Thermite grenades are one of the most destructive weapons used by the U.S. military.
A wide variety of hand grenades are used today by the U.S. military. Hand grenades are loosely defined as any anti-personnel device that explodes on release. The M67 is the current fragmentation or “frag” grenade used by American and Canadian soldiers. However, the most destructive hand grenade used by U.S. soldiers is the thermite grenade.
A powerful incendiary device, thermite grenades produce intense heat through a chemical reaction. Thermite is known as a "pyrotechnic composition" that burns intensely when ignited. When detonated, thermite grenades produce molten iron from a violent reaction of the weapon’s thermite filler. Some thermite grenades have been known to burn at temperatures of nearly 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The extreme heat makes thermite grenades good for destroying weapons caches, bunkers and vehicles. Thermite grenades are capable of burning through an engine block in seconds.
Because of their heat and volatility, thermite grenades are almost never used as an offensive or defensive weapon against people. The weapon is used almost exclusively for destroying enemy materials in a secure and controlled environment.
And, because thermite grenades use iron oxide as an oxidizing agent, they are able to function underwater and can be used by soldiers submerged in lakes, rivers and oceans. The U.S. military provides detailed instructions to soldiers on the careful handling and use of thermite grenades to avoid injury or harm.