Since the Vietnam War, soldiers and infantrymen have been equipped with the effective but dated M67 fragmentation grenade. The hand-held explosive has proven itself time and time again as a weapon well-suited to killing enemies in close-quarter combat or confined to small spaces.
But the technology the M67 uses has been around since it replaced the MK II pineapple grenade in 1968, and it hasn't been upgraded all that much since. But according to an announcement from the U.S. Army, work has begun to develop what would be the first new lethal hand grenade for U.S. troops in more than 40 years.
The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose grenade, or ET-MP, improves on the M67 in a few key ways. The device contains two features in one, with users having the ability to choose between two settings, allowing it to function as either a concussive device or fragmentation explosive with the flip of a lever.
According to New Atlas:
Though many people think of grenades as little green pineapples with pins sticking out of them, there are actually many different types for many different jobs. There are incendiary grenades for destroying equipment, gas grenades for crowd control, smoke grenades, stun grenades, anti-tank grenades, and even illumination grenades to cast a bit of light on the subject.
The two main lethal types carried by foot soldiers are concussion and fragmentation grenades.
Concussion grenades are listed as "offensive" because they kill by means of blast. They have a small danger radius, so soldiers can use them while advancing in the open without fear of being caught in the blast wave.
Fragmentation grenades, on the other hand, are "defensive." In addition to a high-explosive charge, the fragmentation grenade has a sleeve filled with ball bearings or is wrapped in wire or a metal casing that shatters into lethal bits on detonation. These typically have a danger radius of 15 m (49 ft), so soldiers have to be behind cover when using them.
The ET-MP will also be safer for the soldier throwing it, as it replaces the M67's mechanical fuse with a more advanced electronic fuse that can be timed to detonate with extreme precision and sustains a higher level of reliability over time.
Another key feature is that unlike the M67's right-handed design which required lefties to flip the grenade upside down operate the pin and safety lever, the ET-MP will have an ambidextrous design to accommodate soldiers using either arm.
Although it's currently in the design stage, Motherboard reports that the Pentagon has committed $1.1 million to the project for the 2017 fiscal year.
We don't know what the fate of the project will be, but the added safety and versatility that the ET-MP could give soldiers could be well worth the wait.