Top Stories
Top Stories

US develops an ambidextrous hand grenade

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
John Moore | Getty Images

The U.S. is developing its first new hand grenade in over 40 years - and it can be thrown by southpaws.

The grenade, which is being worked on by engineers at Picatinny Arsenal, will give "greater flexibility to the warfighter" according to a news release from the U.S. Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC).

The grenade has been designed for "ambidextrous" use, meaning that soldiers will be able to throw them with either their left or right arm. At the moment, left-handed soldiers need to use a different arming procedure when using current grenades, ARDEC said.

The Enhanced Tactical Multi-Purpose (ET-MP) grenade will also give soldiers the option to "use a hand grenade with different effects simply by flipping a switch," ARDEC added.

"Soldiers will not need to carry as many types of hand grenades," Jessica Perciballi, ARDEC project officer for the ET-MP, said in a statement. "They are currently carrying one M67 grenade that provides lethal fragmentation effects," she added.

"With the new multi-purpose grenade, they can carry one ET-MP grenade and have the ability to choose either fragmentation or concussive effects desired for the situation."

Input from soldiers has been key to the design. "The request for a multi-purpose grenade came from the warfighter in 2010," Matthew Hall, grenades tech base development lead, said. "Research began almost immediately," he added.

"The science and technology funding to move forward with a project came in fiscal year 2013. We received direct input from the Army and Marine Corps early on, which was critical in ensuring the new arming and fuzing design was user friendly."

With the ET-MP, Hall added, detonation time can be "narrowed down into milliseconds, and until armed, the hand grenade will not be able to detonate."

Currently, the idea is to move the new grenade to Project Manager Close Combat Systems – the part of the U.S. Army that equips and trains soldiers – in the fiscal year 2020.

—Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.