'Automatic Grenade Launchers' is a new Weapons and Markets Research Note describing the technical features of this light weapon system, and giving a brief history of its use and development.
The automatic grenade launcher (AGL), which launches a medium-calibre explosive projectile at relatively low velocities on automatic fire, is common in military inventories worldwide. In addition to legitimate military forces, AGL systems have been documented in service with numerous non-state armed groups, including groups in Chad, Libya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine.
Most AGLs are crew-served weapons, often employed from fixed or semi-fixed positions or vehicles. Several models, however, are man-portable, designed for use by one soldier.AGL projectiles, while commonly called 'grenades', differ significantly from hand grenades and rifle grenades in that they use a centrefire cartridge consisting of primer, propellant, and projectile, much like typical small-calibre ammunition.
An early rapid-fire grenade launcher system, the MK 18 Mod 0, which was operated manually using a hand-crank and was thus not strictly an AGL system, was used by US troops in Vietnam as early as 1965.
Recent technological developments have included advanced fire control systems—allowing greater accuracy and reducing chances of collateral damage—and airburst munitions capability—whereby the munitions can be programmed to detonate precisely above or next to the target.
- Download Research Note 48 Automatic Grenade Launchers
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