Corps to field more grenade launchers
02-15-2010 06:27 AM
The Corps will put a multishot rotational grenade launcher into widespread use beginning this summer, giving more infantrymen the ability to pump six 40mm explosive rounds at enemies within three seconds.Nearly 2,200 M32 launchers will hit the fleet beginning in July, Marine officials said. Eventually, the service could buy up to 5,000 of the shoulder-fired weapons under a contract with Milkor USA Inc., of Tucson, Ariz., worth at least $42.2 million, said Capt. Geraldine Carey, a spokeswoman for Marine Corps Systems Command.“The typical [Marine] company will … receive three MSGLs,” she said. “The MSGL is a commander’s discretionary weapon. Unit commanders will decide the means of employment.”The launcher is considered accurate out to 150 yards, and has a maximum effective range of 410 yards. It weighs 13.2 pounds unloaded, and has a 28-inch stock that extends to 32 inches and a 12-inch barrel, according to Milkor.The Corps fielded 210 Milkor M32s in 2006 after commanders in Iraq issued an urgent-need request. About 20 of those launchers remain in use, and the Corps is refurbishing 136 more, Carey said.Acquisition officials have said they want to give grunts an alternative to the 77½-pound belt-fed Mark 19 40mm grenade launcher. The Corps’ gunner community also recommended in 2004 that the service field a beefier alternative to the M203 grenade launcher, a single-shot auxiliary weapon to the M16A4 and M4 rifles that gives small units the ability to provide their own indirect fire support.“When there’s an exchange of fire going back and forth, one of our goals is to immediately gain fire superiority, and when you fire six rounds and you hear six explosions on the back end, sometimes that quiets the guy who’s shooting back at you,” Maj. Jody White, team leader for the weapon’s acquisition, said last June. “It allows us to maneuver at that point, and seek him out and destroy him.”The Corps launched a contract competition last year that did not require rotational action from weapons submitted for consideration and opened options to any company that could supply a launcher capable of firing between four and six 40mm rounds. Models from two other companies were tested last summer, but the service again chose Milkor’s launcher, Carey said.The names of the other companies were not released.
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