US Army builds ‘ambidextrous’ grenade

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The US Army is working on a new hand grenade that can operate as either a fragmentation or a blast pressure device.

It means collateral damage can be limited in certain circumstances.

It is the first new grenade in more than 40 years, said the Picatinny Arsenal where it is being developed.

Unlike traditional grenades, the Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) hand grenade is designed to be thrown with either the right or left hand.

“Current grenades require a different arming procedure for left-handed users,” said a statement by the US Army.

One of the project’s managers, Matthew Hall, added that another benefit was the use of an electronic component to set off the explosion.

“Detonation time can now be narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate,” he said.

However, one expert told the BBC the grenade was not revolutionary.

“I’m slightly surprised the US has earmarked funds for it as it’s a relatively niche improvement at a time when budgets are stretched,” said Justin Bronk, research fellow in military sciences at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi) think tank.

“The old grenade doesn’t really have any deficiencies per se. This is much more scalable – it can be used as traditional hand grenade or dialled back if you are trying to minimise collateral damage.”

While left-handed soldiers have to be trained to use a traditional grenade slightly differently, it is not a huge issue for them, Mr Bronk added.

“It might marginally reduce the chances of dropping it but they are not particularly difficult to use.”

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Ardec

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The US Army released a graphic of the new grenade

Fighters can select which of the device’s dual functions to use by flicking a switch, the US Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (Ardec) said.

“Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades,” added the unit’s Jessica Perciballi.

“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.”



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