MK19 Belt-fed Automatic Grenade Launcher
MK19 Belt-fed Automatic Grenade Launcher

Ukrainian Armed Forces Gets Batch of MK19 Belt-fed Automatic Grenade Launchers from US

Defense Blog reported that Ukrainian Armed Forces have received a new batch of MK19 40 mm automatic grenade launchers from the United States to help the country fend off a potential Russian invasion. The U.S. Air Force released photos showing new pallet loads of small arms ammunition, along with grenade launchers inside a Boeing 747 after it arrived at Boryspil International Airport. According to the number of “black pallets” in the photos taken during the loading of the plane, which was made public by the US military, it can be concluded that only on January 28 several hundred Mk19 grenade launchers were delivered to Ukraine.

The Mk 19 grenade launcher (pronounced Mark 19) is an American 40 mm belt-fed automatic grenade launcher that was first developed during the Vietnam War. The Mk19 MOD 3 variant was adopted by the U.S. Army in 1983 and remains in service to the present day. General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems produces the MK19 MOD 3 40mm grenade machine gun, an air-cooled, blow-back operated, belt-fed weapon. Highly portable within small soldier units, the weapon’s high lethality and broad versatility make it the prime choice of U.S. warfighters as an essential weapon in both offensive and defensive operations. As part of General Dynamics’ standard 40mm machine gun offering, product improvements include a set of four enhanced internal parts for increased durability and reliability.

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Pallets of ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine are processed through the 436th Aerial Port Squadron during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 27, 2022.
Pallets of ammunition, weapons and other equipment bound for Ukraine are processed through the 436th Aerial Port Squadron during a foreign military sales mission at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, Jan. 27, 2022.(U.S. Air Force photo by Mauricio Campino)

The U.S. Army currently uses the MK19 within the tactical environment for defense, retrograde, patrolling, rear area security, urban operations, and special operations. The MK19 is a reliable, portable 40mm grenade weapon system suited for light infantry vehicles and tripod applications. Firing M430A1 High Explosive Dual Purpose grenades, the MK19 provides lethal fire against a variety of targets, including lightly armored vehicles and dismounted infantry. It will penetrate 75mm rolled homogenous armor at a maximum range of 2,050 meters. Dismounted personnel within a radius of 15 meters from impact will be immobilized by blast and fragmentation.

In November 2014, General Dynamics entered into an agreement with Advanced Material Engineering Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Kinetics, to manufacture 40 mm high-velocity airburst ammunition for the U.S. military. The 40 mm airburst grenade uses a programmable, time-based fuse that computes and programs the detonation time into it, which counts down once fired to zero to detonate at the intended target point. The airburst ammunition is compatible with the Mk 19, which would give it greater effectiveness and lethality, particularly against concealed and defilade targets. The U.S. Army plans to introduce several new features to the Mk 19 in an upgrade package that could be introduced by late 2017.

MK19 Belt-fed Automatic Grenade Launcher
A Soldier assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) fires a MK 19 automatic grenade launcher during a training exercise at Camp McGregor, New Mexico March 26, 2020. The training exercise focused on enhancing a wide variety of skillsets for the participating Green Berets and Soldiers such as weapons training and medical training to prepare them for future operations. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Steven Lewis)

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