The Mk 47 "Striker" stands as the successor to the Mk 19 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher (AGL) of American origin. The original Mk 19 appeared in 1968 and has seen considerable wartime service since including operations in the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the Gulf War (1991) and the Lebanon War (2006) as well as the American involvement in Afghanistan (2001-Present) and Iraq (2003-2011). The Mk 47 is designed to fire the same 40x53mm grenade projectile as the Mk 19 and this includes various warhead types to suit mission role. However, the Mk 47 broadens its tactical value in the field for its support of "smart" PPHE programmable air-burst type grenades. Additionally, the Mk 47 has been engineered as a more lightweight design (40lbs versus 77lbs) than the Mk 19. It entered active testing as early as 2002 before seeing operational service with select special forces units of the United States military - combat centered primarily in Afghanistan.
As of this writing (2014), only Israel is mentioned as a foreign operator of the Mk 47 Striker system.
Despite its age, the 40mm grenade projectile still stands as the widely accepted grenade munition of the West (Russia favors a 30mm type). The original single-shot M79 "Bloop Tube" of Vietnam War fame utilized this projectile as has the long-running M203 Under-Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) and the storied Mk 19 AGL currently in widespread service around the globe. The Mk 47 continues this trend though with broader acceptance of all-new 40x53mm grenade types. Its programmable air-burst munitions are a further evolution of the standard projectile form - allowing the operator to calculate (assisted by an onboard computer) a target's position and imprint this upon the outgoing projectile. The projectile then detonates at the preprogrammed area above or near the target - regardless of whether the target is concealed in a foxhole or behind a wall.
Despite its relatively handy weight, the Mk 47 makes use of a robust design featuring a large, boxy receiver containing the critical working components of the weapon. The feed is along the left side of the system, ahead of the receiver mass, with the ejection port fitted at right. Projectiles are fed via a continuous belt held in a hardened case. The barrel sits within a stout tube design with no visible muzzle accessory being fitted. Air burst rounds are programmed via an AN/PWG-1 LightWeight Video Sight (LWVS) system coupled to an onboard ballistic computer. A laser rangefinder is also incorporated into the Mk 47's workings to assist in accuracy with ranged fire. The integral sighting device also allows for vision in low-light and night time hours and there is support for optional optics and sensors along a section of Picatinny rail. The weapon will typically sit atop a heavy-duty tripod assembly with the gunner seated behind though it can also be adapted to vehicle, watercraft, and helicopter mounts as in the Mk 19 series.
Overall weight of the Mk 47 weapon is 40lbs while the entire system (gun, mounting and tripod) comes in at 90lbs. Overall length is 37 inches with a barrel length of 24 inches. An operator can achieve a rate-of-fire of up to 60 rounds-per-minute (300rpm cyclic).
To date (2014), there have been several production contracts granted to manufacturer General Dynamics related to the Mk 47.