Task and Purpose, Jared Keller
Security, North America
Coming soon to a war near you?
The Army is planning on spending major cash to bolster its arsenal of 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifles in the coming years, nearly quadrupling requested funds to acquire hundreds of the upgraded M3E1s to deliver on its pledge to return the iconic bazooka to the front lines.
The service’s fiscal 2019 budget request contains a $ 23.3 million line item to equip the Army and Army National Guard with 300 M3A1 recoilless rifle systems, fire control mechanisms, and sub caliber adapters and spares. That’s a significant increase over the measly $ 6.5 million earmarked for the MAAWS in the branch’s fiscal 2018 budget request (and the zilch sought in previous years).
Although 300 launchers may seem paltry, next to the 1,111 M3E1 recoilless rifles that PEO Soldier approved for rapid procurement in September 2017, the new contracts with Swedish Carl Gustaf godfather Saab Dynamics AB would constitute nearly a third of the MAAWS program’s lifetime budget.
More importantly, the Army’s budget request also comes with an explicit approved acquisition objective (AAO) of 2,460 total boomsticks through fiscal 2023. The Army wasn’t kidding when the service first announced in 2016 that it was delighted to invest in some saucy bazooka action.
But why, you may ask? All kinds of reasons, according to the Army’s allowance request: “engaging, neutralizing and destroying lightly armored vehicles, soft-skinned vehicles, personnel in the open or defilade, and field fortifications in both open urban and rural operational environments … marking threat targets with smoke for supporting weapons, obscuring threat weapons and illuminating threat targets.”