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.
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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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