New smart grenades are weapons being developed by the U.S. military that will reduce the ability of enemy forces to conceal themselves in combat and terrorists situations. These smart grenades will seek out and destroy enemy targets hiding under cover which will find there are far fewer places to hide on the battlefield.
As reported on January 15 by Fox News, the SAGM air-bursting grenade will more than double the effectiveness of the 40-mm grenade that is presently used. The SAGM smart grenade is compatible with the grenade launchers that are presently being used by the military so it can be easily adapted for use in the field with existing weapons. This is also an advantage because it adds no more weight to the equipment a soldier must carry.
US forces frequently find themselves in urban warfare situations or open terrain littered with hiding places, and the use of conventional grenades has been a hit and miss proposition. The U.S. Army’s SAGM or Small Arms Grenade Munitions round can be fired at the location of an opponent and will detonate from a position where the enemy is exposed even if an insurgent is hidden from the direct sight of the U.S soldier. This capability is especially valuable in places like Afghanistan and other Middle East locations where insurgents often hide behind buildings, parapits, mud walls or other obstacles.
The SAGM is being developed by the U.S. Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center in New Jersey. The use of the SAGM grenade will not require any pre-programming by the soldier firing it. The grenade only needs to be aimed at a point near the intended target. No rangefinder is involved in the process. The grenade is programmed to function on its own from there. On its way to the target, the smart system scans the surroundings and identifies walls that may shield enemy soldiers. The SAGM round uses sensors and logic devices for this scan. When the ideal location is reached, the rounds detonate autonomously as an airburst. Shrapnel and the force of the blast do the rest.
The development project officer, Steven Gilbert, explained that the round will operate in three modes. He said, “Airburst after detecting defilade [concealment] is the first.” This was the main goal in the development of the round. “The default is point detonation or when it hits the target. Lastly, there is a self-destruct feature which decreases collateral damage and reduces unexploded ordnance left on the battlefield or training ranges,” he continued.
Now in its final development stage, the SAGM will undergo its final testing this summer and is expected to be deployed shortly afterward. Refinements are underway that are expected to widen the type of obstacles that can be detected, making the smart grenade even smarter. The use of the new smart weapon will help soldiers more easily deal with concealed targets and give the opponents even fewer places to hide.