By Eric Kowal, Picatinny Arsenal Public AffairsSeptember 19, 2016
PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. -- Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal are working on the first new lethal hand grenade in more than 40 years, which is designed to give greater flexibility to the warfighter.
The multi-purpose hand grenade design will provide both fragmentation and blast overpressure more effectively and safely than its legacy counterparts. Once fielded, Soldiers will be able to select and use a hand grenade with different effects simply by flipping a switch.
Over the past five years, Picatinny engineers have been collaborating with Infantry School representatives, hand grenade cadre, as well as active duty Soldiers and Marines, to determine warfighter needs regarding hand grenades.
Our warfighter lost the capability of using an alternate lethal hand grenade when the MK3A2 concussion grenade was taken out of service in 1975 due to an asbestos hazard, leaving the M67 fragmentation grenade.
The grenade development at Picatinny is being performed by engineers with the Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC.
Science and technology funding has allowed ARDEC to spearhead the design effort to develop the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade, the Army's next generation lethal hand grenade. The grenade will be designed to meet performance requirements required for close combat engagements in which the effects must be lethal.
ARDEC is working in cooperation with the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, and the Program Manager for Close Combat Systems, to insert critical technologies with Soldier-centric designs to improve safety and ease of use.
According to Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC project officer for ET-MP, Army, Grenades & Demolitions Division, ET-MP represents the first hand grenade that can be tailored to the mission. Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades.
"They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects. 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," Perciballi said.
Another feature is that the grenades are designed for ambidextrous use, meaning that they can be thrown with either hand. Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users.
"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," Perciballi added.
According to Matthew Hall, Grenades Tech Base Development Lead, the request for a multi-purpose grenade came from the warfighter in 2010, and research began almost immediately. The science and technology funding to move forward with a project came in fiscal year 2013.
"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," Hall said.
"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 added. "Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate."
According to Hall, the current plan for ET-MP is to transition the new grenades to Project Manager Close Combat Systems in Fiscal Year 2020. That organization is also located at Picatinny Arsenal.
The U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center is part of the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, which has the mission to ensure decisive overmatch for unified land operations to empower the Army, the joint warfighter and our nation. RDECOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Materiel Command.