US military will use a new generation of 40mm grenade launchers to fight UAVs

WASHINGTON, (BM) – The Pentagon’s plans include new weapon systems to counter the increasingly commonly used and so popular military air weapons, namely unmanned aerial vehicles, learned

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According to journalists from the Polish media Defense24, the Pentagon is starting to develop and acquire new 40 mm grenade launchers, which should be able to handle both armored vehicles and enemy drones without any problems. It is assumed that the new generation of weapons will have to replace the existing M203 and M320 grenade launchers currently in service among American soldiers.

According to a widespread inquiry from the Pentagon, the new grenade launcher must be of the “suspended grenade launcher” type, have a caliber of at least 40 mm and its fire potential must differ from the previous ones with precise accuracy and excellent firepower. The weapon must have a proven firepower when hitting not only targets in open space, but also those hidden behind an obstacle. As an additional specification, the US military has set the weight not to exceed 6.5 kg and its length to be approximately 86 cm. Military experts claim that based on the stated characteristics of weight and length, the grenade launcher will be designed for use with two hands.

If the current US grenade launchers have used a limited range of ammunition, the Pentagon requires that the next grenade launcher not be restricted to increase the range of ammunition used by type and model. This means that military companies will have to develop a new type of ammunition, as it will have to deal with targets behind cover, in the open, to hit armored vehicles, as well as drones hovering in the air. All this, according to military experts, suggests that the future ammunition will have to penetrate the armor at an angle of 90 degrees at a bumper thickness of 25 to 50 mm and at a distance of at least 500 m. at least 300 m.

The current grenade launchers in service with the US Army are the M320 and M-320A1. The first has been in service since 2009, while the second version is used as an additional weapon of the M4 carbine. According to the Pentagon, there are currently nearly 45,000 grenade launchers in the US military, mostly Heckler and Koch, also known as the HK GLM. As previously reported, there are older M203 grenade launchers among American soldiers, and they also need to be replaced.

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The new generation of grenade launchers will be an independent system that will complement existing grenade launchers and strengthen the combat capabilities of the US infantry. It is assumed that the new grenade launchers will be able to be additionally equipped with various optical systems for night vision, as well as heat treatment. It is possible that future ammunition, which will determine the firepower of the grenade launcher to have programmable functionality.

US military buys Carl Gustav hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers from Sweden

The Swedish company Saab announced in August this year the signing of a contract for the supply to the US Armed Forces of disposable 84mm AT4 anti-tank grenade launchers and ammunition for 84mm Carl Gustav hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers. According to sources the order is worth about $ 100 million. Deliveries are scheduled for 2021.

The contract was signed as part of a long-term framework agreement signed in 2019 that allows the Army, Marine Corps and US Special Operations Service to place orders for the supply of ammunition for the Carl Gustav grenade launchers and for AT4 grenade launchers for up to $ 445 million over a five-year period.

The AT4, like “Carl Gustav” [designated MAAWS in the US Army], has long been used by the US Armed Forces. Since 1987, Saab has supplied more than 600,000 AT4 units to the Pentagon directly and under license. Carl Gustav grenade launchers have been shipped to the USA since 2013. In 2018, it was announced that the US Army would acquire the latest version of these grenade launchers, the M4 [designated M3E1 in the US[.

At the moment, the Carl Gustav grenade launchers are used by the military in 40 countries of the world. Customers include the armed forces of Australia, Austria, Belize, Venezuela, Germany, Ghana, Denmark, India, Ireland, Canada, Lithuania, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Singapore and Japan.

The AT4CS RS weapon system is a fully disposable, preloaded system with a unique shaped-charge warhead that delivers outstanding behind-armour effect inside the target. Its weight is less than 8 kg and its effective range is from 20 to 300 meters.

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The AT4 system may be considered a disposable, low-cost alternative to the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle. The AT4-CS variant is developed for urban warfare. This version features a saltwater countermass in the rear of the launcher for absorption of the back blast.

The resulting spray captures and significantly slows down the pressure wave, which allows troops to fire from enclosed areas. However the AT4-CS variant is considered to be less effective due to the reduced muzzle velocity from the original 290 m/s to 220 m/s for making it user-safe in a confined space.

US military tests UAVs equipped with 40mm grenade launchers

As we reported last December the US military began experimental tests on drones equipped with 40mm grenade launchers – the drone devices were developed by the Australian company Skyborne Technologies. The drone, armed with three 40mm projectiles, weighs about 6.35 kg, has a flight time of 28 minutes and a range of about 3.22 km, significantly exceeding the range of the M320 grenade launcher (~ 400 m) .

Cerberus drones with onboard grenade launchers are designed to replace the XM25, a semi-automatic grenade launcher designed to hit the enemy live behind behind obstacles, trees and temporary shelters. The XM25 project was frozen in 2018. Development was repeatedly halted due to lack of funding and the cost of ammunition proved too high. Supplying a Cerberus grenade launcher is far from the only proposal. In 2018, the US military thought to equip drones with a lightweight M72 anti-tank grenade launcher that proved itself during the Vietnam War.

The idea then was to shoot at the entrenched foe from high up – almost at a 90-degree angle. The choice made on the M72 is far from accidental – about 100,000 of these ammunition are stored in US warehouses.

Read more: NDMA Places a Second Order for Saab’s Carl-Gustaf Ammunition


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