The M-98 Non-Lethal Distraction Grenade is the latest in a growing supply of non-lethal munitions available to American Soldiers.
Under the direction of the Project Manager for Close Combat Systems (PM CCS), the grenade was developed by engineers at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center at Edgewood, Md., and Rock Island, Ill.
The grenade reached Full Materiel Release on May 2011. That means the Army has rigorously tested and evaluated the item and determined it is safe to use, operationally suitable and logistically supportable for use by Soldiers.
It received a Full Rate Production Decision in June 2011, meaning that production of the required quantities can commence at Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark.
Once grenades are accepted into the Army inventory, Soldiers can requisition and obtain them if they are authorized to have it for their mission.
Army Major Commands would request and receive authorizations for the munition based upon the number of 66mm Grenade Launchers that are assigned to their subordinate commands.
Within each grenade are three sub munitions. Each round is capable of launching three distraction grenades simultaneously. Upon hitting the ground, each grenade explodes with a visible flash and loud bang, providing a pronounced warning without harming civilians or Soldiers.
"It's primarily designed for crowd control, civil disturbances and uprisings at detainee facilities," said Eric Niver, a combat developer for the Army's Non-Lethal Distraction Grenade at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
The grenade will be implemented full time by military personnel, as it is intended for use at checkpoints to provide a visual and audible warning for incoming pedestrians and drivers who need to slow down.
The M-98 is used with the standard Light Vehicle Smoke Obscuration System (LVOSS) to launch a type of munition capable of protecting American forces without harming innocent civilians.
"The grenades launch from the system " the hardware is the 66-millimeter launcher," Niver said. "The grenade itself is fired from that, on vehicles like the M1."
The grenade is the first of its kind. It has a range of up to 150 meters, making it very useful to Soldiers when confronted with an escalation-of-force situation or when seeking to contain riots or warn civilians to retreat.
The M-98 has not yet been shipped to troops. The first 1,899 grenades were delivered to Crane Army Ammunition Activity in Indiana and are available for use by American troops.
The PM CCS is part of the Army's Program Executive Office for Ammunition. Both organizations and the ARDEC are headquartered at Picatinny Arsenal.
Article by Mark Sanchez, Army.mil