US soldiers will get improved grenade in 2020 and 35% lighter body armor

The Army‘s Top modernization programs in 2016 range from a new hand grenade designed to be easier for lefthanders to throw to hydrogen-powered vehicles

Improvements soldiers can look forward to include:

* Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade. Engineers at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey are developing an “ambidextrous” Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade that can be thrown more easily with either hand. The current M67 grenades require different arming procedures for left-handed users.

Matthew Hall, the Grenades Tech Base development lead, said the transition to the new grenades is expected to take place in fiscal 2020.

* A new, lighter ballistic shirt. In designing the shirt, “We set out with this science and technology effort to meet the needs of high-performance athletes, which is what soldiers are,” said Robert DiLalla, team leader of the Infantry Combat Equipment Team at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center.

The shirt weighs 35 percent less than the current interceptor body armor system components it will replace. In tests, “The soldiers have spoken loud and clear with more than 90 percent user acceptance in multiple user evaluations,” DiLalla said. The new shirts are expected to be ready in 2019.

The current body armor is 31 pounds in size medium when it equipped with front, back and side armor plates. The Army also issues the Soldier Plate Carrier System, a more stream-lined system designed to lighten the soldiers’ load, especially during fast-paced dismounted combat operations. It averages just under 22 pounds with front, back and side armor plates. The goal of the SPS is to shave off 8 to 14 percent of the weight, Hoffman said, so at the most it would weigh about 4.3 pounds lighter than the average IOTV’s 31-pound weight. 35% weight reduction would be 12 pounds less.

* 30MM cannon for Stryker Vehicles. The first prototype of an M1126 Stryker mounted with a 30mm cannon was delivered to the Army in October.

* Longer Range Howitzers. Picatinny Arsenal engineers have been working to double the range of the M777A2 howitzer. The M777A2 can shoot about 30 kilometers, but once all of the upgrades are complete, it will be able to shoot about 70 kilometers.

* New Tourniquet. The Army began fielding the new “junctional” tourniquet, which can be used to stop hemorrhaging in the torso, rather than limbs.