Engineers at the Picatinny Arsenal are developing a new kind of hand grenade for today’s warfighters. The M67 hand grenade in current use was designed more than 40 years ago and has been in service since 1968. While it’s been effective, the Army thinks it’s about time for a new one.
The Army wants to give soldiers more options with a variable-effect hand grenade. The grenade will be able to do double duty as either a fragmentation grenade or a concussion grenade with the flip of a switch. The next-generation grenade is called the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade.
A fragmentation grenade works by using an explosion to throw metal shards in all directions. A concussion grenade is still lethal, but it doesn’t blast fragments in all directions — making them less dangerous to use in close-quarters situations. The Army stopped issuing concussion grenades over asbestos concerns in 1975.
The new grenade in development will have an electronic fuse and an ignition system that will let soldiers pick either fragmentation or concussion modes with the flip of a switch. The Army also wanted the controls to be more ambidextrous with the same manual of arms for left- and right-handed users.
The decision to move to an electronic fuse will raise eyebrows but the Army actually wants a more predictable, reliable ignition system. The electronic fuse is accurate to a millisecond. They also want the grenades to have a longer shelf life. The new grenade has been in development for five years.
“[Soldiers] are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects,” said U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) project officer Jessica Perciballi.” 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.”
See Also: Milkor M32A1 Grenade Launcher
“Not only will ET-MP provide additional capabilities and lethality to the warfighter, it will also be the first Army Fuze Safety Review Board and Insensitive Munition-qualified lethal grenade in the Army’s portfolio,” said Perciballi.
Both the Army and the Marine Corps put in requests for a new, improved hand grenade. Initial ET-MP research began in 2010 and engineers received full funding for the project in 2013. Researchers have been working directly with infantry trainers and active-duty Soldiers and Marines.
Engineers expect to have the new grenade in troops’ hands by the 2020 fiscal year, according to Grenades Tech Base Development Lead Matthew Hall.
“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,” said Hall.
The use of an electronic fuse adds an extra layer of safety to the system as well. “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 explained. “Until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate.”