Ask any soldier how he would choose to clear a confined space such as a room or cave and he will immediately turn to a hand grenade. This small, lightweight bomb can be hurled in the entrance and the aggressor can take cover while the bomb does its work.
The word grenade comes from the French word for pomegranate as the early grenades looked like the fruit. The grenade seems to have come into existence around the 15th Century and consisted of a hollow iron ball, filled with gunpowder ignited by a slow burning fuse. In the 17th Century, armies began recognizing the value of the grenade and specialized units were formed, called grenadiers, which were trained to throw these little bombs. The new modern grenades have not changed much from the old ones during the Word Wars but now the engineers at the Picatinny Arsenal, are looking to bring the humble grenade into the 21st Century. Picatinny Arsenal is an American military research and manufacturing facility in New Jersey, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Centre (ARDEC).
The new multi-purpose grenade will be the first single unit multi-purpose grenade available to the American soldier. Currently, he only has the use of the M67 fragmentation grenade, as the MK3A2 concussion grenade, was removed from the available weapons list in 1975 following fears over asbestos. There are a number of less lethal grenades available to the modern soldiers, which have the ability to create befuddling noise and flashes, or intense heat for destroying equipment. The new grenade will allow the soldier to select the mode of use by flipping a switch.
Funding has been provided that allows the engineers to develop the so called, Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade. They’ve done a lot of work to ensure that the new grenade is ‘soldier-centric’ in design and that it has improved safety and ease of use features. An example of these features is the grenade will be the first that is designed for ambidextrous use as opposed to the current grenade that requires different arming procedures for left handed people. The Army trains left-handed soldiers to hold the unit upside down, holding the safety lever down with the left thumb, while pulling out the ring with the opposite hand, The National Interest reported.
The project officer for the ET-MP program of the Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division, Jessica Perciballi said that this was the first grenade that can be tailored to a mission,
The Grenades Technical Base Lead, Matthew Hall, said, “The request for a multi-purpose grenade came from the warfighter in 2010. Research began almost immediately. The science and technology funding to move forward with a project came in the fiscal year 2013.”
“We have received a direct input from the Army and Marine Corps early on, which was critical in ensuring the new arming and fuzing design was user-friendly.”
“With these upgrades in the ET-MP, not only is the fuze timing completely electronic, but the detonation train is also out-of-line. Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate,” added Hall.
The grenades will be transitioned in the Fiscal Year 2020.