Mk47 Striker40: GD’s Auto-Programmed 40mm GMG
40mm grenade machine guns (GMGs) like the Mk19 are extremely effective weapons against lightly protected opponents, offering fast firepower overmatch against superior numbers. This has made them an increasingly popular choice on the front lines. General Dynamics’ Mk47 STRIKER40 updates the standard GMG with advanced electronics, and lower weight. That change, in and of itself, helped spur early use by US special operations forces. The flip side is an increase in the purchase cost of each weapon, and in the associated maintenance burdens.
General Dynamics’ reliable Mk19 is still in production, and is likely to remain so for some time to come. Nevertheless, the new Striker40 is beginning to attract contracts and interest…
The MK47 Striker40
The Striker40 is a short recoil operated, locked breech weapon that fires from a closed bolt for improved first-shot hit probability. Like other GMGs, it’s air-cooled and belt fed, using standard disintegrating belts supplied in 32 or 48 round boxes. General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products (GD ATP) describes the 225 – 300 rounds per minute gun as “the first major advancement in crew-served weapon systems since the end of World War II,” but that boast isn’t driven by rate of fire. Competitors like Heckler & Koch can exceed that figure.
Modern materials have allowed weight savings, which are very important in an infantry weapon. By dropping the gun’s weight from the Mk19’s 77 pounds/ 35 kg without the tripod mount (Mk19 MOD 3), to 39.6 pounds/ 18kg (Mk47 MOD 0), General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products has helped spur early use of its Striker40 by US special operations forces. When assembled with its own tripod and sight for carriage on foot, however, the Mk47’s weight rises to 90 pounds/ 41 kg. It can also be mounted on vehicles as a crewed weapon.
Those characteristics are improvements, but they aren’t revolutionary.
Like so many other new military technologies, the Striker40’s new capabilities and potential pitfalls stem from computerization, miniaturization, and advanced sensors. The AN/PVG-1 Lightweight Video Sight (LVS) offers Striker40 operators 3x magnification, a laser range finder and ballistic computer, and interface connectors for an optional thermal night sight attachment. LVS is installed on the right side of the weapon, and is controlled by buttons and 4-position “joystick” located at the rear of the receiver, between and above the weapon’s spade grips.
While competitors like Denel’s Y3 AGL have ballistic computers that can help aim indirect fire, the Striker40 goes a step further. The PVG-1 Lightweight Video System, coupled with programed fuze ammunition, allows a Striker40 gunner to fire programmed airbursts, which detonate at precise distances specified by the laser rangefinder. Opponents in the field trying to hide behind a wall or in a trench can no longer depend on that protection, which is very useful in urban fights and counterinsurgency campaigns.
General Dynamics is partnered with Raytheon in Dallas, TX and Forest, MS to build the AN/PVG-1 LVS Fire Control. Norway’s NAMMO develops the advanced, air-bursting 40mm ammunition, though Striker40s are also compatible with the full spectrum of NATO standard 40mm high velocity rounds.
In 2003, US Special Operation Command (USSOCOM) adopted the GD ATP Striker40 automatic grenade launcher as the Mark 47 model 0.
Contracts and Key Events
Unless otherwise noted, the contractor is General Dynamics Armaments and Technical Products (GD ATP) in Burlington, VT.
Aug 6/10: A $24.9 million firm-fixed-price, unfinalized contract for 130 MK47 40mm advanced light weight grenade launcher systems with lightweight video sight, air burst barrels, and ancillary equipment with spare and repair parts.
Program management will be conducted in Burlington, VT, with production occurring at General Dynamics’ Saco, Maine, facility. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in January 2012 and be complete by Aug 3/12. One bid was solicited with one bid received by the U.S. Army TACOM Contacting Center in Rock Island, IL (W56HZV-10-C-0408). On Oct 1/10, GD ATP announces that this is actually a foreign military sale. The firm has exhibited the Mk47 abroad, notably at the Middle East’s IDEX show.
Jan 26/09: GD ATP announces a $12 million contract from the U.S. government for production of the MK47 STRIKER40 Weapon System. Production work will be performed at General Dynamics in Saco, Maine, with program management being shared with the company’s Burlington, VT, facility.
July 23/07: GD ATP announces a $13.2 million option from the U.S. Government for production of the MK47 MOD 0 Weapon System. The award is part of the 5-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract awarded in June 2006, and brings the total contract value thus far to $46.3 million.
Jan 30/07: GD ATP announces an $8.6 million option from the U.S. Government for MK47 MOD 0 Striker40 production, as part of a 5-year Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract awarded in June 2006. This brings the total contract value to date to $32.5 million.
The MK47, also known as STRIKER40, is a lightweight grenade launcher capable of firing airbursting munitions. Its integrated fire control system provides a decisive technological advantage over enemy forces equipped with older crew-served weapons.
General Dynamics is partnered with Raytheon (Dallas, Texas/Forest, Miss.) to build the Lightweight Video System (LVS) Fire Control. Program administration will be conducted at General Dynamics’ Vermont-based Burlington Technology Center, with production occurring at General Dynamics’ Saco, Maine, facility.
Nov 29/06: Vinghog AS in Tonsberg, Norway received an $8.4 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for an Improved Crew Served Weapons Mount (ICSWM) for the MK47 “Striker” Advanced Lightweight 40mm Grenade Launcher (ALGL). Vinghog’s ICSW Mount, with adapters, will also be used with other fielded machine guns such as the M2 .50 caliber and M240 7.62mm. It is envisioned that the ICSWM will improve accuracy when firing on the move.
This project will evaluate a soft-mount for Special Operations Forces (SOF) crew served weapons such as the MK47 MOD 0 ALGL and machine guns. The ICSWM mount program will test the soft-mount technology to verify that it does improve the performance of the MK47 Weapon System in accordance with objective joint Operational Requirements Document. Work will be performed in Tonsberg, Norway, and is expected to be complete by November 2011. All funding will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured and advertised on the Internet, with 1 offer received by the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division in Crane, IN (N00164-07-D-4883).
June 7/06: A $23,6 million 5-year indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract to buy the Mk47 MOD 0 Striker40 Advanced Lightweight Grenade Launchers for US Special Operations Command. Work will be performed in Saco, ME, and is expected to be completed by 2011. This contract will be awarded through the authority of FAR 6.302-1 and 10 U.S.C. 2304c1 (H92222-06-D-0008).
GD ATP’s release lists the contract’s total potential value at $82 million.
- GD ATP – MK47 Striker 40mm Grenade Machine Gun
- Defense Update – Mk47 Mod 0 Striker40 Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL)
- Association of the US Army (Jan 4/05) – MK47 Striker
- Defense Review (March 10/04) – MK47 Striker ALGL (Advanced Lightweight Grenade Launcher): 40mm of the Future?