Rippel Effect will unveil a new six shot less lethal grenade launcher at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exhibition this week.
The new launcher was built after consultation with top less lethal grenade ammunition manufacturers as well as experienced SWAT officers and builds their requirements and recommendations into the design, according to Fritz Visser, CEO of Rippel Effect.
One of the key features of the new launcher is that it lets the operator skip backwards as well as forwards between rounds – an important feature recommended by experienced SWAT operators who have a requirement to load a cocktail of rounds and the ability to choose between them without opening the launcher.
The 3.5 kg weapon has been designed to only fire less lethal ammunition, and if regular low velocity military grade ammunition is fired, a spring disables the weapon.
Brazil’s Condor Non-Lethal Technologies, one of the world’s leading non-lethal ammunition manufacturers, has the rights to distribute the weapon in Brazil and certain other countries while ALS Technologies, which also sells less lethal/riot control equipment, has distribution rights for the United States. Visser said he also wants to offer the new weapon to the South Africa Police Service (SAPS).
Visser told defenceWeb that the less lethal equipment market was worth billions of dollars and is growing hugely – it is expected to double by 2020, according to Ian Dunbar from Homeland Security Research Corp. “We believe there is a market for a dedicated/proper six shot less lethal launcher since this market segment has been dominated by single-shot launchers and multi-shot launchers watered down from the mil spec ones”.
Rippel Effect is focusing on three main products: the less lethal launcher, the XRGL40 launcher and IGS-4S targeting and sighting system. The XRGL40 can fire low velocity, medium velocity and less lethal ammunition, including rubber, ball, soft-nose, illuminating and smoke grenades. The 5 kg XRGL40 fires a 220 gram medium velocity projectile to a range of 800 metres, versus 375 metres for low velocity ammunition – as such the weapon is smaller and lighter than other extended range launchers.
Designed as a true multi-role weapon system, it comes with the GR40 smart multi-velocity sight, which allows the soldier to fire 40 mm ammunition with different ballistic profiles from the same weapon – both 40×46 mm low-velocity and 40×51 mm medium-velocity grenades and also the latest less-lethal rounds.
Rippel Effect started marketing the six shot XRGL40 launcher in 2011/12 and in the last two years has sold 1800 launchers to six countries, primarily in the Middle East, Latin America and Far East. Visser said he hoped to add two more countries by the end of the year for the weapon.
Only a few companies around the world are currently developing medium velocity 40 mm ammunition, such as Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), which qualified its 40 x 51 mm medium velocity round with the XRGL40. Rippel Effect has qualified Diehl’s 40 x 51 mm medium velocity ammunition in the XRGL40 and certification is underway at present. The two companies are offering the weapon and ammunition in certain markets as part of an agreement entered into last year.
Other companies Rippel Effect is working with regarding medium velocity ammunition include Energetics Technologies Ltd in the UK and Indumil in Columbia, with Rippel Effect providing the launchers for these companies. Visser said that a whole new weapon and sighting system had to be developed for the medium velocity ammunition as traditional 40 mm grenade launchers cannot deal with the added stresses, and their sights are inadequate for the longer ranges.
Apart from the six shot XRGL40, Rippel Effect also offers its UBL40 under-barrel grenade launcher for assault rifles, especially the AK-47 series. Visser said the company is currently testing a lightweight aluminium barrel. The underbarrel launcher was qualified two months ago and samples are being sent to three different potential customers. Visser said that although the AK refurbishment market is not an easy one, the company has a solution which needs no mechanical changes to the rifle and which does not change the stoppage or maintenance routines with the weapon and this is attractive to certain customers.