Speaking with many friends and family members returning from Iraq, two things have become painfully clear to me. Number one is the sheer ineffectiveness of the too small caliber rounds our troops are issued on many of the adversaries encountered, and number two is that if not for our M-1 Abrams tanks and air/arty support many of our outgunned infantry units would have easily been overran in many of the urban settings this fight is taking place in. While many of the local insurgents and occasionally the foreign fighters really donít know how to fight, some have learned that U.S. infantry squads are ill equipped to respond to RPG volley fire and properly executed ambushes.
Infantry units that are cut off or are out of reach of air/arty support for whatever reason must rely on what the have on hand when it hits the fan. In most cases this means a limited number of AT-4 or other rocket launchers and a couple of M-203 grenade launchers. While these are reasonably good systems and a lot of fun to shoot, their usefulness can be reduced due to a myriad of reasons. Many times this results in ground pounders having to run through a hailstorm of lead to get in close enough to use hand grenades. This results in unnecessary casualties. Issuing modern rifle grenades to each team member can increase the available firepower, eliminate unneeded risk, and give squad leaders other options when dealing with a situation.
Several new rifle launched grenades have been introduced in recent years that move this type of weapons system up in the hierarchy of modern infantry weapons.
Modern spigot launched grenades are designed to fit a 22mm diameter launcher. This set-up was first utilized by NATO, and appears to now be the international standard.
Many of the currently issued modern rifle grenades are listed as having a 400+ meter range and a larger kill/wound radius than the rounds fired by the issued M203.
One of these new grenades is the REFAIM Advanced Infantry Weapons System being developed by Israel Military Industries. Refaim uses an air-burst, telescopic, bullet trap rifle grenade with point detonation, time delay and self destruct functions. The fragmentation charge is optimized against infantry targets but can also penetrate vehicles and windows by utilizing a short time delay, thereby maximizing the effect behind or within cover. While our DOD is spending millions developing the OICW system requiring a completely new weapon to be developed, a Refaim system can be mounted on current M-16/M-4 rifles. A laser range finder and computer tells the soldier the range to target and the soldier can then program the round to detonate at a desired range as impact or airburst. Special rounds with imbedded cameras and com links are available to retrieve intell while in flight and CS rounds are already available. This would appear to be much more cost efficient and since itís already available could be deployed now instead of waiting for another 10 years.
For special needs cases many other grenades have been developed recently.
The Simon Door Breaching Rifle Grenade (Rifle Launched Entry Munition - RLEM) is the new wonder weapon developed by the Rafael Corp. and are being utilized by Israeli Defense Forces in scenarios that require the use of dynamic entry (entering a building using explosives). Rafael states that this grenade is launched by standard issued rifles (including M-16s) using live ammo to ranges of 15 to 30 meters. The grenades armed with insensitive munitions and only arm after being launched, thus reducing the possibility of accidental detonation. The device is tipped with a 15Ē long standoff rod that detonates the round using the shock wave to knock down the door instead of direct explosive contact needed with many of the satchel charges. This has the potential of reducing fragmenting and collateral damage to nearby friendlies or potential hostages when the door is taken off its hinges. The distance and position of the detonation blow the door inward and out of the way for entry team members.
A. Brent Smith