Technical Specifications: HPGL Grenade Launcher
CLASSIFIED LEVEL YELLOW
PHALANX Extraterrestrial Response Unit
Technical Document, Delta Clearance
Filed: 20 March 2084
By: Cdr. Paul Navarre, R&D: Engineering Division, PHALANX, Atlantic Operations Command
The alien attack on Mumbai made our situation painfully clear. Their technology is far more advanced than ours. The complete inability of Commonwealth troops to make a dent in the Mumbai offensive revealed critical weaknesses in current military training and equipment. They lost three battalions just bringing the aliens to a standstill without inflicting significant casualties. PHALANX has to overcome these odds, and to do that we need the very best human technology has to offer.
The Excalibur Program was created to find the most effective weapons on Earth by reviewing their manufacturing standards, durability, operational record, and their combat performance in the situations where we've managed to bring the aliens to battle.
First released on the open market in 2047, the Brazilian RA6 has received numerous upgrades over the years that have kept it at the top of its field. It is the most widely-used infantry grenade launcher in use today because of its excellent reliability and low weight. It has an impressive selection of compatible cartridges in the popular 25mm calibre.
The RA6 carries up to 6 grenades individually loaded into a simple rotary cylinder. The cylinder is hinged at the front and breaks open to accept reloads. Reloading individual grenades can be a slow and agonising process, but this is often the best way of going about it; while 25mm speedloaders do exist and will work on the RA6, they are bulky and hard to carry around.
The weapon has two fire modes; timed shot, which will detonate grenades at a set time after leaving the barrel, and airburst, which will detonate grenades in the air after they have travelled a certain distance. The RA6's maximum rate of fire is one round per second on semi-automatic, or it can rapidly cycle through its cylinder on burst mode, firing quick three-round bursts that can devastate whole areas.
Standard ammunition for the RA6 is the 25mm HIT (High Impulse Thermobaric) grenade, which is a 'fuel-air munition' that uses atmospheric oxygen to generate an explosion instead of carrying along an oxidising agent. Thermobaric weapons produce a far more powerful explosive force than would be possible with conventional explosives of the same size. They rely on explosive energy, concussion and heat for their lethality rather than on fragmentation like most conventional explosives.
This is one of the most versatile and effective weapons on our roster. While not as powerful as the rocket launcher, it is a reliable support weapon and infantry artillery piece.
For PHALANX use, we have given this grenade launcher the classification HPGL.
The HPGL is a tactician's dream come true. It has excellent damage and range, can hit several clustered targets with one blast, and can be used for special tasks such as area denial with incendiary grenades. It can be as effective in close situations as it is in large open spaces; however, different tactics are required.
The airburst mode is preferable for use in open ground; it sacrifices some range by taking away the 'bounce' factor, but this also has its benefits. The bounce factor can seriously foul accuracy if the grenade lands on an uneven surface and can allow the enemy to run away or take cover before detonation. Airburst fire also allows the operator to place his grenades exactly where he wants them. Unless there is a catastrophic detonator failure, any airburst fired from the HPGL will go off at the intended spot with little chance for mechanical error.
In close situations, timed grenades can be bounced off walls and around corners to reach dangerous or inconvenient places that other weapons have trouble getting a bead on. However, care should be taken that the operator doesn't fire shots that leave himself or any friendly troops inside the blast radius. This would make the operator very unpopular with what's left of the team. Due to the bounce factor on timed grenades, they can also be a severe hazard to nearby civilians. Use of the grenade launcher in situations where civilians might become victim to collateral damage is strongly discouraged.
For close-range emergency work -- for example if the operator has no sidearm -- the launcher can also be loaded with special 25mm flechette shells similar to our shotgun shells. These have less damage potential than shotgun shells due to their lower muzzle velocity, but they can still be deadly in close quarters and, unlike explosive grenades, are not a risk to the operator at short ranges.
Along with sniper rifles and rocket launchers, this is one of the few standard-issue human weapons that are fully effective against robotic aliens.