Picatinny lands 3 of the Army’s 10 greatest inventions of 2009

PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. — Three tech­nolo­gies devel­oped at Picatin­ny Arse­nal were named among the 10 great­est Army inven­tions for 2009, accord­ing to an announce­ment released by the Army this week.

The M320 40mm Grenade Launcher has the capability to be configured as stand-alone system, mounted to the M4 carbine or the M16 rifle, which greatly increases the small unit tactical commander's flexibility to tailor the weapon to the mission.
The M320 40mm Grenade Launch­er has the capa­bil­i­ty to be con­fig­ured as stand-alone sys­tem, mount­ed to the M4 car­bine or the M16 rifle, which great­ly increas­es the small unit tac­ti­cal commander’s flex­i­bil­i­ty to tai­lor the weapon to the mis­sion.
Pho­to Cred­it: U.S. Army pho­to.
Click to enlarge

The Arma­ment Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter (ARDEC) , the largest engi­neer­ing group at Picatin­ny Arse­nal, col­lab­o­rat­ed with var­i­ous project man­ag­er orga­ni­za­tions here to research, devel­op and field the award-win­ning inventions. 

“The Army’s Great­est Inven­tion awards rep­re­sent the absolute best tech­nolo­gies that help keep our troops safer and enable them to suc­ceed on the bat­tle­field. It’s a tremen­dous hon­or for ARDEC, and our PM team­mates, to receive three of these high­ly-cov­et­ed awards because they are select­ed by Sol­diers — the cus­tomers who depend on our prod­ucts,” said Dr. Ger­ar­do Melen­dez, ARDEC direc­tor. “It’s a tes­ta­ment to the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, inno­va­tion and excel­lence of our peo­ple in Team Picatin­ny, who are the dri­ving force behind all our successes.” 

The award sub­mis­sions were judged by a pan­el of non-com­mis­sioned offi­cers with recent com­bat expe­ri­ence in addi­tion to a pan­el of field grade offi­cers from the Army’s Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand. Sub­mis­sions were eval­u­at­ed based on their sig­nif­i­cant impacts to Army capa­bil­i­ties, poten­tial ben­e­fits out­side of the Army, and inventiveness. 

Since the Army Great­est Inven­tions Awards began in 2002, Picatin­ny teams have won 24 of the 80 great­est inven­tions award­ed so far. 

The Picatin­ny teams will be rec­og­nized at the 27th Annu­al Army Sci­ence Con­fer­ence Nov. 29 in Orlan­do, Fla., where they will for­mal­ly be pre­sent­ed with the Army’s Great­est Inven­tions Awards by the Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of the Army for Research and Technology. 

Picatinny’s three Army Great­est Inven­tions of 2009 are: 

40mm Piv­ot­ing Cou­pling: This device allows Sol­diers to re-link ammu­ni­tion belts to pro­vide a con­tin­u­ous fire capa­bil­i­ty for the MK19 weapon sys­tem, as opposed to the cur­rent one-time, 32-round fir­ing capa­bil­i­ty. By using the new piv­ot­ing design to re-link ammu­ni­tion, Sol­diers are less exposed to unnec­es­sary harm or dan­ger caused by hav­ing to reload their ammu­ni­tion belt after fir­ing 32 rounds. Not only is this device sim­ple to reat­tach (requir­ing no tools or skill), the new M16A2 piv­ot­ing cou­pling will also reduce the sal­vage costs of field ammu­ni­tion. Approved for pro­duc­tion in August 2009, the device is cur­rent­ly a stan­dard issue item for train­ing and com­bat use. The design was co-devel­oped by ARDEC and the Pro­gram Exec­u­tive Office for Ammunition’s Project Man­ag­er for Maneu­ver Ammu­ni­tion Sys­tems (PM-MAS), which over­saw its test­ing and incor­po­ra­tion into production. 

M320 40mm Grenade Launch­er: This grenade launch­er is being field­ed as a replace­ment to the Army’s aging M203 series of grenade launch­ers that mount onto M16 rifles and M4 car­bines. This new launch­er attach­es under the bar­rel of the rifle or car­bine, sim­i­lar to the M203, but can quick­ly con­vert to a stand-alone weapon. It also fea­tures an inte­gral day and night sight­ing sys­tem and a hand-held laser rangefind­er to allow for accu­rate sight­ing and fir­ing dur­ing day and night. Because the M320 bar­rel opens to the side, it is com­pat­i­ble with all stan­dard U.S. 40mm low-veloc­i­ty ammu­ni­tion, as well as longer-than-stan­dard ammo. The unique con­fig­u­ra­tion allows for the inte­gra­tion of future ammu­ni­tion devel­op­ments. The sys­tem also includes a dou­ble action fir­ing trig­ger for improved reli­a­bil­i­ty and safe­ty. The Project Man­ag­er for Sol­dier Weapons field­ed the first Army unit with the M320 in June 2009. 

Objec­tive Weapon Ele­va­tion Kit: In Jan­u­ary of 2008, ARDEC received an urgent request from the 401st Army Field Sup­port Brigade in Afghanistan for a way to safe­ly engage ene­my com­bat­ants fir­ing from super-ele­vat­ed posi­tions. In response to this urgent request, ARDEC uti­lized its rapid acqui­si­tion process and pro­to­type inte­gra­tion facil­i­ty to devel­op, pro­to­type and pro­duce Objec­tive Weapon Ele­va­tion Kits, while engag­ing the Field Assis­tance in Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Team 17 to obtain crit­i­cal user feed­back. The sys­tem equips warfight­ers with the capa­bil­i­ty to safe­ly engage ele­vat­ed tar­gets at up to 80 degrees while remain­ing in a pro­tect­ed pos­ture with­in the Objec­tive Gun­ner Pro­tec­tion Kit, which is mount­ed atop var­i­ous com­bat vehi­cles. To date, over 700 sys­tems have been field­ed through the Project Man­ag­er for Mine Resis­tant Ambush Pro­tect­ed Vehi­cles and U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Command. 

About Us: One of the largest employ­ers in North­ern New Jer­sey, the U.S. Army Arma­ment Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Cen­ter (ARDEC) devel­ops near­ly 90 per­cent of the weapon­ry and ammu­ni­tion used by U.S. warfight­ers across all branch­es of ser­vice. Head­quar­tered at Picatin­ny Arse­nal, N.J., the team of 3,600-plus sci­en­tists, engi­neers and sup­port staff includes satel­lite offices and facil­i­ties in Illi­nois, Mary­land and New York. ARDEC works in direct sup­port of its high­er Army head­quar­ters, the Research, Devel­op­ment and Engi­neer­ing Com­mand, head­quar­tered at Aberdeen Prov­ing Ground, Md.

Unit­ed States Army 

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