Back in 2002, the Army's ammo development office introduced the first infrared illuminating rounds for the service's various mortar calibers.
But now, Soldiers have the power to light up the night without, well, "light" from the tubes of their 40mm grenade launchers.
Also approved for full materiel release in October, this cartridge provides an illumination/signaling capability via an infrared candle – a first of its kind for the M203 and M320 40mm grenade launchers. The round can also be fired from the legacy M79 40mm grenade launcher.The Army plans to purchase 22,000 IR 40mm rounds this year.
"The M992 provides a capability not previously available to the Soldier that takes advantage of U.S. Armed Forces technology to improve night-time operation success," said Gregory Bubniak, Project Officer for 40mm Ammunition, Project Manager Maneuver Ammunition Systems (PM-MAS). "It enhances night operation capabilities of troops equipped with night vision equipment, while producing minimal visual signature outside of the infrared spectrum. This will allow users to access the approximately 90,000 cartridges available in inventory."
Picatinny also announced the release of new 105 and 155mm IR illum rounds for use in the field. The 155 round in particular produces more than two minutes of IR illum with a diameter twice the amount of the visible light projectile.
The Army plans to finish buying 7,000 so-called "M1066" rounds in this FY and procure 4,000 rounds each year thereafter. The Marine Corps is also getting into the game with a buy of 8,000 rounds in FY '11 and 4K thereafter.
I've never seen this capability in the field, nor have I ever heard of it before. All I've ever had any experience with is visible light illum rounds. Kit Up! would love to hear whether anyone can give us the straight gouge on how well these work and how they've changed tactics in the field.