Saab ready to produce Carl-Gustaf M4 rocket launcher in India

The Carl Gustaf 8.4 cm recoilless rifle is a Swedish developed 84 mm (3.3 in) caliber man-portable shoulder-fired recoilless rifle, initially developed by the Royal Swedish Army Materiel Administration during the second half of the 1940s as a close-range anti-tank and support weapon for infantry, which has seen great export success around the globe and is today a popular multi-purpose support weapon in use by many nations. The Carl Gustaf 84 mm recoilless rifle is a lightweight, low-cost weapon that uses a wide range of ammunition, which makes it extremely flexible and suitable for a wide variety of roles. The Carl Gustaf M4 was revealed by Saab at AUSA 2014. Compared to the M3 MAAWS, the M4 is 3.4 kg (7.5 lb) lighter, weighing 6.6 kg (15 lb), and shorter with a 950 mm (37 in) overall length. The shorter length was in response to the need to wield the weapon in urban terrain.

According to Ajai Shukla in Business Standard on 28th September, since 1976, Indian infantry platoons have been equipped with the 84 mm Carl-Gustaf M3 rocket launcher, designed by Saab and manufactured in India by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). But now Saab believes the obsolescent Carl-Gustaf M3 needs to be replaced by the new-generation M4 version. With the Indian Ministry of Defence promoting the “Make in India” policy, Saab has applied to set up a manufacturing facility in India to produce it.

The new Carl-Gustaf M4 version, which is carried and fired by a two-man crew, has a longer range of 1,500 metres, a new sighting system, and weighs just 7.5 kg – against the 11 kg of the M3 version. Production in the new facility is planned to start in 2024. However, neither the Indian MoD, nor the army, have shown interest yet in buying the new rocket launcher, Ajai Shukla reports. But Saab clearly believes that they will someday. Until then, India would be the manufacturing and supply hub from which Saab can supply the Carl-Gustaf M4 to many armies around the world.

“The new company Saab FFV India, currently under registration, will make the latest generation of the state-of-the-art [rocket launcher] in India. Saab will also be partnering with Indian sub-suppliers and the systems manufactured in the facility will fully meet the requirements of ‘Make in India’, Saab stated in a press release on September 27. The Swedish company has applied for a manufacturing licence for a 100 per cent Saab subsidiary. There is a 74-per cent cap on foreign ownership of defence firms, and 100 per cent foreign ownership is permitted only when there is going to be an inflow of high technology. Saab says it will cross that bar, with the latest technologies going into the 84 mm Carl-Gustaf M4, Ajai Shukla writes. “Saab FFV India will deploy complex technologies including the latest sighting technology and apply advanced manufacturing techniques like carbon fibre winding for the Carl-Gustaf system including the latest M4 weapon”, stated Saab.

Given that the Indian Army is one of the world’s biggest users of the M3 version of the Carl-Gustaf rocket launcher, and the M3 is manufactured in India, it is only natural for the Indian army to graduate to the “Made in India” Carl-Gustaf M4, said Görgen Johansson, a senior Saab executive, quoted by Ajai Shukla. Saab believes that its partnership with the OFB, and with the OFB’s new, corporatized versions – Munitions India Limited (MIL) and Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL) – which manufactured the Carl-Gustaf M3 and its ammunition, positions it nicely to switch to manufacturing the M4 version of the rocket launcher.

Indian companies have already been incorporated into a full-fledged supply chain for manufacturing the M3 version of the Carl-Gustaf in the OFB. Saab believes this supply chain can be transformed into one that will support the M4.

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