The new automatic grenade launcher is designed as an assault rifle
At this year’s Eurosatory, which is an industry fair where international companies can showcase their weapons and other defense products, German company Rheinmetall unveiled its detachable magazine-fed automatic grenade launcher. The Squad Support Weapon 40, or SSW40, which looks like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, is attracting attention for its ability to fire medium-velocity 40mm shells that could provide small units with great firepower, and many, in a relatively compact format. package.
According to Rheinmetall press release, the SSW40 is the world’s first self-loading grenade launcher. It is not known whether “automatic” means that this weapon is capable of firing fully automatically. Broadly similar semi-automatic weapons intended primarily to be fired from bipods or vehicle mounts have appeared in different parts of the globe. Thus, it could be that the SSW40 is “the first” to be fully automatic or to be semi-automatic and intended to be fired from the shoulder like a more traditional firearm. The company says the handling, ergonomics and specifications of the SSW40 were inspired by assault rifles, giving the launcher a generally familiar streamlined design.
It’s also important to note that the SSW40 reveal is the product of a much longer development process. Rheinmetall’s Hydra weapon, which is also a magazine-fed automatic grenade launcher, is believed to have been a prototype for the SSW40 and was first introduced a decade ago in 2012. The model was released as part of from a collaboration between Rheinmetall and Milkor USA, which showcased the Hydra at the annual SHOT Show in the United States in 2016.
Since the specific details surrounding the SSW40 are still somewhat ambiguous as development is not expected to be completed until next year, a Hydra report posted on The gun blog in 2016 during the SHOT Show exhibition could give a glimpse of what the SSW40 could become in the end. The blog post noted that the Hydra featured a hydraulic buffer tube attached to the chamber and barrel and was designed to be capable of firing 10 rounds in under two seconds in a fully automatic firing mode. It was also clarified that the Hydra exhibited at the SHOT Show that year was fitted with a six-round magazine, but four- and 10-round magazines were also available.
Also, the blog mentioned that “The Hydra is backfire operated and the barrel uses non-progressive gain twist rifling. It currently has an empty weight of 9.91 [pounds]And one [overall length] 32.75 inches. It is designed for Rheinmetall-Waffen 40x46mm “magnum” cartridges, as well as all 40x46mm low-velocity cartridges. It will be carried out in the [United States]. Some possible design improvements before full production are changing the magazine safety and release, and grips made from something more durable like G10, [a popular high-pressure fiberglass laminate.]”
Rheinmetall also touts the SSW40’s recoil-reducing and self-regulating recoil system as being a significant enabler in its ability to fire all types of 40mm low-velocity (LV) ammunition available in addition to what Rheinmetall claims is its new family of 40 mm medium-velocity munitions (MV). The new MV family of ammunition includes high-explosive fragmentation, blast and anti-tank types, as well as non-lethal rounds including tear gas, door blasting, training, illumination, smoke as well as flash grenades- bong.
“The new MV munitions have a significantly increased velocity and flat trajectory, allowing targets to be engaged faster and increasing the effective range of the system to 900 meters,” reads Rheinmetall’s press release. “Combined with the wide range of Rheinmetall’s 40mm LV/MV ammunition portfolio, the infantry user achieves unprecedented flexibility and efficiency on the battlefield of the future.”
These figures differ in particular from other LV and MV 40mm launchers of this type, including multi-shot weapons such as, for example, M32A1 from Milkor USA. The M32A1 Grenade Launcher is a six shot revolver style design and has a maximum LV range of only 400 meters and a maximum MV range of 800 meters.
In terms of combat use cases, Rheinmetall says the SSW40 could provide competitive all-terrain firepower in peer-to-peer and asymmetric conflict scenarios with just a change of magazine. This likely involves the ability to aim for armored targets, then soft targets, or even use less than lethal rounds, with just the change of magazine. The addition of laser modules, fire control sights and programming systems can be added, the latter of which can be used to program air burst ammunition for pinpoint accuracy, even in cover, such as targets at range. inside open doors, windows or hiding behind blankets.
There has long been a desire to achieve this level of firepower in smaller units, prompting the development of weapons like the aforementioned M32A1, as well as the aborted XM25 25mm grenade launcher system developed for the US Army. If the SSW40 can overcome possible tangential issues that would hamper its practicality, such as carrying enough magazines to ensure enough ammunition is available, the weapon could eventually bring the idea of a highly mobile automatic grenade launcher and easy to use capable of quickly firing medium-velocity rounds across the battlefield.
Needless to say, this thing could pack some formidable squad-level firepower in a relatively familiar package. The Terminator also seems to add some bonus points, no doubt.
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