Engineers at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) are designing a next-generation hand grenade, which will have two deadly modes and could offer more flexibility to U.S. soldiers.
The U.S. military uses two types of grenades: fragmentation and concussion models. A fragmentation grenade explodes and it releases shrapnel and ball bearing that hits enemy combatants. Fragmentation grenades have a radius of about 49 feet.
A concussion grenade results in a powerful blast that can incapacitate or kill. However, these grenades have a smaller radius, which means soldiers have to use them in close proximity.
The hand grenade being developed by ARDEC is known as Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose, or ET-MP. This new device can combine the fragmentation and concussion models in one single grenade. Soldiers in war zones will be able to switch between modes from fragmentation to concussion or vice versa by flipping a lever in the grenade.
Currently, soldiers in the U.S. army carry one M67 fragmentation grenade. In 1975, the military took the MK3A2 concussion grenade out of service because of asbestos hazard.
ARDEC is also implementing some design changes to the ET-MP. Current fragmentation grenades require different arming procedures for right-handed and left-handed users. However, the next-gen ET-MP is ambidextrous and arming procedure is same for left-hand or right-hand users.
The ET-MP will be fully electronic, which will result in greater precision and reliability of the grenade.
"With these upgrades in the ET-MP, not only is the fuze timing completely electronic, but the detonation train is also out-of-line," says Matthew Hall, a development lead on the project. "Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds."
Hall added that the new ET-MP grenade will not explode until it is armed by a soldier.
Reports suggest that existing grenades have hardly seen any design changes in the last four decades. The need for a fresh hand grenade was made in 2010 while funding for the research of a new grenade got approved a few years later in 2013.
Since then, engineers have worked together with Marines and soldiers on duty to understand the needs of a new grenade. Engineers have determined the requirement of a new grenade and the idea of ET-MP was born. By 2020, ARDEC is estimated to move the ET-MP to the following development stage at the Project Manager Close Combat Systems located at Picatinny Arsenal.
The U.S. military will have to wait another few years before the ET-MP can be used in combat.
Photo: The U.S. Army | Flickr