LONDON — The British Army will buy Swedish Carl-Gustaf M4 recoilless rifles to plug a gap in anti-armor capabilities left by donating similar equipment to Ukraine.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced the deal, worth £4.6 million ($5.7 million) plus a little more for a package of ammunition and training, during a March 29 meeting here with his Swedish counterpart, Pal Jonson.
The ministry said in a statement the Saab-made weapons would be used to “replenish” munition stocks handed over to Ukraine in its defense against Russia.
No details of delivery times or weapon numbers have been made available by the British.
Earlier versions of the Carl-Gustaf were operated by the British military between the 1970s and 1990s before being withdrawn.
The British deal wasn’t the only success for the recoilless rifle announced by Saab this week.
The Swedish arms manufacturer said March 30 that it had also signed framework agreements with the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) for the Carl-Gustaf M4 and the AT4 anti-armor weapon.
The NSPA has placed a purchase order for Carl-Gustaf ammunition with deliveries planned 2023-2025 as well as a similar deal for AT4 missiles with deliveries planned 2023-2024.
The Carl-Gustaf order from Britain will help boost anti-structure capabilities left diminished by stockpiles of NLAW next generation light anti-tank missiles run down by the UK government’s donation of thousands of weapons to Ukraine.
The missile is credited by the Ukrainians with playing an important role in halting Russian armored attacks over the last 13 months.
Designed by Saab, Thales UK produces the NLAW weapon at a site just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The British have ordered 600 copies for delivery this year. While struggling to put together a supply chain for the out-of-production weapon, officials announced a further deal with Saab in December 2022, worth £229 million, to supply a large number of weapons starting next year, with deliveries finishing in 2026.
The Carl-Gustaf deal was part of wide-ranging talks by Wallace and Jonson, which included British support for Sweden’s stalled effort to join NATO.
The two sides also signed a letter of intent to deliver 14 BAE Systems Bofors-built Archer 155mm wheeled guns to replace British Army AS90 tracked artillery vehicles donated to Ukraine.
The Archer vehicles are meant as an interim measure until Britain acquires a new fleet of guns planned to be in operation by the end of the decade.
“Future potential collaboration” in support of Ukraine was also on the agenda of the two defense ministers, the British MoD said in its March 29 statement.
A spokesperson declined to elaborate on the nature of the possible tie-up, but it is thought the two sides are exploring how they can work together to meet urgent Ukrainian requirements for support.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.