Rheinmetall, a German defense company, has unveiled a handheld grenade launcher called the Squad Support Weapon 40 (SSW40), which weighs and can be used like a regular assault rifle, according to a press release.
In today''s day and age, when drones are being launched like grenades, one might wonder if the launchers themselves have reached the end of the road in terms of their evolution. While drones are becoming smaller and warfare becomes more electronic, the focus may have shifted to developing other technologies rapidly. However, Rheinmetall continues to work on combat weapons, and the SSW40 is a proof of the progress they have made.
The difference between an assault rifle and a grenade launcher
This type of pistol is intended to shoot intermediate cartridges, and since the use of these cartridges reduces the recoil, it makes the rifle easier to operate. Assault rifles are often detachable magazines, which they have become the standard weapon of most army worldwide, reposing battle rifles.
A grenade launcher is used to shoot high-caliber prototypes with specially designed warheads. In the past, a specially trained crew required them to operate them and fitted on armored combat vehicles. Over the years, the launchers became smaller so they could be fired off a soldier''s shoulder.
Rhinmetall is able to make the grenade launcher even smaller and easier to operate while posing a more substantial punch in a smaller weapon.
The SSW40 grenade launcher
Rhinemetall claims to have reduced the recoil of the weapon and that it employs a self-regulating recoil system to fire any 40 mm low velocity (LV) ammunition types in its press release.
The SSW40 is still a shoulder-fired grenade launcher, but it uses a magazine to reload the grenades, which resembles an assault rifle. Interestingly, the company claims that this is the ''world''s first automatic'' grenade launcher, which would result in the weapon going to continue to fire grenades until the trigger is released or the magazine is empty.
This includes ammunition that can reach about 3,000 feet (900 m) and is capable of carrying armor or an airburst. The SSW40 also includes medium velocity (MV) ammunition developed by Rheinmetall. The press release added that this includes warheads with the capabilities of creating illumination/ fog, sound, and flash, door breaching, anti-tank, and high explosive fragmentation.
Rheinmetall is confident that these ammunition will be available by 2023, and the SSW40 will be effective even against medium-weight armored vehicles. In the event of an asymmetric conflict, the magazine on the weapon may be quickly changed and used as well for a near-peer conflict.
The SSW40 is designed to include additional features, such as laser light modules, fire control sights, and infrared programmers for aerial ammunition.