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DARPA developing long range precision guided Munitions for defeating threats in Urban Warfare

Cities have become the new battleground and Hybrid or Urban Warfare the greatest threat being waged by ISIS to Boko Haram to Hamas to Ukraine rebels. Fight against Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria is being waged as Urban warfare. Boko Haram is carrying out its urban terror campaign against the Nigerian Army and its allies. IDF’s ground forces is preparing to deal with an enemy that moves on foot, appears and vanishes quickly, is armed with deadly shoulder-held missiles and operates in an urban setting, filled with noncombatants. Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris also provide glimpses of this new kind of conflict that will be more frequent and more complicated.


The terrorists and other groups  resort to Asymmetric Warfare that tries to counter technological superiority by exploiting the limitations and vulnerabilities of high-tech weapon and platforms, with relatively simple, low-cost countermeasures, tactics and solutions like dispersion and concealment tactics.


New air, ground and sea based platforms are desired having capabilities of accurately engaging targets in urban terrain with low collateral damage. The size of projectiles and weapons need to be miniaturized so that they can be employed in helicopters and small UAVs, while enhancing their lethality and engagement ranges to defeat even  concealed targets.


Information technology advances are enabling, new generation of guided munitions that allow extremely precise position location and navigation capability as well as miniaturization of the fuses, sensors and guidance systems, while reducing their costs. Artillery projectiles and tactical rockets are being miniaturized, with precision guidance along with long range and accuracy.


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has appointed Saab for its massive overmatch assault round (MOAR) study. The contract requires the company to conduct research on the development of a precision-engagement capability for shoulder-fired weapons.MOAR seeks to leverage commercial technologies to provide a low-cost, multi-use, and multi-function precision engagement capability.


“This research is crucial to improving the power of small military units,” said Görgen Johansson, Head of Saab’s Dynamics business area. “Today’s short-range weapons lack active guidance, while long-range weapons are extremely expensive, physically burdensome, and often require teams of operators that smaller units do not have.

Massive Overmatch Assault Round (MOAR) Study

MOAR seeks to leverage commercial technologies to provide a low-cost, multi-use, and multi-function precision engagement capability. Current short-range weapons are used against a variety of target sets using different munitions and launchers without the benefit of active guidance. While current long-range weapons in support of dismounted operations are highly effective against a specific target set at range, but come with a heavy physical burden, high cost per shot/procurement cost, and often require teams of operators (sometimes dedicated) for employment. The desired MOAR capability could significantly increase the combat power of small units, while significantly reducing cost relative to near-peer and peer adversaries.


The MOAR study focuses on two principal areas of research: i) multi-use rounds “capable of defeating a wide range of threats – dismounted personnel, hardened structures, moving vehicles, armour, and unmanned aerial systems – with traditional and non-traditional defeat mechanisms”; and ii) multi-function rounds, which should be “capable of being fired as a shoulder-launched or vehicle-mounted weapon; capable of first-party targeting or receiving targeting information from a networked third party source”


The MOAR study is part of DARPA’s Office-Wide Broad Agency Announcement entitled “Innovative Systems for Military Missions.”


Saab Awarded Research Contract From DARPA

The research, to be conducted by Saab’s Dynamics business area, will focus on the development of a precision-engagement capability for shoulder-fired weapons. Saab will analyze possible concepts and propose solutions, or highlight areas where future investigations are needed. Saab is investigating a possible solution: a precision-guided munition for shoulder-fired weapons that provides a long-range, high-precision, multi-target capability.”


A few years ago the Swedish company Saab introduced a new modification of the grenade launcher Carl Gustaf. By using new materials and specific processing structure, able to reduce the size and weight of the weapons while maintaining military qualities.


Saab will conduct studies on its own Carl-Gustaf and AT4 shoulder-fired weapons, both of which are current U.S. Army Programs of Record in service with the U.S. Army. “Analyzing already-established platforms allows the research to remain focused on the munition itself,” said Johansson. “Rather than developing a completely new solution, we are seeking to apply improved capabilities to existing systems – and that would translate to lower costs and faster availability.”



Charlie-G’ loses weight and gets smarter and more suitable for urban warfare

Saab has introduced a new model (M4) of its Carl-Gustaf 84mm recoilless-rifle weapon (M3) with many features  including weight-saving  so that it becomes more useful in urban warfare. Designed to be lighter weight and more infantry-portable than a Javelin anti-tank missile, the Carl Gustaf grenade launcher is built to help maneuvering ground units attack  targets out to as far as 1,300 meters. Depending on the type of weapon and target parameters, range can reach 500-1000 m. tandem shaped-charge warhead provides penetration 500 mm of armor behind era.


The Carl- Gustaf M4 weighs less than 7kg (15lb), compared with 10kg (22lb) for the preceding model, thanks to its titanium barrel and composites tube. It is somewhat shorter, too, at less than 1m, making it more agile and more suited to urban warfare, and it is provided with more adjustment in the grips and shoulder rest. “We use a steel that is half the weight and half the density. For the barrel, we have improved the lining pattern and added a more efficient carbon fiber wrapping,” Malcolm Arvidsson, Product Director, Carl-Gustaf M4, said.


There is a new transport safety feature, which allows it to be carried with a round loaded, significantly reducing reaction times when countering pop-up threats. Another new feature is an automatic round-counter function to aid in the planning of logistics and maintenance schedules and to free the soldier from the burden of having to record every firing.


The Carl-Gustaf is engineered with multipurpose rounds that can be used against armored vehicles, soft targets behind the walls as well as anti-structure rounds that can go through thick walls to defeat the targets behind a wall. Available rounds from GDOTS include FFV551 and FFV751 HEAT, FFV552 HEAT target practice, FFV441D anti-personnel, FFV401 area deterrent, FFV502 anti-structure, FFV469C smoke and FFV545C illuminating rounds. Airburst rounds use programmable fuse to explode in the air at a precise location, thereby maximizing the weapon’s effect against enemy targets hiding, for example, behind a rock, tree or building.


The Carl-Gustaf M4 is compatible with intelligent sighting systems, which can detect which type of round is being red, adjusting themselves accordingly. It is prepared for firing programmable rounds.The Army is evaluating a wide range of new technologies for its newer M4 variant to include electro-optical sights with a thermal imager, magnification sights or durable-optical sights, Saab officials explained, Scout Warrior.


Sensors and sights on the weapon can use advanced computer algorithms to account for a variety of environmental conditions known to impact the trajectory or flight of a round. These factors include the propellant temperature, atmospheric conditions, biometric pressure and terrain inclination, “There are a number of parameters that the sight can actually calculate to give you a much harder first round probability of hit,” Walters said.


The US DARPA agency has also contracted Saab Dynamics to study the possibility of using precision-guided rounds under the MOAR (massive overmatch assault round) programme. Since the 2014 launch of Saab’s Carl-Gustaf M4 version, the company has already been investing its own R&D money into new “smart” munitions to leverage the new system’s advanced capabilities.


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