New grenade machine gun

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New grenade machine gun

SACO A weapons manufacturer is nearing production on a high-tech grenade machine gun that uses a video control system and programmable ammunition to help detect and hit targets.

General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products will soon start making the Striker 40, a new generation of lightweight weapons for the U.S. military.

The weapon weighs a relatively light 38 pounds and can fire 40-millimeter grenades at the rate of more than 225 a minute. The grenades can be detonated at set distances using a laser range finder, giving it unprecedented accuracy.

General Dynamics is touting the new grenade gun and its advanced technology as the first major advance in this kind of weapon since World War II. In time, company officials expect the Striker 40 to replace the MK 19, a grenade machine gun that is the plant's mainstay of production.

The factory is the sole producer of the MK 19, and has made 25,000 of them since 1986.

"This is the next generation of the MK 19," said Clifton Bushey, a vice president in General Dynamics' armament division in Burlington, Vt.

When the Saco plant begins producing the Striker 40, it will also be an important development for the 50-year-old manufacturing plant that has seen its fortunes rise and fall with changes in the military and commercial sectors.

The plant, for years known as Saco Defense, employed as many as 700 workers in 1989. Today it has 230.

General Dynamics, which bought the plant in 2000, is consolidating its medium-caliber weapons program in Saco, a move that could give the plant a more stable future.

For now, the Striker 40 is still undergoing engineering work, and General Dynamics declined to display the weapon. Bushey said the first small order from the Army is expected soon.

In May, the weapon received a trial test by the U.S. Special Operations Command at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

"It's a great weapon," said Maj. Deac Heilig, systems acquisition manager at the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla. "It's a leap ahead of what we're using now."
By netchicken: posted on 18-11-2002

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