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Rheinmetall Hydra / Squad Support Weapon SSW-40 grenade launcher (Germany)

The Rheinmetall Squad Support Weapon SSW-40 grenade launcher was officially presented for the first time at the Eurosatory exhibition in 2022. However, the SSW-40 grenade launcher is obviously based on the Rheinmetall Hydra, a prototype 40mm weapon which first appeared as a conceptual design in 2011 and was in development ever since. As of the moment of this writing (late 2022), the Rheinmetall SSW-40 is still in development and testing stage.

 

Rheinmetall Hydra
the Rheinmetall Hydra, a conceptual art from 2011

 

Rheinmetall Hydra
the Rheinmetall Hydra, experimental prototype from 2014

 

The Rheinmetall Squad Support Weapon SSW-40 grenade launcher is a hand-held automatic weapon, designed to fire 40mm Medium Velocity (40x51mm MV) grenade ammunition, also developed by the Rheinmetall. This ammunition fills the gap between the standard 40x46mm grenade ammunition (currently also known as the 40mm LV – Low Velocity), intended for hand-held weapons such as M79 or M203, and the 40x53mm High Velocity rounds, developed for the crew-served, mounted automatic grenade launchers such as Mk.19. The 40x51mm MV ammunition has muzzle velocity of 100 m/s, compared to 75 m/s velocity of 40x46mm LV rounds. This 25% velocity increase allows for significant improvements in hit probability and effective range, from 400 to 600-800 meters, but also causes much severe recoil, which requires special recoil mitigation techniques.

 

The Rheinmetall Squad Support Weapon SSW-40 grenade launcher
The Rheinmetall Squad Support Weapon SSW-40 grenade launcher, as shown in 2022

 

The Rheinmetall SSW-40 grenade launcher is a semi-automatic or a select-fire weapon (sources are not clear on this). It uses simple blowback action, but to cope with increased recoil of the 40mm MV rounds the bolt has a built-in hydraulic buffer. Ammunition is fed from the detachable box magazines, with varying capacities, from 4 to 10 rounds. It must be noted that even the 6-round magazine is quite bulky and weights around 2 kg fully loaded, and the 10-round magazine is a 4-kilogram monstrosity about a half-meter high. The SSW-40 grenade launcher is equipped with Picatinny rails which can be used to mount various sighting equipment, including modern electro-optical sights with lase range-finders, ballistic computers and wireless interfaces, used to program air-bursting warheads.

 

 

 Rheinmetall SSW-40
Rheinmetall SSW-40 grenade launcher demosntration

 

Provisional specifications for the Rheinmetall SSW-40 grenade launcher

  • Caliber: 40 mm (40x51mm MV)
  • Length: ~850 mm
  • Weight: ~ 4kg empty, ~8 kg with full 10-round magazine
  • Magazine capacity: 4, 6, 8 or 10 rounds
  • Maximum effective range: 800 meters