27 March 2015

FWS News Feed: The FOREVER WAR Graphic Novel Vol: 2!

The first real blogpost on FWS was wayback in 2010 with a review of 1988 Marvano The Forever War Graphic Novel Volume One. My goal was always to buy all three and write a Forgotten Classics blog article on this long forgotten pieces of military science fiction.While I was able to get my hands on Volume 1 and 3 easily from Lone Star Comics and  Mile High Comics respectfully, Volume 2 eluded me. It was either way too expensive or simply too rare for me to complete the collection. I had given hope to ever own Volume 2 in the same format as my Volume 1 and 3. Then was contacted by FWS reader Ted Boudreaux about buying his extra Volume 2 for a very reasonable price and I jumped at the chance! Today, Volume 2 arrive in the mail (and read immediately), by next month, there will finally be a full Forgotten Classics blog article on all three The Forever War graphic novels!  

22 March 2015

FWS Armory: Grenade Launchers, Rocket Launchers, and RPGs


Flexibility has always been a goal on the battlefield, especially with weapons. Tactical flexible weapons that allow the soldier to adapt and kill their enemy in any situation is the ultimate goal of any weapon systems, and grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and RPGs are all tools of the soldier to be more tactically flexibility on the modern battlefield. These weapon systems the mainstay of video game warfare, action films heroes and villains, and the tool of revolution and insurrection. While these are popular weapons in mass media, the difference between the grenade launcher, the rocket launcher, and the RPG is poorly understood. In this Armory blog article, FWS will sorting out the differences and FWS would like to extend a big 'thank you' to reader and FWS friend Yoel for his valuable assistance, insight, and information into the world of grenade launchers and RPGs. Without him, this blog article would not have happened.

What is an RPG?
Rocket Propelled Grenades or RPG are a very popular form of infantry-based heavier fire support, especially in low-intensity conflicts and guerrilla forces. Originally, the RPG was developed to be anti-tank weapon systems that could be carried into battle by an soldier with easy-of-use. The most iconic RPG, and the one that gave birth to the name was the Soviet Red Army RPG-7. This RPG has been used the world over by both sides in these conflicts. Due to the advancement of armor technology, the RPG-7 has been deemed ineffective against modern tanks, but it has found a role on the modern battlefield taking down buildings, vehicles, and even helicopters. What separates the RPG from the rocket launcher? Mostly explosive payload. The rocket launchers on this blog article are heavier, more modern anti-tank rocket launchers or devoted anti-air launcher systems, while the RPG is more of a general use weapon systems with greater ranger than the traditional grenade launchers.

What is an Grenade Launcher?
Grenade launchers are a form of portable firepower available to infantry units, allowing them augment the basic assault rifle. Unlike the RPG, the grenade launcher uses an High-Low propulsion launching system to reduce the recoil and are effective in the 400 meters range. These can be a stand alone system like the M79 or be an multi-launcher, like the MGL, or even the most popular form, the underslung single-grenade launcher. The most used and famous of the assault rifle underslung grenade launchers is the M203 40x46mm.

What is an Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL)?

The AGL is the heavy machine gun variant of the grenade launcher world. These are offensive support fire weapon system that is often mounted on vehicle, aircraft, but can be used as a stand-alone system. These are a devastating weapon system that can lay down a massive amount of fire in only a few short bursts of 40 mike-mike. Most AGLs, like the US Army Mk.19 40x53mm, are fully automatic, firing over 300 grenades-a-minute, and are belt-fed from a box-magazine. While the AGL has been around for some time, the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown the effectiveness of the AGL, especially when mounted to a military light utility vehicle. Some sources call an AGL an "grenade machine gun".

What are Rocket Launchers?

Unlike grenade launcher or RPGs, the heavier man-portable rocket launcher was designed to counter the modern armor of main battle tanks or aircraft. Often these rocket launchers feature user operated guidance systems, like the TOW or on-board computer guidance system that allow fire-and-forget operation. These have rocket engine propelled munitions with heavier explosive payloads or unique constructed explosive packages to counter the defenses of their target, like the Top-Attack Javelin or the Swedish BILL missle.

What is the Difference between the RPG and the Rocket Launcher
So, what is the difference between the RPGs and the Rocket Launcher? I asked Yoel this question, and here was his response: "I believe the main different between RPG and 'true' rocket launcher is the method of propulsion.The early RPG shells contain grenade, propellant & counter-mass.When ignited the propellant eject both the grenade and counter-mass to opposite directions. The purpose of the launcher was to contain and channel the blast to the two directions. Current RPG shells contain grenade, ROCKET BOOSTER, propellant & counter-mass. 
When ignited the propellant eject both the grenade + rocket booster and counter-mass to opposite directions. Again, the purpose of the launcher is to contain and channel the blast.
When the combined grenade + rocket booster launched to a safe distance from the shooter the booster ignite and propel the grenade. In the AT4 there's no rocket engine, I think the 'shell' is similar to the early RPG shells. 'True' rocket launchers (If I need to categorize them) use only rocket engine. Most of the man held rocket launchers have rockets with engine that run out BEFORE the rocket leave the tube, that mean the rest of the flight to target the warhead is unpropelled. One exception to that role is the German Raketenpanzerb├╝chse 43 or better known as Ofenrohr. The rocket engine continues running after leaving the tube so the launcher have blast plate located in front of the shooter."

The Launching Platforms of Grenades and Rockets

Hand Grenade Rifle Launching and Grenade Discharger 
The two earliest method to propel a grenade beside the hand was using rifle gun powder gases and the "knee mortar". Early designs used regular hand grenades that were placed inside a "cup" mounted on the end of the barrel, the safety pin removed but the grenade lever held against the cup inner wall that did not swing and the primer didn’t ignited.The rifle then been loaded with blanks cartridges, upon firing the gun powder burned gases propelled the grenade out of the cup, the lever released and swing, the primer ignited and the ticking grenade is on its way to the target. While allowing the infantry greater power on the battlefield, the design increased the gun weight and the cup usually blocked the rifle line of sight, in additional carrying live bomb on the tip of your rifle isn’t the recipe for a long life. The knee mortar was a method of launching of specially designed hand grenades. During the 2nd World War, the Imperial Japanese used the Type-10 Grenade Discharger and even during World War One, trench-bound infantry developed homebrew launcher systems. Of course, these fell out of use and development when muzzle-fired grenades were developed, lighting the load on soldiers from carrying knee mortars.       

Rifle Grenade (Muzzle-Fired) Launching
The next step in the evolution of rifle launching was grenades designed especially for being fired from an rifle. Those grenades shaped more aerodynamic, with either rod to insert to barrel or sleeve around the barrel to attach the grenade the gun and with a fuse triggered after the launching.Those grenades have better range, safer to use, easy to load/unload from the gun.It's commonly used to launch those grenades with blanks cartridges but the more modern grenades have a 'bullet trap' in the rear side, allowing the grenade launch using regular ammo.Those grenades speed up the loading and unloading of the grenade from the gun 'restoring' the rifle to its main purpose, but in the battle field where every second countess that maybe too slowly. These are being replaced in favor of the underslung grenade launchers, however, weapons like the French FAMAS and the Israeli Galil both fire rifle grenades. Why are these no longer popular? Rifle grenades require specialized blank ammunition to launch them, and soldiers have to swap out magazine to fire the rifle grenades then fire their Galil or FAMAS. Then there is the space issue. Rifle grenades are less compact and more awkward shape than the 40mm grenades for the M203 or M320. It is believed that rifle grenades will phased out of existence after weapons like the FAMAS are replaced with assault rifles that utilize the underslung GLs.  

Standalone Grenade Launcher
After the 2nd World War and Korea, a truly separate launching platform was developed to fire newly designed "grenade bullets", like the NATO 40x46mm grenade. Theses cartridges contained grenade, its propellant all as a single unit.
The oversized bullets are launched from the grenade launcher like regular (but very slow) bullets.
The first & common launchers were single shot launcher, like the iconic M79 Thumper or Blooper of the Vietnam War. The operators of the M79 were armed with Colt .45ACP, for personal defense, and even sported these unique vests to carry the 40mm grenades. During the Vietnam War, the M203 underslung grenade launcher was developed and it was clear thaOver the years a few more launcher configurations added: tubular magazine pump-action (the China Lake), revolver-like drums ( the , rectangular detachable magazine (the XM25) and even the handheld from the now-defunct Metalstorm grenade launcher system or the USMC XM32A1

The Underslung Grenade launcher Secondary Weapon System
With the invention of standalone grenade launcher system meant that a soldier had carry two separate weapons (rifle and grenade launcher) and simply swap the gun according to tactical situation. In some situations, the operator wasn’t fast enough, and it could have fatal results. During Vietnam, soldiers that were assigned the M79 Thumper carried the M1911 .45ACP pistol for defensive purposes. The other soldiers in their unit were tasked with protecting the M79 operator. That wasn't always possible.
The next logical step was to design an attachment that mounted under the barrel of the assault rifle for the purpose of launching grenades. That came to reality in 1969 with the XM203 that was constructed on the XM148 grenade launcher for the Colt AR15. The attach launcher usually have its own trigger mechanism & safety and fired "grenade bullets" from the other barrel and these grenades were normally in the 40mm range. Most of those launchers are single shot but some, like experimental micro-launcher mounted to the XM29 OICW & the Metalstorm AICW were multi-shot. The replace to the legendary M203, the M320 shows the future of underslung secondary GLs, side-opening breeches and modularity.  

Belt-Fed Automatic Grenade Launcher Platforms
If you combine a grenade launcher and a machinegun what do you get? A cool auto mortar that fucks up shit on a Biblical level! Basically, Automatic Grenade Launchers (AGLs) are belt fed machine gun that fed from an ammo metal box , where the bullets are 40x46mm grenades and they can be fired at over 300 grenades-per-minute. These grenade machine guns are normally mounted to light military utility vehicles or even armored vehicles and fed from large metal OD ammo boxes that hold 32 40x53mm grenades. These are highly effective in all tactical environments and against most land-based ground combat targets. There have even been tests of 40mm AGLs against tanks. While the 40mm grenades cannot penetrate the armor, and it can damage the secondary weapons and anything else exposed, and can force a MBT to withdraw.

Recoilless Grenade Launchers
Newton first law is a bitch! For every action there's equal reaction in the opposite direction.
If you launch an heavy grenade,  he recoil could toss the soldier to the ground. To reduce this violent recoil, a launcher system was developed to propel a grenade forward with a counter mass backward. Those launchers are smoothbore tube, open from both sides with trigger mechanism & sights/optics. The projectile contains the grenade, counter-mass & propellant and fed to the launcher from the tube front opening (muzzle) or from the rear. Most modern projectile's propellant contains a rocket booster for range extension. A small amount of gunpowder propel the grenade and rocket a few meters to a safe distance and then the rocket booster ignites (see detailed expansion about the meaning of the word RPG). 

Shotguns
One of the more rare and interesting launching platforms for grenades is the shotgun. The insane fully automatic 12 gauge shotgun, the AA-12 is able to fire Frag-12 fin-stabilized micro-grenades. The AA-12's Frag-12 has three warhead types and can fly out to 175 meters. 20 of these badboys can be fired into an indoor target through a window in the span of four seconds. With the fragmentation warhead, each Frag-12 would kill within nine feet, killing any and all inside the structure as was demonstrated by Discovery Channel's Future Weapons.  

The Over-the-Shoulder Launcher
With over-the-shoulder rocket or grenade launchers, the human body is the platform for the weapons. These are very familiar rocket/grenade launchers like the old Soviet RPG-7, the USA M72 LAW and the current AT4 rocket launcher. These were, at one time, the anti-tank weapon-of-choice for the infantry. However, technology outpaced these weapons, and soldiers used them for personnel heavy fire support or knocking out targets in buildings or even vehicles. As we have seen in Mogadishu and Afghanistan, the old Eastern Bloc RPG-7 launcher has even been used for taking down helicopters. Some over-the-shoulder rocket launchers are disposable after their use, like the M72 LAW, while others, like the RPG-7, are reusable.

Launcher Platforms
Some of the heavier rocket launchers that are mostly designed for taking out modern Main Battle Tanks cannot use the human body as the platform for launching. Instead, launchers like the MILAN wire-guided rocket launcher are more labor intensive than whipping out an M72 LAW off of your back. These can be mounted to vehicles, like British Army Land Rovers or be set up by anti-tank crews on the ground after launcher has been hauled into battle by an truck. These are often reloadable and feature more technology to knock down moving armored targets. While these are still part of the matrix of land based combat, the high point of these large anti-tank rocket launchers was the 1980s during the Cold War between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

Examples of RPGs

The RPG-7

This is iconic and legendary and infamous weapon system that give birth to the name "rocket propelled grenade". This Soviet Union Red Army weapon system was developed in 1961 for the purpose of anti-tank operations and fires an number of different unguided warheads. The RPG-7 launches the rocket via a gunpowder booster charge then the rocket motor fires at 10 meter from the launcher at a range of 920 meters at a speed of 295 meters-per-second. Most of the time in real combat situations, the RPG-7 is not used beyond 300. Most use the RPG-7 at 80 meters. This is due to accuracy. At 50 meters, the RPG-7 is 100%, while at 300 meters, it drops to 22%. Part of this is due to the rocket being effected by wind and lack of training of user. The RPG-7, like the AKM, is one of the world's most popular weapon systems, with over 9 million units. Over 40 nation use the RPG-7 and it is a favorite of guerrillas and irregular forces due to the low cost, availability, and effectiveness. 


The M72 LAW
The M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon is a lightweight developed in 1963 and fired an 66mm HEAT rocket. It was designed around the concept of a soldier being able to take down an tank with a simple anti-tank weapon systems that was lightweight and very portable. The M72 LAW could be carried on the back of soldiers in the field, was prepacked and watertight. When needed, the M72 was pulled from both ends and the sights popped up and was then readied to be fired. While their effectiveness was limited, they were a great portable heavy firepower and still used on the battlefield today. Used LAW RPGs were sold at some Army & Navy and one of my brother's friends had one...it was very cool and surprising lightweight with a funky plastic soft trigger-button.

The M16 RAW
One of the lesser known M16 attachments was the Rifleman's Assault Weapon or RAW. This was baseball shaped rocket propelled grenade that was developed in 1977 and saw limited use in the Marines until it was discounted in the 1990's. It was launched via an normal 5.56mm round and could be fired indoors. This was an oddball launcher system  nicknamed "the softball from hell" that was mounted to the front of the M16 and was packed with three pounds of High Explosive that could be used against buildings and light armored vehicles. It was considered a tool of urban warfare, but it was never issued in any large numbers.  I am not even sure if the RAW was ever used in combat, and why it was canceled was due to the size of the launcher itself, the size of shaperical grenades, and the military changing their minds about what weapon systems they wanted. I learned about this weapon from an Jane's book on land combat that my brother had. One of the oddest things about the RAW was who it was made by: Brunswick Corporation. Brunswick Corporation is mostly known for making items for the  bowling industry.

Examples of Grenade Launchers

The XM25 CDTE
One of the newest grenade launchers was praised as being one of the most deadly tools of modern infantry combat, the XM25 CDTE "Punisher". The XM25 was the phoenix project that came out of the cancelled HK XM29 OICW, using the computer controlled airbursting 25x40mm grenades. The hyper for the XM25 was high and it was featured into some of the biggest military shooters, The $35,000-per-unit XM25 proved itself with battlefield testing with the a deployment to A-Stan. Soldiers loved it and found it to be extremely lethal. Based on that, the US Army moved forward with adopting the XM25 in the fold. During a 2013 misfiring of the hand-built 25mm grenade that injured a soldier, a delay was placed the Punisher. While some soldiers loved it, others hated it due to the weight and one soldier had to act as an grenadier, and leaving their M4 back at base. Also, the 25mm were $55 a grenade. In 2014, funding for the deployment of XM25s into the US Army was cut.

The M203 40mm
The familiar M203 40x46mm underslung grenade launcher was developed in 1969, however, the progenitor was the XM148 from 1964. Based on field tests in Vietnam, the XM148 lead to the developed of the M203 that was the replacement to the M79 standalone grenade launcher. The M203 slide breech loading weights in at three pounds unloaded with an effective range at 150 meters. Its purpose was to reach enemy soldiers in space that bullets could not get to, but it became the blueprint for underslung grenade launchers. Originally, the M203 was attached to the M16 via a very cool looking clamshell, today, the M203A2 is fitting via a rail system and is shorter. The global popularity of the M203 launcher speaks to its success, with the M203 being mounted on the H&K G3, the Steyr AUG, and the Israeli Trevor.

The M320
In 2004, the US Army put out for bids for a replacement to the ventable M203. In 2006, Heckler & Koch was awarded the contract, and the XM320 was born. Today, the M320 is replacing the M203 and uses the same 40x46mm grenades as the M79, Mk. 19, and the M203. The M320 improves upon the design of the M203 with a better safety, a handgrip, side loading, and it is good for right or left handed shooters. Like the FN EGLM, the M320 has a standalone grenade launcher.

The FN EGLM
While the M203 and its replacement, the HK M320 dominate the marketplace, FN is also advancing the underslung 40mm grenade launcher with the EGLM.  Unlike the M203 and M320, the trigger is mounted under the trigger of the assault rifle, and the trigger can be fired with the middle finger. While its performance is similar to the M203 and M320, the FN EGLM is certainly more stylish than those others.

The GP-25 and GP-34
Developed in the mid-1970's for the AKM's replacement, the AK74, the GP25 is similar to the American M203. Unlike the M203, the GP25 has a handgrip, some hand space between the magazine and the grenade launcher, and it loads from the muzzle, not a breech. the first combat use of the GP series of grenade launcher was in Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan. It fires the 40mm caseless grenade. While the GP series is the standard issue GL for the AK series of assault rifle, some AKs have been seen with the M203.  

The M79
Here it is, the father of the underslung grenade launcher, the Springfield Armory M79 "Blooper" or "Thumper" 40x46mm grenade launcher. This was developed 1961 to replace rifle grenades and served with great effectiveness in the intense combat of the Vietnam War. The M79 is a simple weapon system that has an overall appear of an shotgun, but loads the 40mm grenade from a break-open design. An flip-up iron sight was installed on the front of the barrel. While an success, it was replaced by the M203 due to the need of the user of the M79 to carry another weapon for personal defense, like an pistol or even an submachine gun. Most M79 grenadiers in Vietnam carried the Colt M1911 .45ACP pistol or the M3 Grease Gun.
The story of the M79 does not end there. It was continued to be used by law enforcement, other nations, and most recently, NAVSPECWAR. While the M203/M320 40mm underslung GL has replaced the M79, Navy SEALs on the streets of Iraq have been photographed carrying M79s into battle. Some of these are the classic M79, and others are the newer cutdown "pirate gun" design that chops the M79 down to newly pocket size. This weapon was mention in the DEVGRU book No Easy Day. Why does the SEALs still use the M79? Range. The M79 has a greater effective range than the M203.

The Metal Storm AICW
The Metal Storm Advanced Individual Combat Weapon fused an F88 (AUG) Steyr bullpup assault rifle with an 40mm top-mounted grenade launcher that fed from a three grenade stack. The 5.56mm and 40mm weapon systems were both operated from a single trigger. This is similar in design to the XM29 OICW system, and was an interesting design that provide that top mounted grenade launcher was less mechanical complex and lighter than the M203. The AICW was a testbed program and since folding of Metal Storm, it appears that the AICW will remain an interesting "what if" weapon system.

The China Lake 


The Call of Duty: Black Ops video game gave most gamers quite the education on unusual Vietnam-era weaponry. One was the awesome and very rare China Lake grenade launcher. Three-in-the-tube, one in the chamber, the Navy SEAL China Lake pump-action grenade launcher is the more badass brother of the M79 Thumper. This was named for the China Lake Naval Weapons Center and this pumpable GL was developed for the Navy SEALs of Vietnam. Only 16 were built and four now remain in museums. Unlike the M79, the China Lake fires 40x46mm grenades from a tubular magazine and is able to four not a single grenade, allowing for rapid heavy firepower on-target. So why didn't the China Lake replace the M79? One was the reduction of US forces in Vietnam leading to costly and unneeded projects being cancelled, like the China Lake. Another was the XM203 that allowed a grenadier to use the M16 and the GL in the same weapon platform and not having to switch. Then there is cost and complexity. The China Lake was expensive and more complex than the M79. This complexity led to feeding issues of the grenades.

Examples of AGLs

The Mark-19 40mm AGL
The Mark-19 automatic grenade launcher is one of the most deadly weapons of land warfare and it is the icon of the AGL. Developed during the Vietnam War to fire 40x46mm grenades, but it was replaced with 40x53mm grenades. Today, the HE warhead has been replaced with the HEDP. The Mark-19 can fire 40mm at a rate of 375 RPMs and can be mounted on vehicles, on a tripod, patrol boats, and naval ships. The Mk. 19 has proven itself on the battlefields of A-Stan and Iraq. The Mk.19 will be replaced by the Mk.47 in a few more years.

The Mark-47 Striker 40mm AGL
The Striker Mk. 47 AGL was put into service with the US military in 2006 as a  replacement for the aging Mk. 19. This grenade machine gun. fires the 40x53mm grenades like the Mk.19, but unlike the ventable AGL, the newer Mk. 47 can fire programmable airburst grenades at a rate of 300+ grenades-per-minute. This AGL was designed by the Naval Surface Warfare center, Crane Division and built by GM.





The H&K GMG 40mm AGL
GMG means "grenade machine gun" in German and is the HK answer to the Mk.19 AGL. This was developed in 1992 for the German Army and has seen attack in Afghanistan. Much like most AGLs, the GMG fires 40x53 high velocity grenades and feds from an ammo box with burst or fully automatic fire. The GMG fires at a rate of 330 grenades-per-minute with an max range of 2,200 meters and weights in at 29lbs.




The XM307 40mm AGL
The XM307 Advanced Crew Served Weapon was developed in 2004 to fire the 25x59mm grenades with all manner of warheads, including airbursting. It was believed that this more advanced AGL would replace the Mark-19, but sadly the XM307 was cancelled along with the 12.7mm XM312 HMG. The XM307 project was cancelled in 2007 for technical issues with the low rate-of-fire from the prototypes.  
Munition Types

High Explosive Air Burst (HEAB)
Much of the grenade launchers use the High Explosive warheads or the newer High Explosive Dual Purpose, but there is a new load on the horizon: airbursting with intelligent fuses. The HEAB is able to hit targets that are behind cover by the kill radius being above their heads. Most recent advanced GLs have been designed to fire HEAB grenades, like the XM29 and XM307.









High Explosive Dual Purpose (HEDP)
One of the most common 40mm grenade warhead load is the dual-use HEDP. This uses an impact high explosive and shrapnel to attack infantry and light armored targets. The HEDP as an five-meter kill radius and can punch through 2 inches of armor as well. 










Buckshot Round
This is the scaled-down version of the artillery anti-personnel "grapeshot" round that transforms the 40mm grenade launcher into a shotgun for close encounters. This grenade is packed with 20 metal pellets and operates well in the 40 meter range. This round was developed for the M79 and was used in Vietnam for both killing infantry, but also for clearing back vegetation. This round does have a psychological factor as well.










High Velocity Canister Cartridge (HVCC)
General Dynamic developed the HVCC 40x46mm grenade for the Mark-19 AGL platform. These grenades are packed with over 100 flechette darts and the HVCC is designed to cover an area of 100x133 cms at a distance of 50 meters. This was designed to an anti-personnel round that could allow the user to defend infantry wearing body armor in a offensive and defensive situation. This is a nasty round that could unleash some hurt. 










Practice and Dummy Rounds
Practice round allow infantrymen who are training to use 40mm grenade launchers to gauge their effectiveness at using the grenade launcher at an range. Unlike Dummy rounds, the Practice round has blue warhead can pops colored smoke  impact. Dummy rounds simple allow for training infantry to load and fire the grenade launcher without risk of friendly fire or bodily injury.  




High Explosive (HE)
This is the standard classic grenade round that is flexible enough to be used against buildings, vehicles, and infantry. If you had to pack only one type of 40mm grenades, you would take HE. This has an 150 meter radius with a five meter kill radius. 










High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT)
HEAT rounds are the classic warhead type for infantry anti-tank weapon platforms. HEAT explodes to form a stream of focused of supra-heated metal particles designed to drill a hole into the armor of the armored vehicle, and kill the interior of the vehicle. To counter HEAT missile attacks, the tank uses reactive armor packs to blow outward, disrupting the particle stream. While HEAT warheads have been around since the 2nd World War, their effectiveness is limited by advances in armor and countermeasures. Most older HEAT missiles are not longer effective against modern tanks, have been repurposed for general use on the battlefield, like the M72 LAW.  

Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP)
Metal shaped by an explosion are nothing new, and have been around since World War II, but have been grimly effective in IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan against light military utility vehicles. A dish of cooper or iron is shaped by an explosive charge into a cone that penetrate armor and create shrapnel. 








High Explosive Plastic (HEP)
High explosive plastic is rather unique and deadly. These squashed head explosives are shells packed with plastic explosives. When the HEP hits the target, the plastic explosives is squashed against the surface of the targets and a delayed fuse is activated. The pancaked plastic explosive is detonated and forges a massive shockwave.  These HEP missiles are found on anti-tank rocket systems.   





K-Charge
General Dynamics has developed the K-Charge, a shaped charge warhead that can be used against a number of targets in various launching systems. K-Charge shaped explosive is being currently used in Javelin rocket launchers. 











Flare, Smoke, and Marking Rounds
Flare grenade rounds are pretty standard for any launching system, and can be used today to blind enemies using NGVs as well as brightening up the night. Smoke grenades for the 40mm GL is also standard for laying down covering smoke for advancing infantry. Ground marking 40mm grenades are used in a variety of colors to sign aircraft for various tasks. 







CS Gas Rounds 
Global law Enforcement and military units use 40mm grenades non-lethal CS gas grenades for riot and crowd control. This is are not a normal part of in-field soldiers, but more used by police, SWAT, or even embassy security staff.









Camera Grenade?!
One new grenade round that Yoel informed me about was the SPARC camera round. These 40x46mm non-lethal grenade wirelessly send back information on the battlefield to a number of devices. Consider that these camera grenade could be used like a cheap aerial drone to scout ahead in field or urban conditions. These are a cheaper and more simple option instead of drones that require more gear.  
Sights and Optics
The main different between aiming any gun to aiming a grenade launcher is the low projectile velocity and the arced trajectory.
Giving this arced trajectory the shooter must tilt the launcher upward in the right angle. The angle that insures target hitting depends on the distance between the shooter and target, for greater distance the bigger the angle. Grenade launcher iron sights have elevation increments designate the distance to target. Originally, most iron sights were mounted to the forward portion of the rifle like M16 M203 sight. However, new underslung GLs, like the M320, have side-mounted flip-up iron sights.
With the advent of cheaper and more durable optics (magnifying scope, red dot, etc.) these optical systems are being mated to rocket and grenade launchers to increase their effectiveness. Computerized targeting optics mounting on the grenade launcher allow the shooter to have a great more information and even simplify the operation of grenade launchers, such as the XM25. These optical system as allow the "smart" grenade to communicate with the launcher and the user. While the actual operation of most grenade launchers is simple, the ability to land a grenade in a certain spot, especially windows or doors is where the training comes in.      

Air Bursting
The current next trend in the field of grenade launchers is the airbrushing. The technology is developed to solve the problem of enemy combatants hiding in a room or behind wall or trench etc. A grenade capable of explode in midflight right above the enemy heads or a split second after breaking the window, combine with regular line of sight rifle will produce a weapon system the enemy couldn't hide from.The airbrushing consists of three elements: laser range finder, ballistic computer and grenades with programmable fuse. The laser range finder will first be aimed to the corner/window/trench to obtain the range to target, the shooter then set the computer with distance before or after the obtained range, the computer will makes the calculations and program the grenade in the firing chamber with the distance till detonation.When the grenade fired the time-fuse start count grenade revolves, since the barrel rifling is known revolves counted can be easily converted by the fuse to distance the grenade pass.    

Blank Cartridge and Blank Magazines
Blanks are standard rifle ammo without the bullet and usually with more gun powder in them. Blanks loaded into the rifle using magazine like standard rifle ammo. Though a standard magazine loaded with blanks could be used, militaries usually issue the soldier carrying the launcher with shorter magazine and/or magazine with distinctive color for the blanks to differ it from the standard ammo magazine and prevent mistake of loading live round when trying to launch a grenade. Since blanks are a bit shorter than standard ammo some of those magazines are also narrower, allowing only blanks to be insert into the magazine.

"Silence" Grenade Launcher?
At first the idea of a Silence grenade launcher seems to be a bad joke, why silence the launching if the grenade explosion makes a big noise? But that exactly what the Russians did with 3 (known) weapons. The idea wasn’t to create a gun that kill without wake up the base but create a gun that kills without the enemy find where the shooter is. One of the Russian Spetsnaz units' duties during the cold war was to act as infiltration unit to attack & destroy soft targets like command centers or ICBM.A grenade could damage those soft skin targets but it been important that the shooter's unit could escape without detection.For this purpose the Russians developed three weapons: Device D, Device DM & BS-1.The three guns have a separate grenade – blank cartridge arrangement, a special noiseless & flash less blank cartridge is used to push the grenade.BS-1 is an under barrel gun, attach to AK, while Device D & Device DM are stand alone guns that could be loaded with noiseless non-blank cartridges for self-defense.  

The Curious Case of the Russian RPG and English RPG Terms
It common in the western world to believe that "RPG" is acronym meaning "Rocket Propelled Grenade", however, Rocket Propelled Grenade isn’t acronym but a backronym. Originally, "RPG" was an Russian acronym that stood for "Ruchnoy Protivotankovy Granatomyot" meaning "hand-held anti-tank grenade launcher". It was later modified to the widely known and used term Rocket Propelled Grenade.



"Caseless" Grenades?
Caseless ammunition isn’t something new in the realm of MSF but down on earth the only practical "caseless" small arms are Russian grenade shells. Those grenade are not classical caseless but more gyrojet style – the projectile and case are propelled as a single unit out of the barrel.GP-25 & GP-30 are under-barrel single shot launcher.RG-6 is stand alone multi-shot launcher. Balkan is Automatic grenade launcher. I personally believe that caseless grenades that are launched from underslung launchers mounted on assault rifle would be a great innovation, due to it eliminating a step in the reloading process and cut-down on the bulk of the grenades themselves.

Why are Underslung Grenade Launchers Not Standard Issued to Every Soldier?
In science fiction, some future military organizations issue their space marines with assault rifles with underslung grenade launchers. So,  I asked Yoel about why modern military organizations do not make underslung grenade launchers on every standard issue assault rifle? "The same reason no military train and equipped EVERY infantryman with assault rifle and sniper rifle and light machine gun and heavy machinegun and  mortar and radio and medic backpack and …. You get the idea. Similar to the idea of division of labor – 10 specialists can achieve more than 10 people, each of them tries to master 10 different skills. 
Only a few soldiers in the unit are trained to use the grenade launcher and the other trained to use the other guns. In additional, attaching M203 under the fore grip makes the gun heavier and less balanced, carrying the gun and grenades have its toll on the soldier (each 40x46mm grenade weighs in at around one pound). The ability to fire indirect fire to clear a room/trench is a nice thing a unit should have, but not in expense of loading all of soldiers with heavy weapon."  We had to remember that even units that would allow grenade launchers for every soldiers, as in Special Forces or TIER-One units, do not do so. Then there is the issue of money. Each M203 costs the US taxpayer around $1,000 and that does not include training nor the cost of issuing more 40mm grenades.  

The Future of Grenade Launchers, Rocket Launchers, and RPGs
ALIENS and AVATAR has already shown us a glimpse of the future of the grenade launcher. Both displayed integrated grenade launchers  on most, if not all, of the future soldier's assault rifles that fire smaller grenades than the standard 40mm of today. Smaller grenades are already being tested for replacing the 40mm, like the 25x40mm grenades found in the XM25 and XM29 OICW. It is highly likely that this trend will continue due to smaller grenades allow for the soldier to carry more grenades while lightening their loads, it also allows the launcher to feed from an magazine, increasing the volume and power of current underslung grenade launchers. Another grenade launcher technology is the micro-grenade that fits inside an 12 gauge shell: the Frag-12. These rounds paired with the devastating AA-12 automatic shotgun could be deadly tool of future soldiers.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrated the power of combining the AGL and the light military utility vehicle. Even the new breed of armored vehicles, like the US Army M1126 Stryker, mount AGLs with remote control systems. This could be a vision of future AGLs being mounted on the next-generation of lighter tanks We could see these 20mm/30mm grenade launcher systems being installed on UGVs. Unlike its aerial cousin, the UGV has yet to achieve battlefield experience and global notoriety...but its day is coming. These UGVs could be used as patrol elements or even for direct action missions, and the UGVs are a natural platform for an automatic grenade launcher system. This idea was seen in CoD: Modern Warfare 3 with the Russian UGV.
While the future is secure for underslung grenade launchers and AGLs, the future is dimmer for the RPG and the rocket launcher. It is my believe that the bulky anti-tank and anti-air rocket launchers of the 1980s will be married to the lighter and more usable RPG concept. In this fusion, either will survive in their current form, but they will be more tactically flexible on the future battlefield. These rocket launchers will more compact in size and have an munitions package that is able to adjust to the threat. This will cut down on the various rocket launchers and RPGs in service, and allow a single weapons platform to be "anti-everything".
Several defense agencies and companies around the world are working developing guided bullets, basically mini-missiles with sensors and maneuvering fins, and this technology could be adapted to for long range grenade launchers that would more compact and lightweight. Grenades have a few advantages over bullets when it comes to "smart-them-up" technologically. Grenade are bigger, in size, than a bullet making the miniature of the electronics and guiding fins an easier task. Muzzle velocities are lower because barrel acceleration is lower, allowing for the hardening of electronics, guiding systems, and fins easier. Lower trajectory velocity makes the grenade easier to maneuver, allowing for those fins to work more effectively. With explosive warhead and airbursting, even flyby and low-level of guiding is enough to takes the target.

Far-Future Grenade Launchers/RPGs/Rocket Launchers
One element that could change the face of grenade launchers and rocket launchers in the far future is nanotechnolgy. Of course, John Scalzi gave this idea birth with the MP35 used by the CDF super-soldiers that used nano-smart-material to forge all manner of weaponry from a single ammunition source and for a single weapon platform. Nano-material like this could revolutionize RPGs/rocket launchers/Grenade launchers, allow for the marriage of all of these into a single weapons platform. Much like the Smart grenades that Yoel mentioned above, nanotechnology and smart materials could also allow a grenade or rocket to adjust to the tactical situation in real time. If the target ducks down undercover, the nano-smart-grenade could adjust the warhead in flight. When it comes future warheads, we could also see plasma being warhead type. Much like white phosphorus, plasma burns at very high temperatures, and could be used for a close quarters load to burn out anyone in a room or inside armored vehicles. When it comes to launching technology, Yoel wrote me about electromagnetics being used to launch grenades and/or rockets in either railgun form or Gauss gun. The arrangement of coils and/or rails that can propel solid bullets, can also propel grenades in future weapon systems.Of course, the grenades should be designed to withstand not only the acceleration but also the intense magnetic & electric fields....or else. Since those grenades are heavier than bullets the muzzle velocities would be lower than bullets, but since the grenades do not relies on kinetic energy to do the job that won't be a problem.
Coil Guns and/or Railgun grenade launcher could be configured to resemble those of the modern grenade launchers or even rocket launchers. Long range grenade launcher will use the absence of chemical propellant explosive and the ability to set sub-sonic muzzle velocity to launch grenade completely quite. Under the barrel Gauss gun/Rail gun grenade launcher systems could be attach to standard Gauss/Railgun KE or DE infantry weapons and would fed from the same power source as primary gun. This concept was seen in Crysis 2 with the Gauss attachment launcher. Modern rifle grenade with 'bullet trap' could be mounted on the tip of Gauss gun/Rail gun 'barrel' and launch using the Gauss gun/Rail gun projectiles.
The combination of 'dial a velocity' with automatically aiming would result with a Gauss gun/Rail gun that fire a burst or volley of grenades, each of them in different inclining and velocity that will insure all of those grenades hit the target simultaneously! Fuck yeah! The impact to the target is that of a much bigger shell than each of the grenades could produce individually. One of the issues that FWS addressed with Gauss or Rail DE technology is power. Developing and/or fielding these kinetic energy weaponry is depend on the existence of better power cells with energy density (J/gram or J/cm^3) equivalent to high explosive leading to the possibility of using the power cell as explosive device as well. If future technology could create cheap and expendable power cells, the Guass and Rail grenade launcher could be use these power cells as both as grenades and power sources for the launcher system. One grenade or more would be plugged into the launcher power contacts, while the other power cells would be placed into the launcher magazine.

Science Fiction and the Grenade Launchers/Rocket Launcher/RPG

At one time, just after World War II, military planners, futurists, and sci-fi writers seemed to believe that rockets would be the primary lethal projectile of future soldiers. Some of these RPG and Grenade Launchers would be tipped with atomic or nuclear explosives, like the insane M28/M29 "Davy Crockett" nuclear recoilless rifle. These ideas were clearly broadcast in the sci-fi of the day with Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers being the most well-known. In the infantry small-arms, it was envisioned that soldiers might be using Gryojet rifles. This idea was quickly replace by the more popular ray gun and the realities of modern warfare as seen in Korea and Vietnam. While it is true that Grenade Launchers and RPGs played a much more important role in modern warfare than in the 2nd World War, the assault rifle was the future of infantry small-arms, not lasers, Gryojets, or bazookas. Grenade Launchers and RPGs would stay in the background for many years in the works of sci-fi. It was not until the invasion of military science fiction themed role-playing games, comics, and anime; that these types of weapon systems would be seen in greater numbers. After all, what would ROBOTECH be without rocket launchers? This was combined with the Reagan 80's, when the cutting-edge high-tech weapons of NATO were pitted against the Warsaw Pact, given new creators new ideas about future war and the future weapons involved.
What is interesting, is that the Big Two sci-fi franchises that revolutionized the genre of sci-fi, Star Wars and Star Trek, lacked in the area of Grenade Launchers and RPGs. One of the works that got the idea of sci-fi rocket launchers into the public imagination was the video game DOOM and the 30mm M41A1 Grenade Launcher from ALIENS. In 1993, the rocket launcher featured in the extremely popular video game quickly became an icon and one of the most used weapons in internet combat. 1996's Quake would plant the nail further into the consciousness of the sci-fi community. This made the rocket launcher the standard for all shooter games....even Goldeneye on the N64. Today, the Grenade Launcher and the RPG are common among science fiction films, books, movies, and comics, becoming the standard of mega-damage "fuck you" weaponry...after all, what would HALO or DOOM be like online without the rocket launcher?

Examples


The Over-and-Under PN U1 30mm Pump-Action Grenade Launcher from ALIENS
One of the most iconic grenade launchers in sci-fi is the over-and-under 30mm PN pump-action U1 grenade launcher mounted to under the foregrip of the 10mm caseless M41A1 assault carbine. The U1 GL was designed to be loaded in a similar manner to a shotgun to allow for easy of use. When fully loaded, the U1 holds four grenade cartridges with the trigger being mounted in the magazine assembly. Traditional, Marines do not load the U1 with more than two 30mm shells, due to the weight. This addition of the integrated 30mm grenade launcher was a big hit among combat units, allowing them additional firepower, even if it adds training during basic.
While there are a number of grenade shell munitions available, the most common issued among Colonial Marine and US Army units is the M40 high explosive dual purpose (HEDP). This fires at 87 meters-per-second with an effective range of 400 meters with an lethal radius of five meters. The M40 can also double as a hand grenade with a push of the top cap. There are seven other 30mm grenade shells, five lethal, two non-lethal. The lethal shells vary from white phosphorous, to buckshot, to high explosive armor piercing. The two non-lethal are an "baton" round that is designed for riot control and a practice grenade for training. The grenade launcher seen in the 1986 film was constructed from an Remington Model 870 with pieces from the Franchi SPAS-12 and the M40 grenades themselves were constructed out of 12 gauge shells to the shotgun used to construct the U-1 grenade launcher.

The Rocket and Grenade Launchers of ROBOTECH: the New Generation
While massive missile attack are nothing new in the ROBOTECH/Macross universe, the third series of the ROBOTECH saga included a number of grenade and rocket launchers via the REF Cyclone mecha. The larger of these weapon systems is the RL-6 Heavy Rocket Cannon that was carried by Rook during the series in her VR-038 Cyclone. The RL-6 is magazine-fed with six mini-missiles carried inside a box-like magazine with a range of 1200 meters. This could be used by non-armored infantry and was highly effective against Invid mecha.
In the VR-041 Saber Cyclone type, famously used by Lancer during the series, the close-range weaponry is augmented by twin packs of GR-103 mini-missiles that are six per pack located in the "chest" portion of the transformed Cyclone. These same missiles are used in the more standard Cyclone type, the VR-052 with the GR-97 forearm. Four tubes are divided evenly among the arms, and had to be breech-loaded after firing. These are effective against Invid, especially the scout type. These mini-missiles were more simply firing than the RL-6 with only rudimentary tracking and guidance systems. It seemed that every episode, our brave ROBOTECH warriors were firing dozens of rockets and missiles.  

The RPG-7 from "Remembrance of the Daleks" from the Dr. Who Universe

In the 1988 episode of the Doctor Who, "Remembrance of the Daleks", there is an traditional Eastern Bloc RPG used against those iconic enemies in the Doctor Who universe: the Daleks. For us fans of the Old Who, this is one of those moments that was glorious to finally see, especially with fan-favorite, Ace doing the deed. Given the advanced nature of the Daleks, it is unlikely that an RPG that is ineffective against main battle tanks would be effective against these alien invades and shooting an RPG-7 indoors would be risky...but, this is classic Doctor Who after all.

The UNSC M41 "Jackhammer" SSR Rocket Launcher from the HALO Universe

Since 1993's DOOM, the rocket launcher has been a standard among shooter games, and in 2001 we gamers got one of the next great rocket launchers of games: the HALO: Combat Evolved  the M41 Rocket Launcher. From the original game to the incoming HALO 5: Guardians, the M41 Jackhammer rocket launcher has been there and evolved as well. Officially, the M41 is a surface-to-surface medium anti-vehicle weapon fires an 102mm HEAT shaped charged rockets that have proven themselves effective useful against all manner of Covenant vehicles and aliens as well.
The M41 is reloadable and carried two rockets in two separate tubes that rotate. These are the mainstay heavy weapon system of UNSC forces during the war. While the design and power has changed over the course of the many HALO games, it was the lock-on feature found in HALO 2. This allows the player to engage aerial and moving targets much more effective than the old fire-and-prayer method. From the HALO 5 Beta, the old standard UNSC rocket launcher is being retooled with a new look and is losing the twin-tube design. The M41 SSR is often regarded as one of the finest and most popular video game rocket launchers. Bungie modeled the M41 SSR from the Marathon SPNKR-X17/18 SSM launcher.


Boba Fett's MM9 Rocket Launcher System from the Star Wars Universe
One of the weapons that the iconic Boba Fett carries is a wrist fired rocket launcher only briefly seen in the film and on various action figures. This is a wrist-mounted micro-rocket launcher with a short range, but various ammunition types are available for the MM9 along with guided rockets. The MM9 is popular with pirates, mercenaries, and bounty hunters as it gives firepower without the bulk of a regular rocket launcher. Physical and software failsafes prevent the user from getting their hand in the way of the launching rocket.

The 7.62x39 Airburst Ammunition from Elysium
One of my favorite recent science fiction films is 2013's Elysium, and this great gritty sci-fi film is an "ancient" AKM that has been retrofitted to fire 7.62x39mm airbursting ammunition. This helps the gang members to clear out the high-dollar security close protection droids. The downside of this powerful micro-grenade ammunition is that it jams the weapon. This military-grade ammunition is designed to explode around the target within five meters, helping the soldier kill the target despite cover or armor. While plasma shielding is able to counter the airburst ammunition, it can take its toll.

The XM31 Wrist Grenade Launcher from COD: Black Ops: II
In the single-player campaign of Black Ops: II, the J-SOC soldiers wear were the XM31 wrist mounted micro-grenade launcher that has three grenade magazine. This is an interesting military technology, and while wrist-mounted rocket/grenade launchers are as old as science fiction and seen on Boba fucking Fett, it is not realistic...unless you have powered armor on. Simply put, the recoil on the launcher would throw the aiming completely off, and could snap the wrist of the user. There could be a two stage launching system to allow an pneumatic first stage with the rocket motor firing after. I never liked the XM-31 personally. I would have preferred normal grenades, because I always found the XM-31 aim to be off and the grenades were largely ineffective.

The Mobile Infantry MK55 Tactical Oxygen Nuclear Launcher
To clear on bug-holes and big bad bugs, the M.I. turn to the MK55 tactical oxygen nuclear launcher. Unlike normal nuclear or atomic explosive, the MK55 is a micro-nuclear device with a limited blast radius and radiation risk. Not normally issued to planetary M.I. operations, the MK55 was issued during the Bug War to take down larger enemies species and clear bug-holes. The MK55 is served in the field by several specialized trained soldiers. The cone-shaped nuclear munition is stored in suitcase-type carriers and is loaded for the M.I. trooper by the MK55 field operators. Given the insanity of the movie, I guess a portable nuclear missile launcher is not out of the question, but the from what I've seen of the M.I. training, it may not be the best idea.  

The Mobile Infantry APS mounted "Y" Rack Grenade Launcher from SST Novel

In the first few pages of the 1959 novel that established modern military science fiction literature, our main character, Rico is deployed to lightning raid on the Skinny homeworld. Using the full abilities of the powered armor, the unit attacks the Skinnies with these oddball atomic grenades (or bombs or rockets) that fires from a Y rack on the armor itself. Rico mentions that this was only the second time that he had been issued atomic munitions for a mission. These "peewee" atomic explosives were less than two kilotons nominal yield (Little Boy was 12 kilotons) and Fat Man was 21 kilotons). Why did Robert Heinlein write that the MI troopers use low-yield atomic weaponry instead of laser beams? According to the author himself, he was attacked by his fellow science fiction writers at the time for supporting US Nuclear Weapons testing and nuclear weaponry in general. It is possible that this opening scene in the novel was a jab at those other writers, and a vehicle for Heinlein to show a "good" tactical use of atomic weaponry. We also have to remember that this time, the US Military was developing low-yield nuclear and atomic weaponry for battlefield use, like the insane Davy Crockett M28/M29 tactical nuclear recoilless rifle. This idea is also seen in the rarely mentioned or seen 1987 anime OVA based on SST novel. There, the Y rack is an Y-shaped rocket launcher mounted to the back of the "soldier" model powered armor of the MI troopers. It does not fire micro-atomics, but high explosive rockets. Other SST works have included their own take on the Y-rack. I included an standard issue back-mounted  40mm grenade launcher on the UA Dragoon APS in my novel Endangered Species as a nod to SST.

The Zion Infantry Twin-Tube Rocket Launcher from The Matrix: Revolutions
In the 3rd Matrix movie, the military of Zion is preparing for the all-out assault on the last human city. The frontline of this battle between man and machine is the docks, and backing up the APU corps is Zion civilian volunteers paired with the limited infantry of the Zion military. These two groups work in pairs, the soldier is the operator of a boxy dual-tube rocket launcher and the civilian is the loader of these rockets (reminds me of the opening scenes of Enemy at the Gates).
Zee can be seen making "shells" as she called it, for the rocket crews prior to the machine invasion. Once the battle hits the docks, Zee operates with an female soldier as they attempt to take out the digger machines before the diggers can crack an opening into the heart of Zion. These dumb-fire rocket launchers appear to rather basic launchers, no more advanced than today's reloadable rocket launchers.

The UNSC M319 Standalone Grenade Launcher from the HALO: Reach

In the prequel to the original HALO game, Reach, we see a type of UNSC grenade launcher: the M319. This simple, rugged grenade launcher has been in service, in one form or another, since 2263. Users of the M319 can select several firing modules, from a traditional impact setting to EMP to delayed detonation. While used throughout the Human-Covenant War, it was mainly in the hands of UNSC Army units, and was soon replaced, after three centuries of use. This futuristic standalone grenade launcher is similar to the M79 40mm break-action breech loading grenade launcher used in the Vietnam War. This is one of those weapons that either you love or hate, and at first, I hated it. However, after more hands-on time, I got to the point where I could use it, but I still was more effective with a grenade throw. I seemed to always always run into players online that were fucking ninjas with the thing, and owned my ass.

The RPG Gun from No Escape (1994)
During the mid-1990's, I had HBO in high school, and during 1994-1995 they aired the utter fuck out of this 1994 Ray Liotta vehicle: No Escape. In the film, Liotta plays Robbins, a US RECON Marine that is ordered to attack Benghazi(!) with gunships. The attack leaves hundreds of civilians dead, and Robbins scarred. To protest the actions of his leadership, Robbins walks up to his CO and shoots him in the head. For his actions, Robbins is sentenced to the most secure prison that is also privately run.  The worst-of-the-worst are exiled to an private island.The private prison is using the island to rid the prison of their problem inmates and still get money from the government. On the island, Robbins discovers different groups struggle for power and survival.
In the film, there is only one gun seen: the hand-held compact rocket launcher. It is never given a name in the film, however, the shitty video game for the Sega Genesis, the weapon is referred to as an "Ruger". The leader of the largest and most violent gang, Marek, has the only weapon on the island. Over the course of the film, the weapon is cocked and re-cocked, which is how the grenade or rocket is primed for firing. The warhead beeps when ready. All of these methods are used to scare and intimated. Since this film is nearly forgotten today, despite not being that bad, there is no information on the weapon. It is my opinion that an 870 shotgun was used as the base weapon for the prop with a ton of plastic pieces being used to round out the design.


The CARB 20mm Grenade Launcher Attachment from AVATAR
In the 2009 film, the RDA's own PMC, the SecOps, are mostly seen carrying the mobular caseless CARB rifle system. The  CARB specializes in be adaptable and flexible to any tactical situation with a number of underslung rail system attachments. One of the commonly seen attachments is the 20mm magazine fed grenade launcher. This appears on the more standard CARB  GS-221 setup. The attachment grenade launcher is a magazine-fed and holds six 20mm grenades of various munition types. It can be operated as a stand along weapon with some modifications. I am uncertain if the 20mm grenade launcher was actually used in the film, but is weapon in the shitty 2009 video game.

The MP-35 Rocket & Grenade Launchers from the Old Man's War Universe
The primary weapon of the Colonial Union military, the CDF, is the Multi-Purpose 35or MP-35 rifle. Via the use of nano-robotic ammunition, the MP-35 can use the dense block of metal to forge various kinds of lethal munition, including grenades and guided missiles. With the full block of nano-material, the MP-35 can manufacture 40 grenades or 35 rockets. Both of these are used in the book during several battles. When we consider the amount of firepower that the MP-35 gives the CDF enhanced soldier is impressive. Little is said about the grenades or the guided missiles save for their effectiveness. I continue to say that the MP-35 is one of the most impressive weapons in science fiction and I would love to see a live-action MP-35 in the upcoming Old Man's War TV series or movie.     







The Rocket Launcher from the DOOM Games
One of the works of science fiction that put the rocket launcher into the minds and hearts of the general public is the rocket launcher from 1993's DOOM. Taken on the demons of hell with a rocket launcher was one of the great moments in my teenage years and I felt nearly god-like washing the maps of DOOM and DOOM 2 with a hail of rockets and explosions. Unleashing a hail of rockets and watching the chaos that ensues was one of the great moments in the game, and for most gamers as well. This caused that from that point onward, rocket launchers were standard fare for nearly every shooter game. Unlike the original games, DOOM 3 retooled the rocket launcher to feeding from a five rocket magazine, and not a nearly endless well of rocket-goodness. There is little or nothing on the technical information on the DOOM rocket launchers and even the size of the rocket is up to debate. We can all expect the rocket launcher to make an appearance in the incoming new DOOM game.

The Grenade Launchers from Predator
One of the most iconic 1980's action films, and one of the best, is 1987's Predator. The small Special Forces rescue team sent into the jungle to extract some friendly 3rd World government officials is armed with two grenade launchers: the M16A2 M203 and the custom built 37mm revolver GL used by Poncho. Today, revolver grenade launchers are used by the military, back in 1987 the concept had not yet fully developed, and the armorers of the film had to kitbash one together. Poncho's sweet grenade launcher was assembled mainly from pieces of an H&K HK94 battle rifle and an aircraft AN-M5 37mm flare launcher. Some on IMFDB.org believe that the Poncho launcher was developed from the Braddock: Missing in Action III underslung six-shot launcher. Either way, this fake revolver six-shot grenade launcher became an iconic and influence a number of multi-shot grenade launchers in video games and film.
At the time, the M203 was in use by many military organizations around the world, and the its appearance in the film would not be usual, Dutch's M203 seen in the was actually fake and 39mm, not 40mm. The weapon is never seen reloaded on-screen and the damaged and abilities of the M203 are overstated in the film. For example, the M203 is used at closer range than the real one could operate. One interesting use of Dutch's M203 came when Schwarzenegger bursts into the communication and intelligence hut. He actually fires the 40mm grenade at point-blank range, using it like a massive shotgun slug round and launches the Soviet military advisor out the fucking wall. Dutch would later breakdown his remaining 40mm grenades for his close encounter with the Predator.

The OCP ED-209 Rocket Launcher from Robocop
One of those great moments in 1980's science fiction cinema was the battle between the ED-209 and Robocop in 1987's Robocop. The Enforcement Droid series 209 was heavily armed badass UGV with three 20mm auto-cannons, heat-seeking micro-missiles and a unseen mortar for lobbing riot-control munitions. During the first confrontation between Robocop and the ED-209, the UGV mech-walker used its micro-rocket launchers to attempt to kill Robocop. During the scene, the missiles were largely ineffective, and Robocop was able to avoid the incoming fire.

The UNSC "Hydra" MLRS from HALO 5: Guardians

One of the new human weapons incoming for HALO 5: Guardians, is the Hydra MLRS that fires from a rotating cylinder of six mini-rockets. The Hydra has a lock-on feature and is similar to the HALO: Reach Covenant Type-52 guided munitions launcher. The weapon is a rapid fire rocket launcher with airbursting capabilities. While it can kill a fully shielded SPARTAN-IV with two rockets, it is uncertain how effective the MLRS will be against vehicles. 
Next Time on FWS...
They are the military utility vehicle of science fiction, the future of the helicopter and the tilt-rotor: the tactical transport. Throughout science fiction and cross all types of media, the tactical transport has been the mainstay of getting space marines from the void to dirtside with the firepower to support those soldiers on the off-world battlefields. However, the term "tactical transport" has been confused by creators and fans under the title "dropship".