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Posted: 11/20/2008 6:08:49 PM EDT
Army to field new grenade launcher

By Matthew Cox - Staff writer
Posted : Thursday Nov 20, 2008 15:31:24 EST
The Army will begin replacing its Vietnam-era M203 40mm grenade launcher in February with one designed so soldiers can sight in on targets day and night.

Program Executive Office Soldier “type-classified” the new M320 40mm grenade launcher Nov. 6, a move that ends the weapon’s experimental status as the service moves toward issuing the first of more than 70,000 M320s to deploying combat troops.

“It is going to completely replace the 203s” in the Army’s active, National Guard and Reserve force, said Rich Audette, PEO Soldier’s deputy project manager for Soldier Weapons. “It’s the first time we will have a day-night capability with a grenade launcher.”

The M320 has a sighting system that will enable soldiers to shoot enemy targets around the clock out to 400 meters, unlike the M203 sight system, which is designed for day firing.

The Army has used the M203 since 1969 and has about 50,000 of them. Back-to-back combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a harsh toll on the venerable launcher.

The Army plans to begin fielding the first of 71,600 new replacement launchers in February for a cost of about $3,500 each, Audette said. Fielding of the M320 will likely be completed by 2015, Audette said.

Each M320 will come with a laser range finder and a sophisticated sight that even lets soldiers know if they aren't holding the launcher right.

The grenadier lazes to the target to get the exact range, then dials in the meters to the target, which are displayed in a tiny window on the day-night sight.

The sight indicates whether you are holding the launcher canted too far left or right with a tiny, blinking light — red means it’s canted, green means it’s straight.

For aiming at night, the sight is equipped with a push-button, infrared laser pointer that the grenadiers will see through their night-vision gear.

Like the M203, the M320 mounts beneath the M16 rifle and M4 carbine, but its breech swings open to the left side of the weapon so it can fire grenades up to approximately 9 inches in length.

The M203's slide-up breech prevented the Army from using specialized ammunition such as non-lethal rounds longer than 5.5 inches, Army weapons officials say.

The M320 also has a safer firing mechanism than its predecessor. It has a double-action trigger, an improvement over the M203's single-action trigger, weapons officials say. With the M320, the firing pin remains in the un-cocked position. Pulling the trigger cocks the firing pin to the rear and fires it, reducing the possibility of a round going off if the weapon is dropped or bumped, weapons officials say.

The M320 features its own pistol grip instead of relying on the 30-round magazine of the M16.

Before it is fielded, weapons officials must get a final blessing from Tank-automotive and Armaments Command for “full material release,” said Audette, adding that should be completed in early December.

From there, the Army will conduct some final tests on the first M320s off the assembly line to ensure they meet Army requirements, said Barbara Muldowney, deputy product manager for Individual Weapons.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:10:38 PM EDT
Cool, but heavy-lookin'
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:12:47 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:13:28 PM EDT
Looks sweet.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:14:37 PM EDT
Originally Posted By cowboy7242001:
Originally Posted By Ragin_Cajun:
Cool, but heavy-lookin'

I believe its only a few ounces heavier than the M203. Maybe 4 ounces?

Then I'll take 2
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:15:21 PM EDT
It doesn't feel any heavier... and it shoots better, loads a hell of a lot easier too.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:15:41 PM EDT
Hmmmm.........What was wrong with the 203 again?
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:15:42 PM EDT
Cost per unit?
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:15:53 PM EDT
Yeah, neat piece of gear and like the M79, can be taken off the rifle and fired independently of it.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:16:58 PM EDT
Maybe this will get HK to stop running hit pieces on the M4 Carbine.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:17:50 PM EDT
what exactly is the "night" capability they speak of?  the fact it has a laser range finder?
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:18:03 PM EDT
Originally Posted By cowboy7242001:
Originally Posted By Ragin_Cajun:
Cool, but heavy-lookin'

I believe its only a few ounces heavier than the M203. Maybe 4 ounces?
Depends on whether you are talking the 203 by itself or the 203 with that horrendous new sight that no one likes to have attached to the launcher. If its any heavier than the current bare bones 203, guys aren't going to want it, I suspect. The M4 with the 203 plus your white light plus your PEQ2 plus your ACOG or M68 starts dialing up the weight.

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:19:34 PM EDT
Eh, looks a little complex and easy to break, hard to fix.

They need to keep it simple.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:20:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:
Hmmmm.........What was wrong with the 203 again?

Limited ammo capabilities, primarily....

This is a side-load (tilt-barrel) launcher, so longer/higher-pressure grenades can be fired....

Plus they are probably giving it some sort of laser/electronic sight....
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:20:59 PM EDT
Let me guess, made by HK?
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:21:51 PM EDT
Originally Posted By -GunNutJuell-:
Hmmmm.........What was wrong with the 203 again?

Nothing really, but this one will accept longer rounds due to the way it loads.  That increases it's utility by being able to use a wider variety of ammunition.  I doubt I will see one anytime soon.

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:22:38 PM EDT
I dont like the looks of that spring loaded thing on the side(breech?).

Does not look to be joe-proof to me.
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:23:01 PM EDT
do i have to pay a $200 tax stamp for each grenade I launch into my neighbor's yard?
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:23:08 PM EDT
Surplus 203's for all?


Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:23:16 PM EDT
I hated carrying the M203..

sure, it was great to have it when you need it, but it's a bit cumbersome when you don't.

the M79 was great, you could choose from a wider variety of ordnance

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:23:57 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:24:42 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ArmyInfantryVet:
Yeah, neat piece of gear and like the M79, can be taken off the rifle and fired independently of it.

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:25:06 PM EDT
Originally Posted By realwar:

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:25:39 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:26:55 PM EDT
To all poo pooing this new GL, maybe we should ask the British, and Germans how they like theirs? I think thee are quite a few other countries who have adopted this HK GL.

Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:34:11 PM EDT
Link Posted: 11/20/2008 6:35:39 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Mattl:
Let me guess, made by HK?

Looks like it...

The other 'option' would be FN, who also has a side-load 40mm launcher...

IMHO, the FN product would probably have been a better choice, given our existing relationship with them...

But there are some folks in Army small-arms procurement who obviously have a huge hard-on for HK products....

Looks like they finally got one approved...
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