Grenade Launchers, Underslung or Standalone?

Thought I would pose a simplistic question to get a debate going about the merits of underslung versus standalone grenade launchers for dismounted close combat.

A UGL mounted directly to a personal weapon

A member of 9 Parachute Squadron 23 Engineer Regiment keeps watch during the construction of the next phase of Route Trident in Helmand, Afghanistan. A digger is pictured moving the foundations of the road in the background.
A member of 9 Parachute Squadron 23 Engineer Regiment keeps watch during the construction of the next phase of Route Trident in Helmand, Afghanistan. A digger is pictured moving the foundations of the road in the background.

The same type of system but carried separately, with a lightweight stock and sight

The M320, a 40mm grenade launcher, is the replacement to all M203 series of grenade launchers on M16 Rifles and M4 Carbines. An interoperable system, it attaches under the barrel of the rifle or carbine and can convert to a stand-alone weapon
The M320, a 40mm grenade launcher, is the replacement to all M203 series of
grenade launchers on M16 Rifles and M4 Carbines. An interoperable system, it
attaches under the barrel of the rifle or carbine and can convert to a stand-alone
weapon

Multishot grenade launchers carried as the main weapon

M32 Multiple Grenade Launcher
M32 Multiple Grenade Launcher

Or the modern 20-25mm grenade weapons with expensive counter defilade air bursting ammunition

XM25, Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System
XM25, Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System

And, how about an older technology, rifle grenades, either bullet trap or blanks?

Have discounted the light mortar and tube launched systems such as the RPG, Carl Gustav or Panzerfaust for example although they might be seen as alternatives to the dedicated systems.

 

 

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TrT
TrT
October 6, 2013 5:34 pm

The 40mm or the 25mm as a section support weapon
I’ve still not got past Owens arguement in favor of a section support weapon and three PDWs

20 men, a
4 man command squad with radio /wifi and Laser Designator
4 man HMG section
4 man Marksman / sniper section
4 man grenade machine gun section
4 man ATGM section

The extras all carrying PDWs and stuff for the main “gun(ner)”.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
October 6, 2013 5:35 pm

There is one other option; the south african Neopup PAW-20. It uses a short case married to a standard 20mm cannon round so there are lots of different ammunition types around (HEI, SAPI etc). It lacks the expensive fuse and fire-control of something like the OICW but it’s lots cheaper to compensate.

EDIT to add a video. http://www.military.com/video/guns/grenade-launchers/neopup-semi-auto-grenade-launcher/1128989897001/

Phil
October 6, 2013 6:19 pm

Easy. Have one that does both. Leave it up to the blokes how they want to carry it.

jed
jed
October 6, 2013 7:14 pm

Personally I think 1 Milkor six shot per section would be more efficacious than 2 x single shot UGL. I believe some of our more recently shot at commentators have noted before that the time taken to reload the UGL takes something away in terms of application of fire power; but that they are useful for initiating ambushes, or for anti-ambush immediate action drills.

I think the lethality of even the most modern 40mm rounds, and the availability of fire control systems and air bursting kits means the 20 / 25mm just don’t carry enough bursting charge / frag to be worth it ?

I think the multi-round UGL was the greatest potential for MetalStorm, and Tony Williams suggestion to create an 8 round multi shot stand alone squad grenade launcher by adding an extra round to their 3GL, then mounting two of these four round tubes in over and under shot gun style was a superb idea !

Joe88
Joe88
October 6, 2013 7:21 pm

There’s also the South Korean’s combined 5.56mm assault rifle, and xm25 like, smart grendae launcher, laser setting, mulit-fuse setting, weapon which has fared better than the XM25 project.

Can encased ammunition, provide more options for infantry assault weapons?

Things will continue to slowly get “smarter”. Slowly though, as bullets are relatively cheap, so says USN CNO Adm. Greenhert.

What options may the British military have from 2020, with weapons arms that are smart, smart sniper rifles, xm25s etc.?

Mike W
October 6, 2013 7:42 pm

I think that the rationale behind the replacement of the Rifle Grenade General Service (RGGS) by the UGL 40mm grenade launcher was to significantly reduce the ammunition load carried by an infantry section. Other advantages of the UGL system seem to be that it is easy to use, has a low recoil and is able to have a chambered grenade at the ready while the rifleman continues to fire the SA80. I don’t know how far the plans to introduce six UGLs per platoon have progressed but, if carried through, that should result in a significantly increased rate of fire. Again, I don’t know how far the projects to provide extended range ammunition and possibly buckshot rounds for close-quarter fighting have got but those capabilities should be advantageous too. No airburst capability , though.

It would be nice if the British Army could afford something like the lightweight 40 mm six-shot revolver-type grenade launcher developed and manufactured in South Africa by Milkor (called the M32 by the US Marines). That would significantly increase firepower when compared to traditional single-shot grenade launchers.

oldreem
October 6, 2013 7:42 pm

The UGL must make the SA80 even heavier and unbalanced for use as a rifle, unless it can be snapped on and off quickly. And does it prevent a bayonet being fixed?

Phil
October 6, 2013 7:46 pm

SA80 is very balanced as a rifle. With the UGL it’s balance is more like a conventional rifle with a good deal of the weight forward of the trigger.

as
as
October 6, 2013 8:25 pm

You could ask a similar question about shotguns.
There are stand alones and there are under slung.
There is also a huge amount of different ammunition.

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2013 8:28 pm

It all ties in to how you use your grenade launcher. Doctrine for UGLs is that you use the 5.56 to shoot at someone as you have a lot more of it than grenades, then once he is behind cover, drop a 40mm LV on him and blast him back out. Going to things like a 6-shot GL, what are you going to shoot the rest of the time? Notice the guy in the first Milkor picture carrying an M-4 as well? You can’t fire too often, you only got what? 15 grenades at best? Strangely enough, UGL or GL, your carrying capacity if 40mm rounds is the same (+5 for the M-32 though to reflect the magazine). Which means that you pause to think before you use a 40mm, so having to load just before you use it isn’t a deal breaker.

For the 25mm and the rifle grenade, the point of the 40mm is to drop the round from above onto or behind the obstacle the target is hiding behind. Can any of the alternatives do that? Or will they just hit the wall and detonate?

as
as
October 6, 2013 8:37 pm

as
as
October 6, 2013 8:47 pm

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2013 8:54 pm

as, he cheats :) From the flat profile, I can safely say his entire mag load was MV rounds.

Mike W
October 6, 2013 9:02 pm

“Personally I think 1 Milkor six shot per section would be more efficacious than 2 x single shot UGL.”

Sorry, Jed, had not seen your comments when I posted my own.

“The UGL must make the SA80 even heavier and unbalanced for use as a rifle, unless it can be snapped on and off quickly.”

I was going to ask whether the fitting of the UGL made the SA80 more unwieldy, even cumbersome, but forgot. Anyway, Phil seems to have answered your point satisfactorily.

@Observer

Re: rifle grenades. I suppose it is always a bit foolhardy to write off any weapon but I personally cannot see the rifle grenade coming back in its present form. Its only use now seems to be as a highly specialized weapon. The British, I understand, purchased a number of Simon rifle grenades (as a UOR?) for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, these were used for specific tasks such as blowing doors in/down. Now, go on, someone – prove me wrong.

as
as
October 6, 2013 9:12 pm

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2013 9:15 pm

Nope, exactly the point Mike, the flight profile for the rounds are too flat to be used as a “drop behind cover” weapon that the original 40mm was designed for.

as
as
October 6, 2013 9:33 pm

S O
S O
October 6, 2013 9:41 pm

“drop behind cover”

Most 40 mm LV rounds are HEDP, which means they need to use a base fuse or else the shaped charge wouldn’t work.
This in turn means there’s no real frag pattern to the rear.
This coupled with the relatively unimpressive blast effect means 40 mm LV isn’t going to do much against troops behind cover (parapets, walls) either. A grenadier could be overloaded with ammo and would still have to expect negligible effect against troops behind cover, except for that he can scare them into running to another position.

Also, aiming at the correct range becomes incredible difficult the more the impact angle approaches the vertical. Flat trajectories and above ground target areas are the best combination for aiming without fancy FCS.

as
as
October 6, 2013 10:03 pm

found this thought it was interesting
NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN GRENADE AMMUNITION

http://www.quarry.nildram.co.uk/grenades.htm

as
as
October 6, 2013 10:24 pm

It is a shame no one makes a grenade that fits in a 12 gauge 3 inch shotgun shell then we could use the L128A1 and L74A1 already in service.

Ashley
Ashley
October 6, 2013 10:42 pm

I seem to remember that attaching the grenade launcher to a rifle the grenadier could use to defend himself with was a decision proven in fire. And it wasn’t about getting another rifleman into a fight, it was about the grenadier being able to defend himself. For example, note that the XM25, when it still had something in 5.56 bolted to it, had something PDW sized. As was pointed out, that marine is still carrying an M4.

This is also one of the reasons UGL’s are now preferred to rifle grenades, which while an effective solution for their time (and by time I’m talking about trenches, although technology did move on) are now out-dated compared to UGL’s mainly because while the grenade is fitted the grenadier does not have a personal weapon until he fires it.

I think we’d be taking a step back to forget these lessons, even in the face of new shinies.

While I like the idea of air bursting projectiles, and I think they have potential to be one of the biggest steps forwards in firepower we’ve had in a long time, they don’t need to be standalone kits with bullpup 6 round magazines, we’ve already got fire control units that are small enough to mount onto a rifle/gl combo (see http://www.fnhusa.com/l/products/fire-control-systems/fcu-850n-15m/), you then just need to feed that data to the grenade which will of course require a new grenade launcher that can support smart munitions (see the XM25, 40mm CTA cannon). That equipment though probably isn’t a significant portion of the weight of a weapon, although no one seems to want to say how their air bursting weapon works it’s probably just metal contacts on the munition and in the barrel, not rocket science.

However, either air bursting or not, I’m surprised the MetalStorm 3GL has only been mentioned once. While I was initially very skeptical of the idea it has since been proven to work. It looks just like a regular UGL, except it has 3 rounds in the tube and can fire them as fast as the trigger can be pulled. It probably weighs more than a regular UGL because you have three rounds in the tube, but it gives you the multi-shot fire power people seem to be looking for and can still be bolted to a regular rifle. While I’m at it by the way, two 3GL’s would provide the same firepower as a single MGL, just issued to two people and probably lighter (I’ve seen quotes of 5lbs for the standalone, MGL is 11). Issuing it to two people would also be more convenient for our 8 man squads of two 4 man fire teams. Or if you really need the dakka, give the equipment to two people per team.

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2013 11:12 pm

Ashley, Metal Storm folded. The company is no longer in existence.

as, there is one, it slipped by under the AA-12 shotgun development.

Think it was called the FRAG-12

as
as
October 7, 2013 4:14 am

Obsvr
Obsvr
October 7, 2013 4:30 am

H’mm, almost 50 yrs since M79 entered UK service (Borneo backend of ’65 IIRC) and still no one can work out their purpose other that making a bang.

The ammo (HEDP) is a compromise, not much effect against ground targets and not much against AFVs (if you can hit them, probably once you can see the whites of the driver’s eyes through his optics). This raises the key issue, accuracy, or more precisely lack thereof. It’s a low velocity weapon (c. 75 m/s, which means you can watch it throughout its trajectory), so has a relatively high trajectory (ie close to 45 degs elevation at max range 350 – 400 metres), this means accurate range estimation is required and the sights to match. Therefore if you are serious about GLs, you need an effective range finder (effective meaning usable by a man under fire and over relatively flat ground (hint, accurate laser rangefinding is very difficult in these circumstances) and sights to match.

All this would seem to be difficult to achieve when fitted to a rifle, suggesting if you want to be serious it has to be standalone. Of course if you want to be serious and consider 5.56 inadequate because of its limited effective range, then obviously you have a problem with 40mm as well. When we see pics of blokes standing up firing 40mm GLs then I think its safe to assume there are no enemy for miles around.

40mm does have other ammo, the shotgun round might be useful in CQB and a black light illum round might also be useful if there was one.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 7, 2013 7:54 am

Help an oldie.

Do we still have two fire teams or are we back to gun group and rifle group in a rifle section?

Is there still a 2″/52 mm mortar in platoon HQ?

Thanks

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 7, 2013 9:37 am

As Tony Williams article (kindly provided by as) says you can now get air burst 40mm rounds for both LV and HV – I assume MV wouldn’t be too much of a problem? The original justification for bringing in the 40mm UGL was to replace the lost capabilities of the 51mm mortar; since then we’ve also got the 60mm Mortar in two versions.

I did wonder awhile back if the grenade launcher and shotgun could be combined; 12 gauge is 18.1mm I believe and the Russians have a 23mm shotgun (for special purposes and the recoil is ridiculous apparently). There have also been examples of pump action launchers:

http://world.guns.ru/shotgun/rus/ks-23-e.html

http://world.guns.ru/grenade/rus/gm-94-e.html

http://world.guns.ru/grenade/usa/ex-41-e.html

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2013 9:37 am

Deja Vu, still 2 fireteams if I recall the British section correctly.

Obsvr, you don’t really need laser aiming, all you need is to estimate rough distance and practice aimoff. For example, you put the quadrant sight on target, then fire the round and see where it lands. Then correct for it in the opposite direction. E.g from your point of view, the round landed 2cm right and 1 cm high in your sights. Next time you fire, aim 2 cm left and 1 cm lower. It should get your round on target. Best thing about this method, you don’t need sights zeroed for you, it works even with a weapon you randomly picked up. You’d waste one round though, but in all further encounters near that range, you should be able to judge the right amount of aimoff to use.

Mike W
October 7, 2013 9:49 am

@Deja Vu and others

“Is there still a 2″/52 mm mortar in platoon HQ?”

I was going to ask something of the same question regarding the 51 mm mortar. When the AG-36 grenade launcher was introduced to British service, I believe that it was issued on the scale of two launchers to each fire team and was supposed to replace both the RGGS Rifle Grenade and the 51 mm mortar. I would like to know whether there are any 51 mm mortars left at all in British service or whether it has been completely replaced by the American 60 mm (Hirtenberger?).

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 7, 2013 9:51 am
Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 7, 2013 10:36 am

If 2 fire teams do they both have a LMG and what is it? LSw, a Minimi or a GPMG or LSW. Or is it 1 X LSW and 1 X Minimi. Or as my son was taught last year at OTC is it still 2 x LSW!! on the G10.

What about the 7.62 Rifle purchased for Herrick as an UOR will it be taken into the core, and how will it fit in the organisation.

How does the platoon lay smoke without 51mm Mortar ( I stand corrected, thank you @Mike W, that buy didn’t last long then might have just selected the best 2″).

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 7, 2013 11:18 am

According to wiki this is the common make up of an infantry section at the moment:

1 x GPMG (FN MAG)
1 x L129A1 Sharpshooter Rifle
2 x L110A1 LMG
2 x L85A2 Assault Rifles, UGL
1 x L85A2 Assault Rifle
1 x L85A2 Assault Rifle, L128A1 Combat Shotgun

I always think the make up of a unit should depend to some degree on their current task and the inventory should be able to make this a flexible choice at the start of a deployment.

HurstLlama
HurstLlama
October 7, 2013 1:19 pm

@Engineer Tom

Thanks for providing that info.

The eight-man section has a long history, the Romans used it, but looking at the load-out provided by Mr. Tom I do wonder how it actually works. A GPMG is not a one man weapon, to work effectively it needs a loader as well as the gunner and to work to its best effect it needs a third man (the lance jack) spotting for it . The section corporal needs to remain in charge so should be free of specific tasks. However, there seems to be only one post un-encumbered by other, weapon related, duties. So how does command and control at the section level work?

As to the platoon mortar issue: has the UK purchased the Commando version of the Hirtenberger or the full-blooded version. It wouldn’t surprise me if we had gone for the latter because it it so much heavier (total weight, excluding ammo, about 50lbs. The high brass seem to be playing a game of ‘how much can we load them’ with the infanntry.

I am sure it all makes sense to somebody. Damned if I can see it though.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 7, 2013 2:35 pm

Thanks @ET I was hoping to get an answer from someone at the coalface.

Unless the changes go deeper than I could have possibly imagined, it’s what’s on the AF G1098, Unit Establishment Tables, not Wikipedia that counts.

The British Army Web site states

The LMG complements the Light Support Weapon and enhances the effectiveness of all section weapons across the spectrum of infantry operations.

I was under the impression that one of the lessons learned from Ops Telic and Herrick was that Minimi L110A1 didn’t have the range or the ‘Sod this for a lark, I’m off’ effect on the enemy. Hence all the 50 Cal and WMIK GPMG

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 7, 2013 3:09 pm

Looking at the section setup I would personally have (no experence but thought I would have a play around):

Charlie Fireteam:
Corporal, armed with an L85A2 5.56mm rifle with 40mm underslung grenade launcher.
Rifleman, armed with an L85A2 5.56mm rifle with 40mm underslung grenade launcher.
Rifleman, armed with a 7.62mm Minimi LMG
Rifleman, armed with an L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle.

Delta Fireteam:
Lance Corporal, armed with an L85A2 5.56mm rifle with 40mm underslung grenade launcher.
Rifleman, armed with an L85A2 5.56mm rifle with underslung Shotgun (M26? equivalent).
Rifleman, armed with a 7.62mm Minimi LMG
Rifleman, armed with an L129A1 Sharpshooter rifle.

Any ideas?

I think the GPMG should be vehicle based and hopefully taking the LMG’s up from the 5.56 Minimi to the 7.62 Minimi should provide a bit more punch when the unit is on foot. I also choose two sharpshooters as I think that in a time when we have tight ROE, surely we should be looking to provide accurate fire onto specific targets.

Though as I said earlier we should be ready to change the weapons an infantry section is equipped with before deployment based on the mission they are deploying for.

Phil
October 7, 2013 5:01 pm

Sections are useful default settings and templates but the Platoon is the weapon system and the PC can and in my experience does, allocate various men to the various taskings at the various times depending on the various requirements. The section may be a convenient unit of employment for a task – but it also may not be.

The real rule is that a fighting unit designed to close with and destroy should have 2, almost always and preferably three components so it can have: one element moving (or trying to!), one element with a foot on the ground and one element in reserve getting the brews on and bombing up the mags.

Andy
Andy
October 7, 2013 5:45 pm

Mike W

I believe the 51mm was phased out as the MoD/Army was having trouble procuring ammo for it once stores ran out, therefore moved over to the 60mm in line with our allies.

Monty
October 7, 2013 6:38 pm

The MV 40 mm airburst HEDP round has been a real game changer for Section-level GLs. It provides a 600-800 metre capability. The problem is you need some kind of recoil mitigation system to compensate for the substantially increased thump in the shoulder when you fire it. Fitting a hydraulic buffer to a standalone 40 mm MV system certainly helps, but weapon weight increases by at least 25-30%.

The other development that’s changing things is that we’re starting to see some pretty nifty new GL sights with integrated ballistic computers and laser range finders. They can allow a 40 mm grenade to be fired with a much greater degree of accuracy. FN showed such a system at DSEI in September.

Put these developments together and a multi-round 40 mm GL makes a lot of sense. I think they could be the next big thing in infantry weapons. The XM25 has set a benchmark standard in this new category. Unfortunately, the burst pattern appears not to be lethal enough. We may well see this weapon re-invented as a 40 mm MV system. Meanwhile, the Chinese have launched the QLB-06 multi-round launcher. This is very similar to the M32 but has a very beefy 35 mm grenade. Tony has fully described it in his article. It is probably the best system of its kind currently available.

I think we can expect the UK to identify a 40 mm multi-round MV GL requirement in the not too distant future, not least because the new 60 mm platoon-level mortar is so much bigger and heavier than the old 51 mm / 2″ tube we used to have – and is a b*gger to schlep around the battlefield. A 40 mm system with a variety of ammunition types could provide a welcome capability boost across a range of combat scenarios: e.g. anti-personnel rounds with large shotgun-type pellets, illumination and smoke, anti-armour, anti-structure munitions and other HE varieties.

This doesn’t mean the standalone 40 mm LV launcher is destined for the scrapheap. I think both LV and MV will continue to be used together for some time to come. I’ve noticed that a lot of US soldiers with the new M320 system prefer to carry it detached from their weapon and use it like the old M79 from the Vietnam era.

Owen’s 20 man squad is all very well. But to paraphrase General George S. Pattern: “No matter how sophisticated weapons become, you’ll still need a guy with a rifle and bayonet to flush the enemy out of his foxhole to sign the Goddamn peace treaty.”

Yep, someone has to fire and manoeuvre across open ground to close-with and defeat the nemy in hand-to-hand combat. You can’t do that very well when carrying tons of kit – including multi-shot 40 mm GLs.

Mike W
October 7, 2013 7:39 pm

@Andy

“I believe the 51mm was phased out as the MoD/Army was having trouble procuring ammo for it once stores ran out, therefore moved over to the 60mm in line with our allies.”

I suspected that might be the case, Andy. It looks, though, from what Monty has said, that the new 60 mm Hirtenberger mortar is much bigger and heavier than the old 51 mm and therefore more difficult to cart around, so something else might come in eventually. Thanks very much for the information anyway.

@ Monty

“I think we can expect the UK to identify a 40 mm multi-round MV GL requirement in the not too distant future,”

Rather a naive question stemming from my relative ignorance in the area but are all multi-round GLs of the revolver type (a la M32)? Is there any other method of projecting rounds in fairly rapid succession?

S O
S O
October 7, 2013 8:38 pm

“I was under the impression that one of the lessons learned from Ops Telic and Herrick was that Minimi L110A1 didn’t have the range or the ‘Sod this for a lark, I’m off’ effect on the enemy.”

Minimi is usually used with bipod, and this doesn’t allow accurate suppressive fires at longer ranges. It’s largely a question of dispersion – the guy to be suppressed doesn’t understand he’s meant to be if the bullets go somewhere else.

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 7, 2013 8:58 pm

The L110(not sure what Anumber it is at now. Maybe A3?) is used off a bipod, but also with a short barrel and retractable stock (or at least it was) so ended up like a bit of a big submachine gun due to large dispersion and low energy at longer ranges.

A GPMG off a bipod is good for 800m or so, reports had it that the LMG struggled at 300m

Of course, the LMG has a quick-change barrel so re-barreling with the longer barrel should be simplicity itself, which would at least match it to the section’s rifles. Doesn’t seem to have happened though.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2013 9:46 pm

So how much 40mm ammo can an infantryman carry? My time, it was 5 rounds in a narrow pack. I think you can get up to 15 rounds on your vest, but that means you can only shoot 15 times in battle if you went with the 40mm as your main weapon.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
October 7, 2013 11:07 pm

I’m pretty sure the US VN issue grenade vest carried 36 (For the M79), but I’m pretty sure they carry a lot less now due to all the other things they have to lug.

TrT
TrT
October 8, 2013 6:18 am

“So how much 40mm ammo can an infantryman carry?”
I cant find the weight tables at the moment, so speculation.
A soldier with just 15 shots is unlikely to be useful, which is why I believe in looking at it on a fire tea level.
Again, cant find the weight tables, but something like a P90 with 200-300 rounds weighs about 2kg less than an L1A2 with 180 rounds. So the grenade fire team should be able to hold 100 shots for the bombadier?

Monty
October 8, 2013 9:18 am

@MikeW

There are three different ammunition storage systems for multi-round GLs. One is the revolving chamber, as per the M32 and Chinese QLB-06; the second is the stacked magazine as per the XM25 and Rheinmetall Hydra; and the third is where you have three shots stacked one behind the other in a single barrel, as per the Metal Storm system.
Of these, I tend to think that a 5-round box magazine is the best option as it easier to carry and can be reloaded faster. Overall, the XM25 is a great design and will mature into a superb weapon once the initial kinks are ironed out.

@SO

Mr Fred is right when he says that the L110A1 5.56 mm Minimi LMG has ended-up being used like an SMG. The barrel was too short to provide effective supporting fire beyond about 200 metres. A longer barrel would improve range and I believe there are plans to upgrade the Army’s Minimi fleet. This chimes with reports of the Army using the SA80 L86A2 LSW as LMG / DMR and hitting targets at 400 metres, but it must have been a calm, windless day. Whichever way you cut it, 5.56 mm NATO ammunition is most effective below 300 metres and there is a clear requirement to neutralise enemy targets at 600 metres. The 7.62 mm Minimi would sort-out this problem, but so far only SF has them. The GPMG is still carried at section-level and a very good piece of kit is.

Mike W
October 8, 2013 9:44 am

Many thanks for your very informative reply.

” Overall, the XM25 is a great design and will mature into a superb weapon once the initial kinks are ironed out.”

Good to know that. I wonder whether the British are looking at it or whether they have something else in mind.

Monty
October 8, 2013 9:55 am

@MikeW

I am sure the UK is looking at the XM25, but we won’t be buying it any time soon. As things stand, the XM25 has four major issues:
1. It costs a lot of money primarily due to the FCS
2. It has massive recoil
3. The burst pattern of the 25 mm Grenade is sub-optimal in terms of lethal radius
4. The weapon itself needs modification to overcome safety issues

I’d like to see someone take the XM25 concept and create a 40 mm multi-shot system. This is essentially what the Rheinmetall 40 mm Hydra is, but so far only a mock-up has been shown. As things stand, we may see the XM25 up-gunned to a larger grenade design. The weapon design will also be modified to incorporate better recoil mitigation. This is likely to take time to get right.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 8, 2013 10:01 am

French combo rifle/grenade launcher; cancelled I think…

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/PAPOP

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 8, 2013 10:08 am

Some info on Hydra here:

http://www.esdpa.org/2011/10/rheinmetall-infantry-symposium-2011/

Also some interesting hand grenades…

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
October 8, 2013 10:42 am

TD Good topic raises plenty of questions.

I have a David & Charles reprint of the 1914 Officer’s Handbook, I suspect my notes from the mid-seventies have equal relevance today.

DV

wf
wf
October 8, 2013 10:54 am

Given what is around today in terms of weight of ammunition and launchers, it seems clear that at the platoon level and below we cannot do suppression with grenades, only destruction. If that is the case, whatever we use has to be accurate, but doesn’t need to be self loading. Extended M79 with laser sight and MV 40mm ammunition, anyone? UGL’s won’t have the barrel length due to their positioning (unless we move them on top of the rifle of course).

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
October 8, 2013 11:39 am

@ wf – “If that is the case, whatever we use has to be accurate, but doesn’t need to be self loading. ”

Would a return to rifle grenades make sense then? Inert rounds/blank cartiges allow a lot of cheap practice and the Israelis were working on a “smart” system…

http://defense-update.com/products/r/refaim.htm

Mike W
October 8, 2013 12:26 pm

Monty

Many thanks for your interesting reply. XM25 certainly seems a system with potential.

wf
wf
October 8, 2013 1:08 pm

@Swimming Trunks: re rifle grenades, not accurate enough. Supposedly the mark of a good M79 gunner was to place grenades consistently through a window at 150m, so we’d be looking for a bit better than that with MV grenades and a longer barrel, plus timed airburst like the XM25.

S O
S O
October 8, 2013 2:07 pm

Advantages (and disadvantages) of the alternatives

Underbarrel 40 mm LV, MV and comparable Russian 30 mm:
light weight per shot
a FCS may be used with the carbine as well
(-) too front heavy with conventional rifles

Stand-alone 40 mm LV, MV:
Multi-shot gun is practical (weight)
(-) not ready to shoot unless it’s the primary weapon

30, 35 and 40 mm “HV” (ARPAD and Chinese, Russian, Croatian designs):
Good effective range (appropriate for platoon level needs)
(-) heavy, bulky weapon comparable to a GPMG

Usual rifle grenades:
Are supercalibre; can have very large diameter (important for shaped charge)
No spin, thus better effectiveness of shaped charge (but also difficulties with electronic timed fusing)
No weapon weight (other than possibly a sight or FCS)

Spin-stabilised rifle grenades:
light weight per shot
possibly sophisticated FCS may be used with carbine as well
Very light weapon weight (“Schiessbecher”)

Combined rifle and hand grenades:
high versatility
no weapon weight other than possibly sights
(-) trade offs, two fuzes or fuze in screwed-on module required)

Reloadable lightweight bazookas (“SARPAC”):
decent calibre for shaped charge
(-) backblast (or high weight for confined spaces ammunition)

Reloadable Panzerfaust or RPG type weapons including Brunswick RAW:
supercalibre warheads, fine for shaped charge; possibly a serious AT weapon
(-) backblast (or high weight for confined spaces ammunition)

50-60 mm Commando mortar:
fine for high angle impact (near-perfect frag pattern)
(-) bad in everything else; no shaped charge utility, no good at short range, weight like 40 mm multi shot guns

Handflammpatrone, propelled hand grenade:
lightweight munition
(-) rudimentary aiming, limited impulse or kinetic energy practical

Direct fire mortar (Lacroix “Samourai”)
good calibre
(-) High impulse, heavy wepaon

Shotguns:
no need for a carbine or PDW as a 2nd individual weapon
no need for signal pistols
light weight per shot
extra food
(-) very small and thus weak calibre

Underbarrel shotgun (M26):
no need for signal pistols
extra food
light weight per shot
(-) too front heavy with conventional rifles

Flamethrower:
smoke effect
scary
(-) politically incorrect and hazardous

Guided missile launcher (USMC’s 4 kg Spike etc.):
Fantastic range
(-) Fiscally inappropriate at short range, backblast

TrT
TrT
October 8, 2013 8:40 pm

Regarding lethality
Does it “have” to be lethal?
Flash, Bang, Smoke, all much easier weight wise, and, one wonders, as effective at disabling enemy forces?
If you are actually blinded, actually deafened, or simply sat in a cloud of smoke, you cant do much.

S O
S O
October 8, 2013 9:23 pm

That’s reasoning for short range combat, where you can expect to move to the position of the effect soon thereafter. Offensive hand grenades (no intended fragmentation) exist for this reason.

grenade launchers, rifle grenades et cetera are often shot at places where you cannot follow up quickly, so the desired effect better not be temporary only. That’s what you have suppressive machinegun fire for.