Engaging the Enemy: A US Special Forces soldier fires a Carl Gustav after receiving small-arms fire in Zabul province, Afghanistan, on March 8. (Spc. Sara Wakai/US Army)
WASHINGTON — US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has signed a contract worth up to $187 million for the purchase of more Carl Gustav recoilless rifles and ammunition from Swedish defense firm Saab.
The five-year deal is a follow-on agreement to a previous five-year contract for the 84mm recoilless rifle system, and is worth $14.3 million, the company announced. But the contract can reach $187 million in the coming years if SOCOM orders more systems and ammunition.
American special operators and general purpose forces have been using the system extensively in Afghanistan over the past several years, and Saab has been doing about $20 million to $30 million in business with the Tampa, Florida-based commando command annually, the company has said.
While armies around the globe have been using the system for decades, traditionally only US special operators have been issued the man-portable, 21-pound system for use in combat. But that changed in November 2011 when commanders in Afghanistan issued a special request for the system to use in tight, close-quarters fights.
In response, the US Army and SOCOM together placed a $31.5 million order for more than 120 of the launchers along with 3,024 rounds of ammunition. It was the first time that general purpose US Army forces had fielded the system.
This latest contract follows on that order.
The request from the field was prompted by the need to hit back at Taliban and Haqqani rocket-propelled grenade and machine gun attacks that could engage US forces from up to 900 meters away.
The US Army’s M141 bunker defeat munition, M72 light anti-tank weapon, AT-4 and the shoulder-launched multipurpose assault weapon are effective only up to a range of about 500 meters. ■