$8.2M to ARM for Marine Corps Smoke Grenades
American Rheinmetall Munitions (ARM) in Stafford, VA received an $8.2 million order from the Program Manager for Ammunition, Marine Corps Systems Command, in Quantico, VA, to deliver vehicle-launched 66mm visual and infrared screening smoke grenades. The Marines chose the ARM’s red phosphorous smoke MK 1 MOD 0 grenade over the brass flakes-based M76 grenade.
Both the MK 1 MOD 0 and the M76 are armored-vehicle-launched grenades that provide masking for armored vehicles in the visible and thermal infrared wavebands, so-called bispectral obscurants. The obscurants make it difficult for the enemy to detect the vehicles by blocking the electromagnetic spectrum. However, the grenades provide masking in different ways. The MK 1 MOD 0 grenade uses red phosphorous pellets and wafers that, when burned, generate a thick smoke the blocks detection of the vehicle in the visible and infrared spectrum. The M76 grenade uses micropulverized flakes of brass that when dispersed by the grenade also block the infrared and visible spectrum.
ARM argues that its MK 1 MOD 0 grenade provides better protection for armored vehicles because the red phosphorous smoke provides longer lasting coverage than the brass flakes in windy conditions and the smoke is less toxic to troops. ARM notes that the MK 1 MOD 0 is based on burning RP, which, if inhaled in high concentrations for extended periods, could be harmful to humans, but has been cleared for use by chemists and toxicologists at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Command in Maryland. The Marines have opted to use the MK 1 MOD 0 instead of the M76, which has been banned for use in training due to the health hazards and environmental risks of brass flakes, ARM explains.
The Marines plan to use the MK 1 MOD 0 wherever they deploy around the world. The 66mm MK 1 MOD 0 can only be fired from dischargers on 3 vehicles fielded by the Marines: their M1 Abrams tanks, their AAV7 Amtracs amphibious assault vehicles, and their wheeled LAV-II armed personnel carriers. Some Marine Corps Hummers (HMMWVs) are mounted with M7 light vehicle obstruction smoke screen systems but are not authorized to use this grenade.
The 66mm MASKE, the German version of the 66mm MK 1 MOD 0, is qualified for use in the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and the Netherlands.
Additional Readings & Sources
- ARM – Description of the MK 1 MOD 0 grenade
- Army Field Manual Field Manual No. 3-50 – Smoke Operations
- Wikipedia – Smoke Screens
- SITIS – Bi-spectral (Visible & Infrared) Material for Smoke/Obscurant Munitions