WIDOWMAKER | GRENADE LAUNCHER
Weight: 1.7 kg (3.3 lb)
Length: 520 mm (20.47 in.)
Barrel length: 400 mm (15.7 in.)
Cartridge: LY1020-series 40x43mm
Action: stacked-projectile, electronically-fired, caseless multishot system
Rate of Fire: 120 rounds per minute (cyclic)
45 rounds per minute (rapid)
Muzzle velocity : 76 m/s
Effective range (point targets): 250 m
Maximum range (with ER ammunition): 700 m
Feed system: tubular integral magazine
Can be deployed as an underbarrel weapon attachment, or a stand alone platform.
The LY67 ‘Widowmaker’ is a 3-round, electrically-fired, 40mm grenade launcher, able to be fired either as a stand-alone system, or as an underbarrel grenade launcher attachment.
In the early years of the 21st Century, an obscure Australian company came to prominence with its design for electrically firing sequentially stacked munitions. This company, Metal Storm, came to prominence based upon this design for munitions firing, and many individual systems have utilised its research.
It stated, of the 40mm grenade launcher capability:
"For decades, single shot 40mm grenade launchers like the M203 have been the only realistic way to provide a grenade launching capability mounted on the main personal weapon of the warfighting soldier. The lack of a multi-shot, semi-automatic capability for every soldier severely limits the operational effectiveness of the existing systems, as in the heat of battle a slow, manual reload is often untenable."
In May 2011, the Lyran Governmental Trade Department secured a 5% stake in Metal Storm, and took a particular interest in the company’s near-complete 3GL weapon system. The aptly named 3GL is a 40mm, three-shot semi-automatic grenade launcher that fits multiple infantry assault weapons, by means of the Picatinny rail system, and analogs. It was from this base that the Lyran Protectorate’s Research and Development Commission took the design, and have worked to refine it, focusing on the minimisation of weight, enhancement of reliability (from an already very high base), and improving ergonomics.
The LY67 differs fractionally in its construction from its MS3GL ancestor, with the 3GL’s plastic and steel replaced by high-durability, lightweight, impact-resistant fibreglass-reinforced polyamide and titanium. The cost of production is appreciably higher, but the savings in weight and consequent benefits in ergonomics have been determined to be well worth the additional cost. Parts of the weapon that are not directly involved in the firing process or exposed to the pressures of it are usually manufactured from synthetics, which assists in maintaining the weapon’s overall low-weight.
Due to the differing explosive composition mix in the propellant of standard Lyran 40mm ammunition, the propellant load is smaller, and the cases fractionally shorter, for an equal propulsion impulse. Due to this, the space occupied by the three loaded rounds within the ‘Widowmaker’ is slightly less than the equivalent volume within the first-flight Metal Storm 3GL. Consequently, the ‘Widowmaker’ is able to be marginally shorter, for no reduction in muzzle velocity, but an appreciable (and appreciated) reduction in weight.
Electrical systems are composed of indium gallium arsenide, specially selected for its extremely high degree of resistance to electronic or electromagnetic interference or attack. This is a point especially relevant for the LY67, given its electronic ignition system being so integral to its operation, and the necessary absence of a mechanical backup. Lyran experience with InGaAs is extensive, and the semiconductor is used in just about everything made in Lyras that is more sophisticated than a spoon, and implementation of it was a matter of course.
The primary difference between the LY67 and alternate under-barrel grenade launchers, such as the M203, AG36, or analogues, is in its operating and feed system. All other aspects of the LY67 are very much subordinate to it, and this is what sets the LY67 apart from other UBGLs on the market.
The LY67 uses a sequentially stacked, electric ignition system, of the same type pioneered by Australia’s ‘Metal Storm’ corporation. The firing system is utilised under license, and Lyran patronage of the company has pushed it comfortably up into the ASX100 listings. The ammunition is ‘semi-caseless’, along a similar principle to the Russian VOG-series, and Sumerian 20x100mm grenade round. The round is "caseless" not in the conventional sense, but in the sense that the cartridge case is an integral part of the round, is fixed to the round, and stays on it throughout the flight. When the round is fired the propellant in the base of the round burns through five ports in the bottom of the fixed case, pushing on the bolt and chamber of the rifle and moving the whole round down the barrel.
Further, the pressure from the expanding gases forces the projectile to engage with the rifling grooves along the inside of the barrel, imparting stabilizing spin. In flight the fixed case actually improves the projectile’s aerodynamics while residual gas emitting from the ports in the case provides small amounts of ongoing thrust, similar to that from a larger weapon’s base-bleed system.
Rounds are loaded by inserting of a tubular clip into the breech of the weapon. The individual rounds are pre-loaded into the clip, and the clip is insulated, and connector points shielded from interference. The clip can be ejected, and another clip loaded, en bloc. This also serves as a considerable time saving measure during combat conditions.
Extended-range rounds can be loaded into a clip as well, although this limits the clip capacity to two rounds.
As you’d expect, dealing with explosives requires a certain degree of safety consciousness. There are many parts to the safety system of the LY67, and they are as follows.
The first is a simple push-through safety, similar to that of the LY21. With the safety set to ‘safe’, the trigger is not able to be pulled to the rear. Further, not only can the trigger not be pulled, but the electrical system that controls the ignition sequence passes through the safety. Should it be set to safe, the circuit is not completed, and the weapon may not fire.
Should the weapon be set to fire, it still may not do so unless the trigger is pulled, again by means of circuit completion.
For safety DURING firing a microchip is used in the same manner as the earlier MS3GL. It is located at the barrel muzzle, and detects the passage of each projectile and locks the firing mechanism (of each subsequent shell) until the fired shell has cleared the muzzle.
Further, and lastly, the rounds themselves do not arm until 6m clear of the muzzle, by default, to prevent self-harm. The simple impact, of course, will still have an effect.
The weapon’s safety and readiness state is provided by a backlit display on the rear of the weapon’s battery port. The illumination is activated by a simple toggle switch. The display symbolism is as shown below:
The LY67 uses the LY1020-series ammunition, by default, a line of 40mm grenades optimised for use with 40mm, electrically-fired grenade launchers.. All 40mm projectiles are nearly identical in size to existing 40mm rounds, enabling the utilization of in-service ammunition carriage, without alteration.
Based firmly upon the electrically-fired rounds utilised in the MS3GL, the Lyran rounds are superficially very similar, with a number of slight differences.
There are three primary variants of the LY1020-series ammunition. The first is the LY1020 itself, a High Explosive, Dual Purpose (HEDP) weapon, using the same FOX-7 composition as found in the propellant of the LY1010-series 140mm AFV ammunition. While functionally similar to the load-out that is common to the M433 40x46mm round that is in-service the world over (with 50.8mm of penetration against steel with a direct impact, a 5m kill zone and 15m casualty radius in open ground), the LY1020 is more stable in its propellant, and also in its explosive itself, making it more reliable and consistent in application than the M433. LY1020-rounds are marked with a yellow nose cone.
The second of the LY1020-series is the LY1021 ‘Cerberus’ thermobaric round. Based on the explosive composition used in the LY1002 ‘Hellsbreath’ hand grenade, information was made available from that project to expedite development of the ‘Cerberus’.
In the original technological exploration, many factors were considered, and the design team was given considerable leeway to determine optimum composition, with categories of interest being listed as:
This mixture, YJ-05, designed by Ensign-Bickford Aerospace & Defense, was selected by the Lyran Protectorate for its LY1002 program, on the basis of these results, and also for the US Military's XM1060 40mm rounds. It is in this form that it also enters service in the LY1021 ‘Cerberus’ ammunition.
In usage, the YJ-05 filler drives both the ethylene oxide, and the energetic nanoparticularised-and-floridated aluminium, which is dispersed and rapidly ignites/combusts/detonates. The resultant sustained high pressure wave is phenomenally effective against enemy personnel and structures. The lethality effect results from a thermobaric overpressure blast rather than fragmentation. As a result of the thermobaric reaction, all enemy personnel within the effective radius will suffer lethal effects as opposed to the conventional fragmentation round, which can be halted by such things as heavy clothing or body armour. Body armour will NOT stop the effects of a thermobaric detonation, and the munition consciously seeks to take advantage of this fact. When taken in toto, the thermobaric explosives provide soldiers with a significantly greater probability of killing or incapacitating hostiles within the weapon's effective radius, in most circumstances. LY1021 ‘Cerberus’ rounds are painted with a red nose cone.
The LY1022 is the final variant available at this stage, and is an inert, refillable training round. It fires, and has an identical flight path to the LY1020 and -1021 combat rounds, but has no warhead, and, barring destruction caused upon landing, is re-usable. Nose cones are painted blue.
Extended-range variants are available, but these rounds are appreciably longer than the standard rounds, and a clip may only carry two of them. Further, the recoil generated is noticeably higher, due to the greater amount of propellant. That being said, the 200m gain in range is felt by some to be worth the trade in ammunition capacity and recoil.
It is expected that further rounds will be forthcoming, and preliminary reports indicate development progressing on CS, incendiary and smoke munitions.
Either ladder sights or a quadrant reflex sight can be fitted to the LY67 mount, whether underslung on a primary weapon, or used standalone, and the flight path can also be entered into BALCOTH interface for rapid, precision munitions employment.
When employed as a stand-alone system, any number of sights may be fitted, using the available dorsal, lateral or ventral Picatinny rail interfaces.