Monday, 16 March 2020

New Marine Grenade Launchers Get Rave Reviews After Field Tests

In its quest to be more lethal than America’s adversaries, the Marine Corps is rolling out a new grenade launcher.
The M320A1 has a range of 150 meters on a single target, which might be a window, and a 350-meter maximum range on an area target, according to The Washington Times.
The new grenade launcher can be used by itself or mounted onto another weapon, such as the M27 rifle.
The new grenade launcher will allow Marines to lob 40-millimeter projectiles at an enemy in either day or night, according to a news release from Marine Corps Systems Command.
The weapon is being issued to Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and is expected to go service-wide by 2024. 
“The M320A1 is a 40-millimeter grenade launcher intended to replace the M203A2 currently used by the Marine Corps,” Capt. Nick Berger, project officer for the weapon, said in the news release.
The current grenade launcher dates back to the Vietnam War era, according to Military.com.
“It is a weapon designed for the infantry fire team grenadier,” Berger said of the new launcher.
It is also a weapon that shows how technology has changed the military.
Systems Command utilized what’s known as the Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell, which provided 3D printing to create a hammer strut tool used to remove the weapon’s trigger.
“I sat down with Capt. Berger, and he gave me a copy of the tool,” said Capt. Matthew Audette, AMOC’s project officer. “I recreated the tool and made changes to the design to adhere to changes they wanted incorporated.”
Audette said traditional manufacturing would have taken 300 days to do what AMOC did in a few hours.
He noted that the manufacturer will still make the final parts, but that getting the weapon into the hands of Marines for training required a different approach.
“Without AMOC’s assistance, Marines couldn’t have maintained the system if it broke and [the Program Manager for Infantry Weapons] would have had to limit the number of weapons we put in the hands of Fleet Marines,” Berger said, adding that the 3D printing allowed the weapons to be distributed at a faster pace. 
Gunnery Sgt. Jason Wattle, squad adviser for the Infantry Small Unit Leader course, praised the weapon.
“Reloading it and unloading it are easy compared to other systems we’ve had in the past,” Wattle said.
“Users load and unload the M320A1 from the side of the weapon rather than from underneath it, as was the case with the legacy system,” according to the Marine Corps news release. “This is a major advantage because the breach of the weapon is clearly visible and the shooter can more easily load while in the prone — or lying down — position, said Berger.”
“Additionally, if the Marine experiences a misfire and the round must be removed from the barrel, it is safer to have the barrel release from the side and retain the ammunition than to have it release and potentially fall to the ground [from underneath],” Berger added.
Lance Cpl. Leondra Begay, of 1st battalion, II Marine Division Bravo Company, said the training will help Marines become more proficient with the weapon.

“I think it’s great that they allow some of the infantry units to get their hands on the weapon, learn more about it and even shoot it,” Begay said. “Some people who sat in on the class can then teach that information at the small-unit levels.”

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