The South Korean arms industry has become increasingly effective in providing its military with local solutions to emerging problems. Case-in-point is the K2 assault rifle (detailed elsewhere on this site) which succeeded the long-running American M16A1 series. Similarly the K6 Heavy Machine Gun (HMG) has replaced the American Browning M2 0.50 caliber system in the South Korean military inventory. Add to this resume the K201, a single-shot 40mm Under-Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) component that works in conjunction with the K2 series rifles and the standard South Korean infantryman is given a grenadier capability.
A typical South Korean Army infantry unit showcases a pair of grenadier infantry for on-call support firepower. This is in addition to standard riflemen and a Light Machine Gun (LMG) unit.
In both form and function, the K201 acts as the American M203 40mm UBGL . It fires the standard 40x46mm grenade as both a direct and indirect Line-of-Sight (LoS) weapon useful against dug-in / fortified enemy units at range. The blast power is also sufficient for room-clearing prior to entry and disabling light-armored vehicles. Reloading fresh projectiles and extracting spent casings is accomplished by working the ribbed slide forward to expose the breech. A trigger unit is integral to the function of the grenade launcher but the magazine of the K2 rifle acts as the de facto pistol grip. Sighting is through an additional attachment near the muzzle of the K2 rifle barrel (as in the M203 series). Internally the barrel is rifled for projectile stabilization upon launch.
The K201 joins a slew of other weapon systems introduced into the South Korean military in the past decade, the services forging ahead to remain a modern and effective fighting force in the shadow of the massive North Korean force.
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