Marines and soldiers will no longer need to use “Kentucky windage” to put 40 mm grenades on target if the two branches field Raytheon’s laser guided Pike munition.
The new 40 mm round is guided by semi-active laser designators, meaning the munition will home in on a target that has been lased and destroy it with precision, according to Townsend Blanchard, a senior manager with Raytheon’s land warfare systems.
The Pike is an anti-personnel and anti-light skinned vehicle precision munition that boasts an extended range of nearly 2 km — far surpassing the roughly 300–400 meter range of standard unguided 40 mm grenades, Blanchard told Marine Corps Times. The round also has counter-defilade capabilities.
“Our goal is to bring that precision lethality down to the lowest level, which is the squad,” Blanchard said.
The laser guided grenade can be fired from the Corps’ new M320 grenade launcher and the Vietnam War era M79 launcher, commonly known as the “bloop gun” and still seen in use by the U.S. military today.
Raytheon’s Pike has been in the works since 2014, but Blanchard says the laser guided round has new potential as the U.S. military seeks “overmatch” against rising near-peer competitors.
The Corps and the Army have been seeking to increase the range of a number of systems from missiles, artillery, mortars and small arms as U.S. forces face a looming world power competition.
“Instead of having to fight face to face with the enemy, let’s figure out how we fight the enemy before they get into range with us,” Blanchard said.
The counter-defilade capability of the Pike could be of interest to the Corps as it trades in its old M203 grenade launchers for the M320.
According to Navy budget documents, the Corps says the M320 “will allow for the use of more capable 40 mm grenades for counter-defilade, breaching and non-lethal applications.”
The Corps wants to sink nearly $6.6 million in fiscal year 2020 for 6,307 M320 grenade launchers, according to its recent budget request.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.