US Army testing improved lower cost super-bazooka

The U.S. Army is testing significant improvements to a shoulder-fired weapon used by Soldiers and Special Operations forces as part of a foreign technology program.

Upgrades to the M3 recoilless rifle, also known as the multi-role anti-armor anti-personnel weapon system, will make it more ergonomic, six pounds lighter and shorter.

The weapons system is incorporating modern materials to achieve input provided by U.S. Special Operations Command

The war in Afghanistan had a lot to do with the updated M3 (Swedish recoilless rifle called Carl Gustaf) seeing a revival in U.S. service. Militants harassed American troops from long ranges and from behind cover, making it hard to shoot back. A missile from an orbiting aircraft or a shoulder-fired Javelin launcher would reach far enough, at a cost of around $80,000 per missile.

A single M3E1 round costs — at most — around three percent ($2400) as much, and carries an effective range of 1,000 meters if it’s a rocket-boosted round.

When testing and qualifications are completed in spring 2017, upon type classification scheduled for fall 2017, the system will be available for procurement to all Department of Defense services. The M3E1 fires a high-explosive round to engage light-armored vehicles, bunkers and soft structures. The upgraded weapon is able to fire the existing suite of MAAWS ammunition.

Bober said the upgrades will also include a shot counter. For safety reasons, a weapon should not fire more than its specified limit of rounds.

“This will give Soldiers better use of the system,” she said. “Right now the Soldier is manually recording the number of rounds fired in a notebook provided with each weapon. [The shot counter] will make everything easier and provide traceability. The system will last longer when we know how many rounds go through each weapon.”

Under the current system, if a service member does not track each round fired, the M3 must be half-lifed because an accurate count cannot be guaranteed. For example, if a weapon is qualified for 1,000 rounds, a half-life would cut the remaining use to 500.

SOURCES- Army, War is Boring