The Ministry of Defence on Thursday announced it had signed a contract with a Nagpur-based private entity for supply of 10 lakh of units indigenously designed and developed Multi-Mode Hand Grenades (MMHG) to the Indian Army at a cost of over Rs 400 crore. These grenades will be replacing the World War-II vintage ‘Mills Bomb’ type 36M hand grenades now used by the Army.
A look at the features of the MMGH, and why they are considered an improvement over those currently in use.
The No 36 grenades currently in use
In the early 20th century, militaries across the world started using fragmentation grenades, whose casings are structured for it to break into small fragments which can cause further harm following the explosion. The peculiar pineapple-like look was given because the outside segments and grooves aid the fragmentation of the casing. In the further improved designs, the grooves and segments were put from the inside and pineapple like outer structure was also retained for better grip.
For several years now, the Indian Army has been using the World War vintage 36M hand grenade. The number refers to a variant of the ‘Mills Bomb’ which are British origin grenades and these grenades also have the pineapple shape. These grenades can be fired from the rifle too. The 36M have been manufactured by the facilities of the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) for the Armed forces.
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The Multi-Mode Hand Grenade
“Grenades of natural fragmentation type have been in use by the infantry world over for a long time. Indian Army still uses the 36M, a grenade which also has severe reliability problems and uneven fragmenting pattern making it unsafe even to the thrower. The multi-mode grenade has been developed to overcome these defects. It uses preformed cylindrical mild steel pre-fragments to achieve uniform distribution,” says the official page of the DRDO’s facility Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory (TBRL) which has developed the MMHG.
The MMHG can be used in two different structures resulting in two different modes — defensive and offensive. The grenades being used by the forces in India till now have been mainly the defensive mode grenades, which means that they are to be hurled when the thrower is in a shelter or has a cover and the target is in an open area and can be harmed by fragmentation.
On the other hand, the offensive grenades do not fragment, and the adversary is harmed by the blast or is stunned while the thrower is safe.
For the MMHG’s defensive mode, the grenade has a fragamenting sleeve and a lethal radius of 10 metres. In the offensive mode, the grenade is without a sleeve and mainly used for blast and stun effect. In the offensive, it has a lethal radius of 5 meters from point of burst.
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The supply of MMHG
The Acquisition Wing of the MoD on Thursday signed a contract with Economic Explosive Ltd — EEL is a subsidiary of Nagpur-headquartered Solar Group — for the supply of 10 lakh MMHG to the Indian Army at an approximate cost of Rs 409 crore. For conducting field tests of the grenade, the DRDO had transferred the technology to the company four years ago. The grenade has been tested in various types of conditions and is said to have achieved 99 per cent safety and reliability.
The MoD press statement in this regard said, “This is a flagship project showcasing public-private partnership under the aegis of Government of India (DRDO and MoD) enabling ‘AtmaNirbharta’ in cutting edge ammunition technologies and accomplishes 100 per cent indigenous content.”
Officials said the development of the grenade had begun around 15 years ago and along with the DRDO facility, establishments of Army and OFB have also played a role in the development.
According to the company website, the product has a shelf life of 15 years from the date of manufacturing if stored under normal circumstances. The website also states that the product has twin delay tubes for additional safety and 3800 uniform fragments for higher lethality.
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