Anti-Diver & Thermobaric 40mm Grenade from Arsenal

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Our favorite Bulgarian arms manufacturer has added two new exotic grenades to their 2012 line up. The RLV-AD (Anti-Diver) round is designed to explode at a depth of 5 meters creating an underwater shockwave that is lethal at up to 15 meters and harmful up to 30 meters. The round is compatible with many NATO 40x46mm grenade launchers including the popular 6-shot Milkor MGL (some older launchers with short chambers could have problems chambering the longer exotic rounds).

The Arsenal RLV-TB-AD contains 100 grams of a thermobaric compound called TBC-2. Upon hitting the target the compound is dispersed into the air, creating an air-fuel mixture, then ignited. These grenades are said to be very effective in small buildings and caves. This grenade is also compatible with most standard NATO launchers.

The Pentagon got quite excited about the XM1060 40mm Thermobaric Grenade they developed at Picatinny back in 2003 or 2004, but I have not heard any news about it since.

Read more about military gear at Lionel’s coverage of the KADEX 2012, the Kazakhstan defense expo, held earlier this year. Additional photos here.

[ Many thanks to Lionel for the info and photos. ]




Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • bbmg

    Miniature depth charges, it was only a matter of time :)

    One would think that a GPMG with a belt of supercavitating ammunition as previously featured on this blog ( http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2011/07/06/dsg-technology-mea-supercavitating-rifle-ammo/ ) would be just as effective.

    It would also be interesting to see a scaled down version of the RAMICS concept using a heliborne 30mm cannon firing a APFSDS type round to counter sea mines: http://www.as.northropgrumman.com/products/ramics/index.html

    • Tuulos

      The problem with those supercavitating rounds is that you need to pretty much know the exact position of the enemy diver for it to be effective whereas explosives are much more forgiving in the matter.

      • bbmg

        A single grenade is obviously going to be more effective than a single supercavitating bullet, hence my GPMG suggestion.

        The main question though is, how does one spot a frogman wearing a rebreather? When it is appropriate to use these rounds? If you’re firing them from a grenade launcher instead of just dropping them off the side of the ship, the target must be a way off – could one actually spot a diver beyond grenade throwing range? Is it more effective to fire off grenades or to spray the area with bullets?

        Another advantage of bullets over grenades is that they can be used right up to point blank range without risk of a shockwave damaging the vessel’s structure.

        I guess a CIWS style launcher with an automatic grenade launcher in conjunction with a short range sonar would offer effective defense.

    • D

      explosives affect a radius, while bullets just go in a straight line and hit or miss. A 15m diameter sphere has a volume of 1767 meters, roughly. That’s *huge*. Trying to hit a human size target is hard under adverse conditions, but getting a person to be inside a 15 meter sphere isn’t nearly as difficult.

      Plus, of course, with something like a MK-19 you could just fire a burst of as many as needed to saturate the area.

      As to detection, there’s a few diver detection methods, that aren’t tied to visibly seeing bubble.

      • bbmg

        Fair point, and some further reading on the effects of underwater explosions on the human body (for example http://www.scuba-doc.com/uwblast.html ) shows it to be a formidable weapon. One would intuitively imagine that the mass of water absorbs the blast from the grenade when in fact the inverse is true.

  • Alex-mac

    The thermobaric grenade sounds pretty badass. Does that kill by burning the lungs or just turning them inside out?

    • Sian

      fire is really only a secondary component of thermobarics. They kill by massive overpressure, over a much longer duration than conventional explosives. Specifically in confined areas they’re pretty devastating, and many light structures won’t survive even a 40mm thermobaric blast. They also burn up all the available oxygen, but that’s really secondary.

    • Jay

      The Russian use termobaric 40mm grenades for quite a while. They are extremely effective in urban warfare.
      They made a pump action launcher (in 45mm) speciffically for this purpouse. Since the grenades have no shrapnel, and a known blast range, the launcher could be used in room clearing, when the shooter is just few meters outside the killing zone.

  • West

    Im also stumped as to how you are supposed to sight in on a submerged diver who will most likely strike at night.
    I think using these as mini-mines weighted from the bottom and depth positioned around docked ships might work better. The only problem is how to get the ship out. Maybe remote detonation.

    • bbmg

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AN/WQX-2

      Used in conjunction with these grenades it appears to have similar range, though I wonder if the detector would mind the blast close by.

      • West

        Yeah, you would think the blast would damage the senor head.

      • Tuulos

        Since it has a detection radius of half a mile you could place it well away from the most likely targets for divers so it should be well clear of the blast zones.

    • Rangefinder

      I agree regarding sonar. I think the question is who is responsible for responding to the threat, MESF or ASW. I expect MESF would utilize either man-portable or mounted systems aboard patrol boats. I expect ASW would utilized mounted systems aboard nonfixed-wing aircraft.

      • shawn

        US usea marine mammala as anti swimmers also.

  • armed_partisan

    Call me crazy, but I think those are very good ideas.

    • RocketScientist

      You’re crazy. (sorry, you asked for it)

  • Lance

    More wonder weapon in 40mm looks like 40mm is the Swiss army knife of grenades.

  • Graham 1

    The RLV-AD round is a must for any self-respecting fisherman’s tackle box

  • bull

    BBMG: supersonic bullets does not travel far below the surface. something like 1-2 meter. there was an interesting ep of mythbusters concerning this if you are interested.

  • Mike Knox

    The Anti-Diver Grenade reminds me of a baby bottle..