The U.S. Army and the AT4: An Enduring Partnership, Never Taken for Granted
Since 1985, the AT4 anti-armor family of munitions has been a weapon of choice for the U.S. Army Infantry squad. From its initial introduction through today, the U.S. Army has played an integral part in developing the AT4 family. In the almost four decades since its inception, the AT4 has helped keep American troops safe during conflicts such as Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The AT4 was initially developed in Sweden, however, it was the United States that first adopted the weapon system, quickly becoming one of Saab’s most valued and enduring partnerships. Through the years, the evolving needs of the U.S. Army have informed many of the AT4 upgrades and variations. The weapon is designed to save the lives of American troops and allow them to better focus on the mission at hand.
In the early 1980s, the United States began searching for an alternative to the M72 LAW, an anti-tank weapon popular in the Vietnam War. In response to this search, an American variation of the AT4 was developed, the M136, which featured altered launch tube bumpers, sights and slings. After an in-depth review, the U.S. Army determined that the AT4 M136 was the best choice to replace the M72 LAW.
Following the development of the AT4 M136, the American variations significantly improved the weapon and those modifications were incorporated in the version later adopted by the Swedish Army.
Adapting the AT4 to Changing Combat Environments
Since the 1980s, Saab has collaborated with the U.S. Army to further develop the AT4 in response to changing combat environments. While the AT4 had many advantages as one of the most effective anti-armor weapons for the U.S. Army, there were some initial limitations for operations in urban environments due to the backblast.
In response to the need for an AT4 capable of operating in restricted areas, Saab introduced the AT4CS (confined space) variant. The AT4CS variants are specifically designed to meet the needs of soldiers operating in urban environments. For example, to limit potential backblast, the weapon uses a saltwater counter mass to absorb the backblast.
Today, Saab’s AT4CS family includes several variations with specific capabilities to provide maximum versatility and efficacy:
- AT4CS HP: Optimized to penetrate armored targets
- AT4CS RS: Developed to maximize behind-armor effects
- AT4CS ER: Provides extended range
- AT4CS AST: Designed to combat multiple target types and create new entry points in buildings
- AT4CS HE: Airburst mode allows soldiers to target troops behind cover
- AT4CS TW: The newest TW variation combines the force of a tandem warhead with the ability to fire in narrow positions and confined spaces. It is similar to AT4CS AST, but lighter and developed specifically to meet U.S. Army requirements
Throughout its history with the U.S. Army, the AT4CS has proven lifesaving to American troops. It allows soldiers to engage targets with efficacy, behind-the-wall effects, and multi-target capabilities without unnecessary exposure in the line of fire. U.S. Armed Forces know that the AT4 is an easy-to-use tool they can always rely on – especially in high-risk scenarios.
To date, the AT4CS TW is the only system operationally tested by U.S. Army Infantry soldiers, (10th Mountain division) with a demonstrated probability of hit of 91%.
Preparing for the Future
At Saab, innovation is a key part of our culture, and we always look forward.
To date, Saab has delivered over 700,000 AT4s to the U.S. military. Most recently, the U.S. Armed Forces placed an $81.8 million order for Saab’s Carl-Gustaf ammunition and AT4CS RS systems, with deliveries taking place through 2024. As part of this partnership and the growing demand for the AT4, Saab is dedicated to establishing domestic manufacturing in the U.S. and streamlining supply chain logistics through domestic manufacturers.
Saab is committed to ensuring that every step of the AT4 lifecycle, from factory production to firing range to the battlefield, minimizes risk and maximizes the probability of mission success. Through a combat-proven system and training structure, the AT4 system leverages decades of institutional knowledge and expertise to drive innovative updates that achieve all U.S. Army knowledge, skill, and ability requirements in evolving and complex combat environments.
For almost forty years, Saab has partnered with the U.S. Army to help keep people and society safe. This enduring partnership has already saved countless lives. As we look to the future, this is the standard we set for everything we do.