined spaces.
The AT4 is one of Saab’s most successful anti-armour weapons. Lightweight, portable and fully disposable, these weapons are optimised for any mission.
An increasing number of people around the world live in cities. The effects of the climate crisis, famine, terrorism or flight from oppression are leading to new migration flows. All this leads to the fact that theatres of war are shifting into urban environments. When cities become battlefields, soldiers need weapons that can cope with these new demands. Many of the new capabilities of Saab’s NLAW, AT4 and the Carl-Gustaf are therefore designed for the urban environment. For example, short combat distances, complex terrain, the need to fire from inside buildings and the need to engage targets inside buildings were key considerations in the development.
At the same time, existing capabilities need to be modernised and improved to remain competitive: greater accuracy, high marksmanship and speed, increasing effectiveness while keeping transport weight low and flexibility are just some of the capabilities to enable troops to gain that decisive advantage. However, the increasing complexity due to technology must not make the operation of the weapon more difficult.
HE 448 – the new ammunition for Carl-Gustaf Saab’s recoilless anti-tank rifle Carl-Gustaf combines highly complex demands with the greatest possible tactical flexibility. It reduces the amount of equipment to be carried and, at just under 7 kilograms, is a lightweight in its class. With the new Carl-Gustaf M4, soldiers have a reliable weapon to neutralise tanks as well as covered troops, remove obstacles and engage enemies in buildings. The additional compatibility with programmable ammunition (HE 448) enables an even faster response. An interface in the projectile also forms the basis for communication with the new fire control device (FCD 558). The HE 448 round provides the FCD 558 with accurate information on ammunition type as well as propellant temperature and combines this data with the target distance entered by the operator to determine the best trajectory. This results in fast preparation, high precision and increases operational effectiveness. The M4 also achieves new top results in range and fragmentation distribution. With Carl-Gustaf, soldiers enjoy complete confidence in their equipment.
Train as you fight
The skills of the soldiers and their weapons will remain essential for war. The more complex the threats become, the greater the importance of education and training. While live training with ODT (Outdoor Training) simulators as well as live firing with real weapons will continue to be key components in soldier training, virtual training also opens up a multitude of new possibilities: on the one hand, in terms of basic training, if virtual training will replace live firing exercises on a large scale (also for environmental, cost and time reasons); on the other hand, at the tactical level, if it is about realistic, virtual, indoor training. “We see a great need in the future for the ability to use realistic simulations of the different weapons that replicate actual behaviour in terms of ballistic performance as well as handling”, explains Anders Wahlström.
For years, Saab has been investing not only in the development of its weapons, but also and above all in the training it offers. In addition, the company cooperates with leading universities and research institutes – the exchange with customers and experts from a wide range of disciplines is a key success factor for the defence company. Anders Wahlström: “Looking into the future is enormously important, especially for us as a service provider. We always have to think one step ahead in order to give our customers the decisive advantage on the battlefield. However, forecasts are only as good as the basis on which they are made. That’s why we set the highest standards for analyses of current events in order to be able to react quickly and act flexibly.” No one can say for sure what the year 2040 will actually bring. What experts at Saab are convinced of, however, is that there will not be a decoupling of the battlefield and the soldier. Infantry is still the future.