The following is an excerpt of an article scheduled to appear in a forthcoming issue of the Small Arms Defence Journal (Vol.6 No.1), which examines the contenders for the Australian Defence Force’s LWAGL requirement. The complete article is over 3000 words in length, and discusses the grenade launchers, ammunition, and fire control systems of each of the contenders in detail. In the course of writing this article, I had the opportunity to live fire the MK47 Mod 0 system, and to learn the operation of the HK GMG E with Vingmate FCS system with the use of a simulator.
Under Land 40 Phase 2 (L40/2), the Australian Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) have a stated intention to deliver two new direct fire support weapons to the Army’s infantry battalions and special operations forces, and to the Royal Australian Air Force’s Airfield Defence Guards. The first, the Medium Direct Fire Support Weapon (MDFSW), has already been selected and fielded, with the M3 Carl Gustav 84mm recoilless rifle replacing the M2 variant previously in service. The second system, slated to be a “Light Weight Automatic Grenade Launcher (LWAGL) fitted with a night sight and a fire control system”, has yet to be selected.
The L40/2 program has been the subject of some controversy, with the original tender having closed in October 2007 and no systems having been introduced to date. Two contending systems were shortlisted for trials in 2008. The first pairs the Heckler & Koch Grenade Machine Gun (GMG E) with the Vingmate Fire Control System (FCS) and Softmount Combi from Vinghøg AS of Norway (now part of Rheinmetall Defence), and two different 40 x 53 mm Air Burst Munitions (ABM) from Rheinmetall Defence. The second contender is the General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP) MK47 Mod 0 system (also known as the STRIKER40), outfitted with the AN/PVG-1 Lightweight Video Sight (LVS) developed by Raytheon and optimised for the MK285 Programmable Pre-fragmented High Explosive (PPHE) 40 x 53 mm round, developed by Nammo AS of Norway.
Contender 1: Heckler & Koch GMG E with Vinghøg Vingmate Fire Control System (FCS) and Softmount Combi mount, and Rheinmetall Defence 40 x 53 mm Air Burst Munitions (ABM).
GMG E & Vingmate FCS
Weight (gun): 29.0kg
Weight (Vingmate FCS): 5.8kg
Barrel Length: 577m
Operating Principle: blowback operated (advanced primer ignition); fires from an open bolt
Feed Mechanism: belt feed (left or right side)
Max Effective Range: 2000m (point target)
Rate of Fire: 340 rounds per minute (cyclic)
Sight Features: colour, airburst programming (external, coil, and inductive), 4.5x, 2.2x and 1.1x magnification (digital), store up to 16 targets (direct fire), modular upgradeable system, external video output and image capture.
In Service: 2009 – present
Contender 2: General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GDATP) MK47 Mod 0 system, with Raytheon AN/PVG-1 Lightweight Video Sight (LVS) and Nammo MK285 Programmable Pre-fragmented High Explosive (PPHE) 40 x 53 mm rounds.
MK47 Mod 0 & LVS
Weight (gun): 18.0kg
Weight (LVS): Unknown
Barrel Length: 610mm
Operating Principle: short recoil operated; fires from a closed bolt
Feed Mechanism: belt feed (left side)
Max Effective Range: at least 1500m+ (point target)
Rate of Fire: 225 – 300 rounds per minute (cyclic)
Sight Features: black & white, airburst programming (internal), 3.0x magnification (digital), store up to 8 targets (direct fire), non-modular system, no external video output or image capture.
In Service: 2004 – present (system)