Saab extends range of NLAW | World Defense

Saab extends range of NLAW

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Saab extends range of NLAW
Robin Hughes, London - IHS Jane's Missiles & Rockets
23 August 2015

Saab Dynamics Saab Dynamics' NLAW man-portable anti-armour system. Source: Saab Dynamics
Key Points
  • NLAW's range has been increased by a third, achieved by 'fine-tuning' software
  • The company is now considering additional range enhancements to NLAW
Saab Dynamics in Karlskoga, Sweden, has extended the range of its baseline RB57 NLAW (Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapon) shoulder-launched anti-tank guided-weapon (ATGW) system through a series of refinements to the missile's guidance software.

Markus Mellquist, head of marketing and sales for Saab Dynamic's Ground Combat Systems business, told IHS Jane's that the company has achieved an increase of some 33% on the current NLAW range of 600 m without making any changes to the missile hardware.

"Using the vast amount of test data from production and live firings, Saab has been able to optimise the guidance system of the NLAW weapon system by fine-tuning its Predicted Line of Sight [PLOS] software to extend the effective range beyond the 600 m to which it is currently designed. We have demonstrated through successful firings that we are able to effectively engage targets at 800 m and up against stationary targets. That's fairly significant. We do not yet have the numbers for moving targets."

Derived from other Saab Dynamics anti-armour technologies including the AT4 and BILL 2, NLAW is a 150 mm calibre soft-launched fire-and-forget ATGW system, with an effective range of between 20 m and 600 m, although engagements are typically constrained to 400 m for a moving target, and the full 600 m is for a stationary target.

Using PLOS, the NLAW missile's guidance electronics unit automatically receives target speed data from the gunner's aiming movement, and calculates and predicts the target route as well as the flight path to the target. After launch the missile flies autonomously to the target.

NLAW has two selectable engagement modes: overfly top attack (OTA), for use against main battle tanks and armoured vehicles, and direct attack (DA) against soft-skinned vehicles and secondary targets. The missile is equipped with a single 102 mm downwards-angled (90°) copper-lined, dynamically compensated shaped-charge warhead, initiated by a dual optical/active magnetic sensor proximity fuze for OTA mode.

Mellquist said that all newly produced NLAW rounds will have the optimised range. However, the EUR32 million (USD36 million) NLAW replenishment order placed in June this year by the Finnish Defence Forces will comprise missiles with the original range.

Originally developed for Sweden and the UK, NLAW is currently in service with Finland, Luxembourg, Sweden, and the UK. Mellquist said that a recent 'change in policy' from Russia has definitely increased interest in NLAW in Europe, and that additional customers are now lined up in the near-term.

Mellquist said that while there are no plans to reduce the weight of the system, the main development focus is on further range enhancements. "Of course we are always looking at new concepts, but I can disclose that we are investigating adding even more range - we have conducted some firings to extend the range, but we also have a few other initiatives. This would involve more than a software tweak."
Saab extends range of NLAW - IHS Jane's 360
 
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