We’ve mentioned the Mk19 40mm grenade launcher before, and I’m sure there’s a couple of youtube vids here about it. The Mk19 is a handy weapon for suppressive fires against troops in the open. It’s like throwing dozens of hand grenades at the enemy, out to a mile distant.
But as handy as it is, it is a big, heavy weapon. Secondly, it is old. It was developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As such, it is not equipped to take advantage of advances in fuze design for 40mm projectiles.
Enter the M47 grenade launcher. This weapon is capable of delivering the same 40mm fires out to the same ranges as thMk19. But it also is able to take advantage of new electronics to provide an advanced sighting system, and an explosive airburst over the selected target.
The sights on the Mk19 are simple iron sights, and the fire control system consists of the shooter lining up the sights the old fashioned way.
The XM47 is a bit more high tech. Using what they call the “Lightweight Video Sight” the crew can see in day or night, and use a built in laser rangefinder to increase first round hit probability. In addition, the rangefinder also feeds a fuze setter on the weapon. The XM47 can fire a new generation of 40mm grenades that burst directly over the target, showering them with fragments. This makes it harder for the enemy to take cover behind walls or in ditches or such. The Mk19 can’t take advantage of such modern rounds. The XM47 can also fire all the older style ammo the Mk19 fires.
The only real drawback to the new ammo is the cost (at about $213 a round!). That’s about $12,000 for a can of ammo. Given that the Mk19 weapon only costs about $10,000, you can see where shooting the new stuff gets expensive quick. On the other hand, if you shoot 10 cans of ammo at about $125,000 and minimize US casualties by one trooper, you’ve still come out ahead by a ton of money.
The XM47 is in service with some special forces units in theater, but no decision has been made to replace existing Mk19s in most units.
I haven’t found a good XM47 video yet, but here’s a Mk19 in action.