U.S. Army weapon engineers are working on a new hand grenade designed to allow soldiers to choose between fragmentation or blast over-pressure for concussion by simply flicking a switch.
Over the past five years, Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been collaborating with Infantry School representatives, hand grenade cadre, as well as active duty soldiers and Marines, to determine warfighter needs regarding hand grenades.
“Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades,” Jessica Perciballi, project Officer the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose hand grenade at the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, said in a recent Army press release.
“They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation.”
The effort marks the first time in 40 years the Army has set out to give soldiers a new lethal hand grenade. Warfighters lost the capability of using an alternate lethal grenade when the MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 because of an asbestos hazard, leaving the M67 fragmentation grenade.
Another feature is that the grenades are designed for ambidextrous use, meaning that they can be thrown with either hand. Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users.
The request for a multi-purpose grenade came from the warfighter in 2010, according to Matthew Hall, Grenades Tech Base Development lead. Research began almost immediately. The science and technology funding to move forward with a project came in fiscal year 2013.
“We received direct input from the Army and Marine Corps early on, which was critical in ensuring the new arming and fuzing design was user-friendly,” Hall said.
“With these upgrades in the ET-MP, not only is the fuze timing completely electronic, but the detonation train is also out-of-line,” Hall added. “Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate.”
But it may be awhile before soldiers receive this new grenade. The current plan for ET-MP is to transition the new grenades to Project Manager Close Combat Systems at Picatinny in fiscal 2020, Hall said.