The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has begun fielding its new 40 mm grenade launcher. The M320A1 is a single-fire system that can be employed as a stand-alone weapon or mounted onto another, such as the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle. The weapon system will enable Marines to engage adversaries day or night. The M320A1 is a single-shot 40-millimeter grenade launcher intended to replace the M203A2 under-barrel grenade launcher (UBGL) currently used by the Marine Corps. It is a weapon designed for the infantry fire team grenadier. The M320A1 is a single-fire system that can be employed as a stand-alone weapon or mounted onto another, such as the Marines’ M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) which based on the Heckler & Koch HK416 rifle.
The M320 is based on the earlier Heckler & Koch AG-C, but with some U.S.-specific modifications. It includes a folding foregrip and a shorter barrel for a more compact package. The sights had to be reconfigured to shoot accurately with the slightly different ballistics from the shorter barrel length. The predecessor of M320A1, M203, is a single-shot 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher designed to attach to a rifle and is not primarily intended as a stand-alone weapon. The M320 has three major parts: a grenade launcher with a rifled barrel, Day/Night Sight (DNS) produced by Insight Technology, Inc and a handheld Laser Range Finder (LRF). The Day/Night Sight allows the grenadier to effectively engage the enemy in the dark.
In the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, the M320A1 program reached Initial Operational Capability when MCSC fielded the weapon and provided New Equipment Training to Marines from II Marine Expeditionary Force aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The week began with classroom training where Marines learned to maintain and operate the system. Participants learned to assemble, dissemble and troubleshoot the weapon. Marines also participated in live-fire exercises that enabled them to configure, shoot and test various other aspects of the system.
Prior to the NET, the program office solicited assistance from MCSC’s Advanced Manufacturing Operations Cell, enabling MCSC to field the M320A1 ahead of schedule. AMOC serves as a 24/7 help desk for Marines who need assistance with 3D printing and other manufacturing solutions.manufacturing the tool traditionally would have taken more than 300 days. While the manufacturer is still required to produce the parts, the program office preferred to expedite this process to field the system more quickly. AMOC produced a 3D-printable version in just a few hours. The cell printed dozens of hammer strut tools and dummy rounds to be fielded with the grenade launcher for the system’s fielding.