South Korean K-11 has plagued by problems, government disagrees

Back in 2009 I reported that South Korea’s K11 OICW-style weapon was to be the first of its class to be deployed. Since then I had heard nothing about it and seen no evidence that the deployment went though until two articles that appeared last week on Korean news websites.

Daewoo K11

Chosun.com has reported a range of problems with the new weapon. Apparently 39 K-11 are fielded in total. Of that 20 are in Afghanistan. 7 of 20 in Afghanistan are faulty. The laser range finder has a bug and refuses to reset, one unit has a problem with the barrel and with correctly programming the airburst grenade, another has a condensation problem with the receiving lens and so range measurement does not work at night and another unit fires bursts of 5.56mm instead of single shots when in semi-auto. It sounds like some very poor quality control!

Another news website,MK.co.kr, reported that production has been delayed due to manufacturing problems.

DAPA, the Korean defense acquisition agency, responded by saying there are no production problems and the only problem with the gun that has not yet been solved it is one related to the fire control system.

[ Many thanks to the uribury871 who for info, links and translation. ]



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Some Guy

    Not to be unexpected. A weapon system like this is sure to be full of bugs, and out matching the U.S. is highly unlikely, although, it still defeats the United States system in many aspects.

    Generally to be expected, but over-all I think that the weapon is a success, in concept. Improved quality control could set this weapon over the edge.

  • MibZ

    A good concept, but it isn’t cost efficient and as stated here, has a great potential to fail.

  • Tom Stone

    It looks heavy and badly balanced, how awkward is it to handle and shoot? You have to carry the damn things…

  • jdun1911

    Look how small those grenades are with the 5.56 rounds next to it. I don’t see how you can kill anybody with that.

    As far as I know the Koreans are not in a combat zone or seen combat often. They are very lucky to find out the problems without losing Korean kids in the process.

  • Bandito762

    This seems a lot like he masterkey concept. Cool in theory but in reality it is super heavy, awkward, and unnecessary. It seems like the same thing could be accomplished with a single shot under barrel system. (Having never handled the weapon or the M203 or actually ever serving in combat)

  • Nadnerbus

    Bandito, the whole concept requires the fire control computer to be effective. The laser range finder and the computer set the range to the target so the round can detonate at the appropriate distance. It’s the computer and sight that makes the thing so unwieldy. The US did the right thing by decoupling the grenade launcher from the assault rifle.

    Also, how did they managed to screw up the assault rifle part? Full auto when on single shot? That’s not exactly cutting edge technology.

    Maybe they should get Jeff Bridges to do commercials for them to tell everyone how they no longer suck as much as they used to =P

  • Lance

    Like the OICW the Daewoo runs into similar problems the fact is a K-2 can do the same shooting and a M-203 can shoot slower BUT it will work!

    Go back to regular weapons.

  • jdun1911

    Nadnerbus,

    My personal opinion of decoupling the two part was a mistake. The whole program is a mistake.

    The XM25 is at platoon/squad level. That translate to somebody going have to give up their current setup in order to carry the weapon. It means his only defensive weapon will be the M9. It also means if he runs out of grenades he becomes a liability to the team.

  • Theodoric

    It’s just field-testing. These things always have problems initially.

  • subase

    Seems the electronic technology isn’t robust enough for prime time military usage. And South Korea has a highly developed electronic, semiconductor and software industry. If they can’t make it work noone can, at least not right now.

    It would be wise and way cheaper to take a wait and see view approach before investing in their own version.

  • The sight unit looks incredibly bulky compared to the XM25. The US obviously have the lead in this technology race- and the XM25 works. Rather have it and an M4 than have to manoeuvre that thing around. Imagine trying to clear a building with the K-11.

    And as Lance points out standard 40mm grenades are becoming increasingly sophisticated. There is an airburst grenade available- doesn’t have the precise aiming of the K-11 or the XM25 but it does have a much larger warhead.

    The concept sounds good but the US made the right decision in breaking the OICW apart and moving forward on the XM25 as a solo project. The two weapons combined are just too heavy and bulky for the modern warfighter.

  • Sian

    @jdun1911

    There’s a reason the OICW program abandoned 20mm grenades for 25mm during development, the 20mm grenades just didn’t have adequate lethality.

  • Mountainbear

    Speaking as someone who did his boot camp in light infantry (which Gebirgsjäger essentially are), I wouldn’t want to lug this thing around. And I’m 6’8″… I’d rather carry more ammo for my STG77.

    I also wouldn’t want to use it in the conditions that I’d have to fight under in case of a war (snow, cold, heavy terrain.) This thing would quickly turn into a heavy and very expensive club.

    It’s a cool toy and in theory very nice. I just don’t see how it would be very useful in urban or mountain warfare.

  • Adam A

    What’s the LOP on that thing? Looks like 15″+.

  • Terry

    “the only problem with the gun that has not yet been solved it is one related to the fire control system”

    You mean the system that makes the thing go bang?

    Yeah, that’s not so bad.

    Sheesh!

  • Some Guy

    “Look how small those grenades are with the 5.56 rounds next to it. I don’t see how you can kill anybody with that.”

    So 5.56mm rounds, 7.62mm x 51mm NATO rounds, and hell, .50 caliber round are incapable of killing people?

    Right.

    Sounds like somebody needs a dose of reality.

    20mm grenades are about 1/4 the size of 40mm grenades, so, it’s not that big of a deal, anyways.

    1 gram of c-4 can blow a person’s face off, just go watch deadliest warrior, or any youtube video for “1 gram of c-4”. This thing has about 20-50 grams in it, plus shrapnel. Yeah, it’s lethal. Ridiculously lethal. Why can’t you visual it? Idk, maybe because you don’t own C-4 and have set it off. Get back to me on the “flexibility” of titanium.

  • jdun1911

    Keep in mind the XM25 is bulky too.

    Sian,

    25mm is still too small.

    Some Guy,

    I know what I’m talking about.

    You need propellant to launch the grenade. You got electronics to arm the grenade. You need shrapnel. You need the explosive to launch the shrapnel. That’s a lot of things to put into a small package don’t you think.

  • Some Guy

    You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about, because you’re questioning whether or not a grenade can kill a person. Not just by lobbing it at a person, but by specifically timing when said explosive will explode, and shooting it straight an individual to explode within not only the optimal range point to cause the most damage, but potentially next to them, in front of them, behind them etc. so that one does not even need to HIT the target to kill it, but simply get near it, or them.

    A High Explosive, Incendiary Armor piercing, or HEIAP .50 caliber round, is around 45-50 grams, for the entire bullet. Most of that, is, you guessed it, actually a bullet, or lead. The 11 grams of it that is high explosive, can apparently kill three people, through a brick wall.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raufoss_Mk_211

    Yeah, it will freaking kill.

    • Some Guy, airburst do not kill with the blast (pressure wave) from explosize. They kill using shrapnel. I do not believe a Mk 211 could kill three people through a brick wall, without a whole lot of luck.

  • Gerald

    As someone pointed out, the reason why only 20 of them were fielded was because they were obviously prototypes, ready for field testing. They use them until they break, take them back, figure out what went wrong, correct the mistakes, and send the next generation out. Repeat ad-infinitum until you have something that, many years from now, is considered to be the “old reliable” equipment, that we should be be sticking to instead of trying out whatever prototype laser cannons are in development.

  • jinwlgnss

    weight isn’t that bad to be honest. it is only 6.1kg in total making it a similar to SAW and far less then m240.
    it seems bulky but whole length is about 900mm making it about as long as m16a4 rifle.
    if that is too bulky and heavy I’d say you went to wrong army.

    the actual problem is, trying to make a weapon (rather whole new weapon system) with ridiculous amount of R&D budget. I am 200% sure that US government spent more money on developing (or purchasing) m16 rifle from colt than whole R&D budget for k11.
    this resulted in less than 10 engineers given 3years or less time to develop a brand new weapon system.

    current update on news is that they have arrested CEO and chairs of EOsystem (developing company for K11) for embezzlement of R&D budget. and the development might be handed over to Samsung tales.

  • “25mm is still too small.

    I know what I’m talking about.

    You need propellant to launch the grenade. You got electronics to arm the grenade. You need shrapnel. You need the explosive to launch the shrapnel. That’s a lot of things to put into a small package don’t you think.”

    Maybe, but you’re missing a lot as well. In order for the counter defilade system to work, you need a relatively flat trajectory. Otherwise the round deviates from the fire control solution considerably and the detonation point doesn’t work. 25mm is about the upper limit before you have to start slashing muzzle velocity to keep recoil palatable.

  • Some Guy

    Regardless of what you may think, the device will still kill. A 76 m/s 40mm grenade will kill a person from raw kinetic energy alone, I.E if you hit a person.

    A 25mm grenade is about 4 times smaller, but it’s traveling about 2.75 times faster (76 to 210 m/s), and when you do the math (1/2 (mass)(velocity)^2) it has about twice (1.9 times) the kinetic energy as the 40mm grenade. Which means the raw kinetic energy of this thing hitting in the face, or even the chest or gut, is enough to kill you.

    It also means that sabots, buckshot, and various other types of kinetic energy rounds, for use in the 25mm grenade, have about twice the power of a 40mm grenade, and a much farther range (as per the velocity).

    The .50 caliber round CAN kill three people through a brick wall, not that it will. As you said, it takes a lot of luck.

    But, the 25mm grenade has roughly 12-16 times the amount of explosive material as the .50 caliber round, and it’s designed to explode when we tell it to; I.E., not by luck. You remove luck as a factor by using the airburst, programmable response feature. Meaning that, killing someone in the same fashion is relativley easy to do. You don’t need to shoot through a perfectly proportioned concrete slab to get the delayed fuse of the .50 caliber round to go off just perfectly to explode and kill the people behind it. Instead, you can just time it, shoot it into a middle of a group of people, sans the kinetic energy delayed fuse detonation system (like in the 40mm grenade, as well), and kill them. Done and done.

    • Some, you are arguing with a strawman ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman ). Rather than argue a point ad nauseam, please consider you answers. It is ok to be wrong.

      I am not an expert, and I would bow to an experts knowledge, but this is my understanding …

      1) Nobody is arguing with the kinetic force of a .50 BMG round. BUT the tiny charge of explosives would be very very unlikely kill anybody it does not hit. It is not designed as an anti-personal weapon.

      2) Airburst grenades have little explosive charge. They intend to kill by blasting the target with shrapnel rather than reducing their brain to goo using an explosive pressure wave.

      3) I doubt any, or many, enemy troops have been killed in the last wars with a 40mm grenades kinetic energy. It is not used that way. You don’t fire a 40mm grenade directly at a target.

  • subase

    It’s not about ‘killing’ it’s about stopping power. People who get shot take minutes sometimes hours to die when shot. The bullets are effective because they take the person out of the fight, ie stopping power.

    The 25mm grenades may not technically ‘kill’ a person but they arguably do better. The injure and maim to such a degree that they are combat ineffective possibly for the rest of the their lives. In addition the enemy has the injured and disabled to take care of, a resource and morale hit.

  • Some Guy

    /sigh.

    The point is that, the relatively small amount of explosive material inside of a .50 caliber HEIAP round was capable of killing three people through a concrete slab. True, the .50 caliber round penetrated a few inches before it detonated, due to the delayed fuse ignition system.

    But the 20mm grenade, and the 25mm grenade, are much larger than the .50 caliber round, and are proportionally filled full of a much larger amount of explosive material.

    This means that, a 20mm grenade and a 25mm grenade are theoretically filled full of enough explosive to, punch through a concrete slab and kill more than three people behind it.

    They, as you put it, use shrapnel to cause a large amount of their damage. If one can imagine, launching shrapnel, could easily extend the lethal range of the device, like in all grenades. So, the weapon has several times the strength to blow through a concrete slab, and can use this energy to launch shrapnel. The power is there. The point of me citing all of this information to you was so that you can imagine, in your mind, the strength of a 20mm or a 25mm grenade. It’s called an example, so you can understand the full magnitude and power of the subject.

  • Rohan

    I see people have been crossing swords with “some guy” at firearms blog.

    Just for your information (and to show I am a morbid soul) I have the REAL world results of a grenade explosion in Australia.

    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/may19/nocera/nocera.html

    A F1 grenade exploded during production. Remember it has a 6 meter lethal radius and 15 meter injury radius. Only 4 of the 7 present were injured. All survived, just.

    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/may19/nocera/nocbox.html

    The xm-25 is great in theory but…….

    A F1 grenade is 375 grams with 62 grams of RDX and 4000+ 2.5mm steel “ball bearings”. A a 40mm grenade projectile is about 180 gram and the 25mm grenade projectile about 100 grams. Using mathematics which some guy loves, all will understand good old “inverse squared law”. Ie to double the radius (of a burst or fragments) you need to quad the weight (of explosive or number of fragments).

    The 25mm grenade if roughly a quarter of the size of a F1 grenade. Ie half the effective radius of blast and fragments.

    Although 2 (patient A & B) were “hors de combat”, the other 2 at 0.6 meters could have fought on after a F1 explosion if in battle. This was without basic soft body armour.

    Fragmentation has lower lethality than bullets. During WW2 2/3 of wounds were due to fragments, but 2/3 of deaths were due to small arms. It depends on your aim (no pun intended).

    http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwii/woundblstcs/default.htm

    Some guy doesn’t understand that any grenade system will have a big aiming error regardless of FCS and due to soldier stress. Much bigger than any rifle. Remember the “Operational Requirements for an Infantry Hand Weapon” results.

    Our mutual friend forgets that war is about probabilities and nothing is 100% lethal, 100% accurate and theory last 5 seconds on the battlefield.

  • Rohan

    Correction: “the other 2 at 1.6**** meters could have fought on after a F1 explosion if in battle”

  • subase

    In the XM25’s wikipedia page looks like it’s already been tested in the field and troops love it. I don’t believe it’s an infantry killer but more of a maimer that flushes troops from cover.
    But with the grenade bursting close enough to a person it can kill too.

    The optic and firing system for the launcher gives sniper like accuracy. It does all the hard work for you.

  • Rohan

    @ Some Guy

    ” “Ie to double the radius (of a burst or fragments) you need to quad the weight (of explosive or number of fragments)”.”

    “That’s not necessarily true, as it really depends on the type of explosive, the type of shrapnel, etc.
    And, pressure it’s highly important to most explosives, meaning that some explosives of the same size and type can generate more power simply by having a different container (like in a pipe bomb).”

    Another Strawman!
    While there will be slight variations of explosive to fragment mass ratio, the above compares grenade to grenade.

    Not pipe bombs, not pistol rounds, not Titanium, not “Yeah, it will freaking kill”, not “Ridiculously lethal”, not .50 caliber HEIAP round, not different BS things, but grenade to grenade.

    A 40mm M433 grenade projectile weights about 180g, 120g without the fuse and only 44 grams of explosive.

    A 25mm grenade in its 100 grams has to include a fuse, steel body and explosive. That means roughly only 20grams of explosive and 40 grams of metal to fragment.

    Remember the above REAL world medical report is of a F1 grenade. 62g of RDX and 4000+ 2.4mm steel balls (4000 x 0.05g or 225 grams approx of fragments).

    You may want to rethink your responses.

    And by the way the Mk211 only has about 2-3 gram of explosive, and a tungsten penetrator. Only enough to break the outside of the round (20 “effective” fragments) and the projectiles kinetic energy (not chemical energy) does the rest. The arc is only 45 degrees, or 20 degrees either side. Against hard targets only the tungsten core that penetrates.

    If three guys spoon they may all fit in the fragment pattern!
    http://www.biggerhammer.net/barrett/raufoss/#Anchor-AP-53696

    and as Steve said; Some, you are arguing with a strawman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strawman ). Rather than argue a point ad nauseam, please consider you answers. It is ok to be wrong.