New Weapon Enhances Lethality of Infantry Marines
by U.S. Marine Corps Matt Gonzales,
June 15, 2019
The Marine Corps plans to introduce a new weapon intended to
enhance the lethality of infantry Marines on the battlefield.
The M320A1 is a grenade launcher that can be employed as a
stand-alone weapon or mounted onto another, such as the M27 Infantry
Automatic Rifle. Scheduled to be fielded in fiscal year 2020, the
system will give fleet Marines the ability to engage with enemies
near and far, day or night.
Capt. Nick Berger, project officer in Infantry Weapons at Marine Corps Systems Command, holds the M320A1 during a weeklong review of the system. In March 2019, MCSC’s Ground Combat Element Systems examined the M320A1 to ensure the operator and maintenance technical publications of the system are accurate. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Joseph Neigh, Systems Command)
“The M320A1 will provide good range and accuracy, making the
infantry squad more lethal,” said Lt. Col. Tim Hough, program
manager for Infantry Weapons in Marine Corps Systems Command’s
Ground Combat Element Systems.
The functionality of the
M320A1 makes it unique, said Hough. Its ability to be used as a
stand-alone or in conjunction with a firearm should help warfighters
combat enemy forces. The weapon will replace the M203 grenade
launcher, currently employed by Marines.
“The mounted version
of the M320A1 is a capability we’re currently working on so that
Marines have that option should they want it,” added Hough.
Before the Marine Air-Ground Task Force receives the M320A1, the
Corps must draft technical documents for the weapon. These
publications provide Marines with further information about the
In early March, Ground Combat Elements Systems
collaborated with fleet maintenance Marines and logisticians from
Albany, Georgia, conducting various analyses to determine
provisioning, sustainment and new equipment training requirements
for the system.
The first evaluation was a Level of Repair
Analysis, or LORA. A LORA determines when a system component will be
replaced, repaired or discarded. This process provides information
for helping operational forces quickly fix the weapon should it
The LORA establishes the tools required to perform a
task, test equipment needed to fix the product and the facilities to
house the operation.
“It’s important to do the LORA now in a
deliberate fashion so that we don’t do our work in front of the
customer,” explained Hough. “And it ensures the system they get is
ready to go, helping them understand the maintenance that must be
A Marine prepares to shoot an M320 mounted on an M4 rifle at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 6, 2017. In March 2019, Marine Corps Systems Command’s Ground Combat Element Systems examined the M320A1 to ensure the operator and maintenance technical publications of the system are accurate. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by LCpl. Taylor W. Cooper)
The second evaluation was a Job Training Analysis, which provides
the operational forces with a training package that instructs them
on proper use of the system to efficiently engage adversaries on the
“This process helps us ensure this weapon is
both sustainable and maintainable at the operator and Marine
Corps-wide level,” said Capt. Nick Berger, project officer in
Infantry Weapons at MCSC. “It sets conditions for us to field the
Sustainability is a key factor in any
systems acquisition process. The goal of the LORA and Job Training
Analysis is to ensure the operator and maintenance technical
publications of a system are accurate, which reduces operational
ambivalence and improves the grenade launcher’s sustainability.
The LORA is an ongoing
process that continues throughout the lifecycle of the M320A1 to
establish sustainability, said Hough. After fielding the M320A1, the
Corps will monitor the system to ensure it is functioning properly.
During this time, the program office will make any adjustments
and updates necessary.
“We’re looking to have the new
equipment training and fielding complete prior to fourth quarter of
FY19 to ensure they can be used and maintained properly once they
hit the fleet,” said Berger.
The analyses, which occurred
over the course of a week, were no easy task.
“This was an
extensive and arduous process,” explained Hough. “We scheduled three
days for the LORA—all day—so you’re looking at about 24 hours of
work for the LORA. And that doesn’t include reviews, briefs and
refinements to the package.”
However, at the end of the week,
Hough expressed gratitude for all parties involved in the M320A1
analyses, which he called a success. He said the tasks could not
have been completed without the help of several key individuals.
“I will tell you what’s noteworthy is working with our contract
support, the outside agencies and the deliberate efforts by our
team—specifically Capt. Nick Berger and Steve Fetherolf, who is a
logistician,” said Hough. “Those two have made a significant effort
to get this together and move forward.”
Berger also expressed
pride about the accomplishments of the analyses.
has been a success,” he said. “We got the system in Marines’ hands,
worked out the kinks and began to understand how we’re going to use
this moving forward.”
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