The U.S. Army has approved a requirement for 1,111 M3E1 Multi-Role Anti-Armor Anti-Personnel Weapon Systems.
The M3E1 is the latest version of the 84mm Carl Gustaf recoilless rifle that special operations forces have been using since the early 1990s. It’s lighter, shorter and more ergonomically designed.
The M3E1 is part of the Product Manager Crew Served Weapons portfolio, which is processing a contract to procure 1,111 M3E1s and an Urgent Material Release to field them as soon as possible, according to a recent Army press release.
The service announced in May of 2016 that it planned to permanently assign the devastating anti-armor weapon to infantry platoons.
Army light infantry units began using the M3 in Afghanistan in 2011 when the AT4 proved ineffective. The breech-loading weapon, made by Saab North America, can reach out and hit enemy targets up to 1,000 meters away. The M3 offers the units various types of ammunition, ranging from armor penetration and anti-personnel, to ammunition for built-up areas, as well as special features like smoke and illumination.
"The current system that the Army uses is the AT4, which only allows soldiers to fire one shot, and then they have to throw the system away. With the M3E1, soldiers can use different types of ammunition which gives them an increased capability on the battlefield," said Randy Everett, Foreign Comparative Testing, or FCT, project manager.
The Army’s FCT program office provides an avenue for Army engineers, scientists and program managers to test and evaluate items and technologies from allies and other friendly nations that may fill an Army capability gap.
The M3E1 launcher weighs approximately 22 pounds, with each round of ammunition weighing just under 10 pounds. By comparison, the AT4 weighs about 15 pounds and the Javelin's launcher with missile and reusable command launch unit weigh roughly 50 pounds.
Despite its effectiveness, soldiers asked if the M3 could be lighter and less bulky. By using titanium, the updated M3E1 is more than six pounds lighter. The M3E1 is also 2.5 inches shorter and has an improved carrying handle, extra shoulder padding and an improved sighting system that can be adjusted for better comfort without sacrificing performance.
A wiring harness has been included in the M3E1 configuration that provides a foregrip controller and programmable fuze setter for an interchangeable fire control system. For added safety and cost savings, an automatic round counter enables soldiers and logisticians to accurately track the service life of each weapon.
The M3E1 uses the same family of ammunition as the M3, which has already been successfully tested.