The Army's new grenade has a split personality

Army engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are working on a new hand grenade design that will allow soldiers to choose between fragmentation or concussion effects.

It also features some other updates like an electronic fuse and an ambidextrous design that’s easier to throw.

et-mp-multi-purpose-grenade

(Graphic: U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center)

The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose grenade will be the Army’s first new hand grenade design in 40 years. It’s also the first time that soldiers will get a concussion grenade in about the same amount of time.

The ET-MP will feature a fragmentation setting which will work similarly to the current design, the M67, where an explosive charge creates shrapnel that flies at high speeds into enemy fighters.

A concussion mode will work in a similar way to the Army’s old MK3A2 concussion grenade. Concussion grenades work by overpressuring the surrounding air, causing a blast wave that can kill enemies in bunkers. The Mk3A2 also served in a limited role for blasting and demolition, a role the new grenade could be capable of as well.

The MK3A2 was retired in 1975 because of asbestos used in the design.

mk3a2-army-retired-grenade

(Photo: U.S. Army Project Manager Close Combat Systems)

Concussion grenades are also good for killing enemies in the open. Concussion grenades usually have a 2 to 3-meter kill radius in the open while a fragmentation grenade is usually lethal for 5 meters or more.

The ET-MP will also feature a new, electronic fuse which provides a much more accurate timing mechanism, allowing the fuze to be accurate to microseconds. The M213 fuze used in current grenades is timed for 4-5 seconds but, due to variances in how long it takes the internal powder train to burn, can actually detonate in as little as 3 seconds.

As an added bonus, the grenade will work the same way for left and right-handed throwers. The M67 requires that left-handed soldiers prepare the grenade and throw it upside down.

The requirements for the new grenade were developed with input from active-duty troops and training cadre who instruct service members on how to use grenades.

The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is leading the research into the new design. The Project Manager Close Combat Systems, an agency that fields munitions and equipment for use by troops, is expected to receive the final grenade in 2020.

More information about the new grenade can be found in the ARDEC press release.