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26 juillet 2013 5 26 /07 /juillet /2013 11:20
Natick develops holster for M320 grenade launcher

Jul 25, 2013 ASDNews Source : US Army

 

When the M320 40 mm grenade launcher began replacing the M203 in 2009, it put a new and more lethal weapon into the hands of the Soldier.

 

There was one question, however. How would he or she best carry it?

 

An equipment specialist with Product Manager Soldier Clothing and Individual Equipment, or PM SCIE, is trying to answer that question. Darren Bean has been working at the Natick Soldier Systems Center since November 2012 on the M320GL Holster Soldier Enhancement Program, or SEP.

 

The detachable M320, named one of the Army's top 10 inventions of 2009, comes equipped with a sling to carry it when not mounted to the M4 carbine or M16 rifle, according to Bean.

 

"It was a one-point sling, so (the weapon) was kind of bouncing around," Bean said. "If you went down to the ground, you were dragging it through the dirt. Most people felt that protection was needed at some level because they were just getting dragged in the dirt and pounded on."

 

Some Soldiers began looking for a better solution than the sling for the M320, which weighs seven pounds with the butt stock.

 

"They decided they wanted to be able to put it in a holster rather than just shove it in their ruck sack," Bean said.

 

The SEP allowed the purchase of enough holsters to equip a brigade combat team. He said the "buy-try-decide" concept allows the Army to test the functionality of equipment without spending a lot of time on research and development.

 

Bean found three commercial vendors who make M320 holsters, so PM SCIE acquired 167 of each.

 

"They're of varying design," Bean said. "All three of them were very different from each other."

 

One model includes pockets for grenades but is bulky. Another is more streamlined but offers less protection for the weapon. The third is a cross between the other two.

 

Bean put the holsters in the hands of a dozen Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga., who went through a set of standardized tests in mid May. The Soldiers filled out surveys after the testing.

 

The testing was to make sure it was realistic to go forward, Bean said.

 

"Now we can actually test them with an entire brigade," he added.

 

Each one of the holsters has had small issues, according to Bean.

 

"None of them have performed necessarily any better than the other ones," Bean said. "They all have some small things that need to be tweaked."

 

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) from Fort Drum, N.Y., the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Vermont National Guard, and Soldiers in Afghanistan are currently evaluating the holsters. The Consumer Research Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center will collect data. PM SCIE officials will then make a recommendation to the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning by the beginning of fiscal year 2014.

 

"The need is there, for sure," Bean said. "I think the end state of this will be that they will say, 'Yes, we need a grenade launcher holster for this when we use it in the stand-alone mode.'"

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20 octobre 2011 4 20 /10 /octobre /2011 17:20
M4 carbine with M203A1

M4 carbine with M203A1

 

October 20, 2011: STRATEGY PAGE

 

U.S. soldiers and marines are using a new magazine for the 40mm grenades they fire from their single shot M203 and M320 grenade launchers. The MAG-D looks like a large rifle magazine. It is spring loaded and holds five 40mm rounds. Troops can easily pull a 40mm grenade from the MAG-D and load it into their weapon. A loaded MAG-D weighs less than three kg (6.6 pounds) each and is designed to hang from the webbing of the protective vest, and make additional rounds quickly available to troops carrying a rifle with a M203 or M320 attached (under the barrel). In the past, the 40mm rounds were carried loose or in bandoliers, and often got dirty or damaged. MAG-D also eliminates confusion about where different types of 40mm grenades are (high explosive, flare, smoke, tear gas, fuel-air explosive). U.S. Marines were the first to use MAG-D (which was invented by a former marine) and want more of them.

 

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army has replaced the M203 40mm grenade launcher with the M320, while the marines are still using the M203. The both launchers fit under the barrel of the M16 rifle (and similar weapons), and have been in use for forty years. The army bought 71,000 M320s (for about $3,500 each) to replace the 50,000 M203s it was using. The M320 is similar to the M203, but easier to use, has its own pistol grip, is more accurate and can be used separately from an M16 with the addition of a stock.

 

The biggest improvement with the M320 is its sighting system, which features a laser range finder. At night, an infrared range finder enables a soldier wearing night vision goggles to see the light beam. In over a year of testing, the M320s sighting system was seen to make the weapon much more accurate than the older M203. This was particularly the case with new users. With the M203, you got better after you had fired a hundred or so rounds. That took time, and was expensive (the 40mm grenades cost about $28 each). The 40mm grenades weigh 543 grams (19 ounces) each and have a range of about 400 meters. The grenade explosion can kill within five meters, and wound up to ten meters or more.

 

The marines also use the M32, a six round 40mm grenade launcher. It looks like a cross between a shotgun and a revolver type pistol. Most marine units are equipped with the M203, usually two or three per squad.

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