The Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Estimates Justification Book for the United States Marine Corps procurement gives us some insight into the Corps small arms aims for the next couple of years. The Marine Corps looks set to begin its transition to the M320 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher next year.
The USMC’s initial $810,000 order for M320s will be placed with Capco LLC, the US military’s sole source for the 40x46mm grenade launcher. The first batch is set to number 623 M320s at a cost of $1,300 each. A development of Heckler & Koch’s AG36/AG-C, the M320 will replace the venerable M203.
The order for the new under barrel grenade launchers is part of a near $30 million expected to be spent on the USMC’s Family of Infantry Weapons Systems. The FY2019 justification book explains logic behind the move to the M320:
The M320 Grenade Launcher will replace the M203 in Marine Infantry and Infantry-like units. Due to its side breach, the M320 will allow for the use of more capable 40mm grenades for counter-defilade, breaching and non-lethal applications.
In the summer of 2017, the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion was one of the first Marine Corps units to test the new launcher which has been in service with the US Army since 2009. Back in June 2017, Miles reported that the USMC was looking to eventually field at least 7,000 M320s with hopes to field the first with the Fleet Marines by 2019 at the earliest, the Corps looks set to achieve this.
When the news of the M320s adoption was first announced the Marine Corps confirmed that “the infantry will be the first to receive the M320, then expanding out to combat engineer squads, reconnaissance teams, Light Armored Reconnaissance companies, Marine Special Operations Teams, and MOS training locations.”
Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Estimates Justification Book for the United States Marine Corps Procurement Vol.1, Feb. 2018, (source)