DGL-Swift Weapon System
DGL-Swift Weapon System.
Typically the non-specialist members of a platoon are designated “riflemen”. This may obscure the fact that the individual has other weapons available and these may be better suited to some applications.
The rifle remains a useful weapon system but its importance is overemphasized in some militaries. Beyond a certain range, individual rifle fire directed against an aware enemy becomes a waste of ammunition. Opinions on what distance this is varies, and will be affected by visibility and terrain. Tactically, the more prudent course may to engage distant targets with effective systems such as machine guns, autocannon, mortars, snipers, marksmen and anti-armour weapons. Riflemen remain concealed and conserve their ammunition for any assaults.
If riflemen must engage distant targets, volley fire can be used. In some Second World War manuals the acronym “DRINK” is suggested. This stands for Designation, Range, Indicators, Number and Kind. For example: “Alpha team! 400 metres north. Four o’clock from the tower, three fingers right: dark technical. Four rounds, rapid fire.” Volley fire can also be used to engage targets such as helicopters.
Direct fire will be of limited use against troops in entrenchments. The abundance of cover in urban operations will also limit the effectiveness of direct fire.
The rifleman’s main weapon for indirect attack is the hand-grenade. In another article I have suggested hand-grenades of a weight optimized for throwing. Greater quantities of these can be carried and used at longer distances. Even with these advantages, the practical range of the hand-grenade may be less than 40 metres. There is an obvious discrepancy here, since the rifle can engage targets at hundreds of metres. Enemy fire may prevent a rifleman closing to hand-grenade range.
One solution to this was the rifle-grenade. Many armies no longer issue rifle-grenades or they are not widely available. The recoil of launching a rifle-grenade can damage a rifle or affect its sights. Rifle grenades are low-velocity projectiles prone to wind effects, so sometimes lack the desired accuracy.
Spin-stabilized cartridge-grenades are widely used. These have a relatively modest effect area. They also require a dedicated launcher. Multi-shot launchers can walk rounds onto a target but these are generally too bulky to mount on a rifle. The need for a launcher makes cartridge-grenades the weapon of the specialist and not available to other riflemen. Range and long-range accuracy is limited by the low velocity.
A possible solution lies with a variant of the DGL concept I have proposed. I call this variant the “DGL-Swift”. A one-use launcher mounts on the rifle’s rail interface system (RIL). Mounted thus the round can be brought into action more quickly than a conventional rifle-grenade. The Swift projectile has a warhead of around double the size of a cartridge-grenade. The warhead may be created from a 40mm HEDP and HE cartridge-grenade warhead mounted in tandem. (The warhead of MBDA’s TiGER prototype was made from a pair of 40mm warheads.) Alternately, a 40mm HEDP warhead might have a cylindrical fragmentation charge fastened behind it. The equivalent of two cartridge grenade shells is probably the optimum for engaging personnel and non-tank targets. The final Swift round may be of a larger calibre than 40mm for better hollow-charge warhead performance.
The Swift projectile is launched at a relatively modest velocity to reduce stresses on the rifle and its user. A few metres after launch, the booster rocket ignites and accelerates the projectile to full velocity. MBDA proposed a velocity of 450 m/s for their “Sniper/ Shooter” anti-personnel rocket concept. A supersonic velocity places constraints on the design and materials of the projectile that seem unnecessary for its intended role. Personally I think such a high velocity is unnecessary and a velocity of 250-270 m/s would be adequate for its role and facilitate development and production of the Swift.
Standard Swift round would most probably be a HEAT-MP-Frag or EFP-Frag warhead. This gives some capability against lightly-armoured vehicles, helicopters and barricades.
Fire Control System
Part of an infantryman’s role is observation and reporting so it comes as no surprise that we are beginning to see camera systems mounted on infantry weapons. This is one of the roles of the Israeli MPRS system. This also mounts a laser rangefinder and digital compass. In grenade mode the system measures the distance to the target and adjusts the aiming display accordingly. The system also programs the grenade, offering an air-burst option. This system works with both muzzle-launched rifle-grenades and underbarrel cartridge-grenade launchers.
Combining such a fire control system with the DGL-Swift gives the individual rifleman a weapon that can accurately place a useful quantity of explosive right over an enemy position.
Without a compatible fire control system Swifts can still be “dumb-fired” and act as useful impact-fused mini-missiles.
The DGL-Swift may evolve further. Some larger missiles use an trajectory-correction system to compensate for drift and drop. Put simply, the projectile attempts to keep flying along the straight line it was aimed on. Such technology may be applicable to DGL-Swift projectiles. If a projectile can steer itself it can be programmed with flight courses other than a straight line. Programmed for a curved course a round could be dropped right inside a foxhole. The curved course needn’t be vertical. We might see rounds curved around corners. It is possible homing variants of the Swift may eventually appear.
The DGL-Swift gives every rifleman in a platoon a potent direct and indirect-fire explosive weapon. When suitable targets present themselves it may be used in preference to conventional rifle fire. One can imagine the disruptive effect that a volley of a dozen or more such rounds fired during an ambush or assault will have.
Six-Shooters and Other Launch Systems
There may be other applications for DGL-Swifts. Many shoulder-launched munitions (SLM) use a disposable launch tube with a reusable firing/ sighting unit or CLU (command launch unit). Compatible pods containing six DGL-Swifts could be developed. This gives a weapon team a multi-shot weapon for engaging light or unarmoured vehicles, helicopters and personnel. Such “six-shooter” pods may also be mounted on vehicles. Single DGLs can be used to arm small UAV/robotic systems. They can also be adapted for use as off-route mines that can be used in both urban and rural terrain.
There is also a place in the armoury for a stand-alone DGL launcher (VISAL, from VI(6)-shot stand-alone launcher). This would resemble a pistol grip with a retractable stock and several mounting brackets for single DGL tubes and six-shooter pods. The assembly also incorporates sighting and fire-control systems. The device would look somewhat like the buttstocks used with some photographic cameras. Normally the weapon would be loaded with a six-shooter pod. Alternately it can mount up to three single-DGL tubes, one on the main upper bracket and one on each side on secondary brackets. Fitted with canister-loaded tubes the VISAL is a compact alternative to a shotgun. Using superimposed loads each tube may hold several shots. With a solid frangible loading the VISAL would be useful for breaching doors. On its own the VISAL can be used as a ranging and observation device and may incorporate a digital recording system for intelligence gathering.
As described in the earlier article, DGL launch tubes can be used for other munitions. Tubes of “door-knocker” concussion grenades, as suggested elsewhere, will prove useful in urban or close terrain.
The use of DGLs is complemented by hand-grenades as described elsewhere. Rifle-grenades, or combined rifle/hand-grenades will be used for applications such as delivering smoke, since this does not need the accuracy nor the performance of the proposed DGL-Swift system. Such smoke grenades form a team-level asset that supplements the smoke rounds of a platoon-level mortar.