The Sweden-based defence contractor has been tapped to bolster the British Army’s stock of anti-tank weapons.
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The UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a £229 million (AU$415 million) contract to Saab for the delivery of thousands of Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon (NLAW) systems for the British Army.
As part of the contract, the weapons would be manufactured at a Thales facility in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
The new tranche of anti-tank weapons would replenish the UK’s existing stock, which has been drawn from to support Ukraine’s ongoing resistance against Russia following the invasion in late February.
The weapons systems, secured via Defence Equipment and Support, are slated for delivery across 2024 to 2026, with an initial tranche of 500 weapons to be delivered in 2023 via a separate procurement arrangement.
NLAW is billed as a shoulder-launched missile system, which leverages light anti-armour weapons with heavy, crew-operated guided missile systems. The weapons are reportedly capable of destroying a heavily protected modern main battle tank at a range of between 20 to 800 metres.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace noted the importance of the capability, reflecting on their impact during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“These next-generation light anti-tank weapons have played a decisive role in supporting Ukraine’s army to drive back Russia’s illegal invading forces,” he said.
“Working with our first-class industry partners, we are continuing to fulfil our commitment to NATO by ensuring our Armed Forces will receive a steady supply of these weapons over the coming years, whilst supporting UK jobs across the length and breadth of the country.”
This latest procurement from the UK MOD comes just weeks after a £15.4 million (AU$27.7 million) contract was awarded to Plymouth-based firm MSubs for the development of a crewless extra-large autonomous underwater vessel (XL-AUV).
The company has been tasked with delivering the vessel to the Royal Navy in two years’ time as part of what has been dubbed “Project Cetus”.
The vessel would be designed to protect critical national infrastructure and monitor sub-sea activity, operating independently or alongside crewed submarines, including Astute Class SSNs.
The platform’s maximum operational depth is tipped to exceed the current submarine fleet and would reportedly be capable of covering approximately 1,000 miles in a single mission.
The Cetus XL-AUV is expected to be 12 metres long, 2.2 metres in diameter and weigh 17 tonnes — the largest crewless submarine operated by a European navy.
[Related: Royal Navy invests in XL-AUV capability ]