USMC would like 40mm version of XM-25

Matthew Cox reports that the USMC like the XM-25 semi-automatic air burst grenade concept but would prefer it in 40mm instead of 25mm.

“I have not seen a detailed analysis on the [XM25’s] lethality,” Clark said. “We think we can get more lethality out of a 40mm round.”

In addition to concerns over lethality, the Marines say that the current price tag of roughly $30,000 to hand build one XM25 is just too expensive, Clark said.

Right now there are only five prototypes being tested by soldiers in Afghanistan. Congress has approved an additional $24.7 million to pay for 36 new prototype XM25s and the ammunition and spare parts to go with them.

If they cannot pay $30,000 for a prototype, I don’t think their budget will extend to the R&D needed to take it from 25mm to 40mm.

Compared to the 14-pound XM25, the MPRS optic/computer, ambidextrous touch pad and connection cable adds about one pound to a rifle equipped with a 40mm grenade launcher, IMI officials said.

The Israeli Defense Force could field the MPRS in early 2012, said Dan Peretz, corporate vice president for R&D and Business Development at IMI.

IWI MPRS

THe MPRS is basically a picatinny range finder, scope, power source and ballistic computer coupled with a modified M203 launcher. It uses special programmable 40mm grenades.

MPRS launcher.
MPRS Fire Control System


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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  • JonMac

    Considering how brutal the recoil appears to be with 25mm, I doubt 40 is practical.

  • This post is like a two for one special. Seems like two articles in one. Either way i would like to see a more in depth comparison between the XM25 and MRPS.

  • Alex-mac

    The main problem seems to have been the dumb idea of building a portable semi automatic magazine fed grenade launcher.

    So while the IWI now has a cheap air burst system available. And the Koreans have the Daewoo K11 a bolt action magazine fed airburst grenade launcher with integrated 5.56 weapon. The U.S has nothing but a money pit.

    • jdun1911

      Daewoo K11 is even worst. The only thing that 20mm do is piss your enemies even more.

  • Marsh626

    I’ve heard that the U.S. soldiers who are using them in Afghanistan love them and want more.

    I never knew that they could modify a M203 with this technology. That’s very interesting.

    I wonder how effective they are compared to the XM-25.

  • jdun1911

    Don’t know what so brutal shooting 25mm. We been using 40mm since God knows how long and no one is complaining.

    25mm is too small, delivery system is to heavy, and cost way too much. At platoon level you’re going to have to give up some serious firepower to fit it in. XM-25 project is probably going to end when the 24.7 millions are used up.

    • Jon Mac

      Well, me either, but have you seen the videos of that thing firing? It appears to impart way more felt recoil than, say, a 203. I assumed because it’s higher velocity, flatter trajectory. Up the bore and you’ll either lose range and potentially accuracy, or you’ll need to up the powder charge and it will kick like a mule.

  • Lance

    From what I’ve read the Marine are different on GLs than Army and South Korean Army was. First they don’t want a GL/rifle combo they want a straight GL airburst system. 2nd they would want a system which is smaller and more powerful than the XM-25 is.

    Over all the USMC has different weapons layout for Infantry for the next few decades. The M-203 is going to be in Marine service for a long time. One reason too is that they are for M-16A4 rifles while the all M-4 army went with the M-320 for use on smaller M-4s. Over a a M-203 upgraded may be great to get awesome targeting tech onto existing rifle and GL to improve marksmanship.

    However like the planned M-16A4 upgraded planned for the new M-16A5 this will be on the back burner and slowly worked on with over $600 Billion more cuts coming with BIG cuts already coming from last summer. Most R&D will take alot more time and might be cancelled on some programs too. The fact is most government programs defense and none defense will be a wait and see and don’t bet your money on it.

  • Lee

    Just like the Marines to want more firepower…OORAH. Also, no surprise that they’re trying to keep the price tag low. The Marines have always had a much smaller budget proportionally than the Army for acquisitions, and what with the downsizing of the Marine Corps (202,000 to 186,000 in the next few years) those funds have dried up even more.

  • There are various airburst systems for 40mm Low Velocity rounds now being offered or in development; the Israeli MPRS is only one of them.

    Likely to be of more interest to the USMC is that the new Medium Velocity 40mm grenades are also beginning to appear with airburst capability: these extend the range from 300-400m for the LV to 600-800m for the MV.

    The USMC already has the M32 6-shot revolver 40mm GL which is capable of handling MV ammunition and could easily be given an airburst FCS. Another option will soon come from Rheinmetall, who are developing the Hydra 8-shot 40mm MV semi-auto, with a recoil-absorbing mechanism built in. They have already developed airburst MV ammo.

    • charles222

      Could you maybe make a Mk32 variant with swappable cylinders, like the old Dragoon revolver? That’d solve the takes-forever-to-reload problem.

      As for 40mm recoil-the M203 doesn’t really kick; it’s more like a push in my experience.

  • Chucky

    Sounds like they need to resurrect the ‘ol China Lake. Just stick on that fancy pants scope/range finder and call it done.

    • Jeff

      Can’t they retrofit M32s with airburst systems? I mean, if someone is carrying something as heavy as that around, you might as well give it airburst capabilities

    • Avery

      Funny, that. Airtronics, the guys who made that American, polymer-tube RPG launcher with the Picatinny rails own the rights to the China Lake launcher and are planning to build a modernized version of it, with rails and a collapsing stock. The only problem is that the M32 does the job for less weight and bulk.

  • mat

    i have never been good in math but additional 36 guns with ammo and spares at cca 25mio$ is a lot closer to 500k$ per gun than a 30.000$ a piece .I think at 30k$ they would be making them by the hundrests if not thousands by now

    25mm caliber lethality is no way near 40mm and even this is lethal only in 10feet radi ,recoil is about bit mass and velocity so a 25mm high-velocity round can recoil harder than low velocity 40mm round

  • Rusgunnut1

    “If they cannot pay $30,000 for a prototype, I don’t think their budget will extend to the R&D needed to take it from 25mm to 40mm.”

    It’s not R&D from what I can tell, that is the projected end price for one issue unit

    • t1oracle

      R&D is baked into the end unit price.

  • Yo Arsitidian

    while scaling the xm-25 to 40mm intuitively makes sense it’s easy to overlook that there are certain reasons why 25mm was chosen.

    compared to the 40×46 grenade used in m320/m203/m79 grenade launchers the 25mm grenade moves much faster, has a much flatter trajectory and longer range. thus hit probability is higher, moving targets are easier to engage and point shooting is possible.

    also the smaller size and lower weight of the shells allow to carry much more ammunition. additionally 25mm allows a four round mag (there are 6 rounds variants in testing), enabling to fire in rapid succession. a 40mm system could only rudimentary map this capability.

    40×56 as used in the mk19 has longer reach than the xm25, but recoil is to high for rifle-applications.

    there is nothing wrong in making 40mm ‘smart’ and adding ballistics computers to existing rifle-grenade launchers and agm’s, but the xm-25 has advantages that 40mm bases systems can’t meet.

    • Lance

      But far less killing power and the kill zone for them is much smaller.

      • Jeff

        Which was one purpose the design intent was to create a launcher that reduced collateral damage, the concern of which was preventing the use of 40mm grenade often enough that they wanted a more precise and controllable round. The analogy used in office often enough was that the goal was like Air forces replacement of large ordinance with smaller guided munitions.

  • Jeff

    Having experience on the program, I don’t think a 40mm version would be immediately viable at present… even ignoring the fact that the whole reason 25mm was chosen over 40mm was to produce a launcher that cut down on collateral damage, and making this 40mm would just increase it, negating the design intent. Next the 25mm gun has a higher internal barrel pressure than if it were just a grenade; so a 40mm launcher even without the electronic package would be heavier than at present unless they designed it with a reduced load and/or range. As others have pointed out another contributing goal of the chosen size was the ability to carry more rounds as well as allowing the weapon to be magazine fed. Go to 40mm you lose that. If the marines want to bring a smarter round and mate it with an intelligent 40mm launcher that’s great, but it ceases to be immediately comparable to the XM-25.

    • No, you don’t lose either the range or the magazine capacity if you use an M32 with MV ammo. Or the new Rheinmetall Hydra. See: http://www.esdpa.org/2011/10/rheinmetall-infantry-symposium-2011/

      • Jeff

        Yes you do:
        XM25: Range 1000m, velocity 210 m/s
        M32 MV ammo: Range 600-700m, velocity 100 m/s

        The MV steps up the internal barrel pressure of the grenade launcher, and has a larger rim to prevent it from being loaded into a grenade launcher that’s inadequate. If that’s an issue with 40mm launchers going from LV to MV, 80m/s up to 100m/s and 400m up to 700m, it will certainly be a problem bringing it up to 1000m and 210m/s.

        The XM25 has rebated rims, while the grenade you linked to actually have extra large rims, which hurt magazine reliability.

        Something else that hasn’t been considered is the safety requirements. The XM-25 only has the 4 round magazine size it has, as opposed to a larger one, because the Army’s safety boards didn’t want more than a given weight of explosive within the weapon at any given time. Might the marines wave that?-Yes, but otherwise it’d be one grenade at a time or SF only.

    • Lance

      Most Marine complaints are not over the 25mm round itself rather its pathetically small warhead on it.

  • Rotomatic

    The MK47 is a redesigned lightweight version of a MK19. The MK47 is still a crew served weapon but is easily transported by backpack. It also has airburst capability and is currently available to to US forces. The XM307 is a beltfed 25mm grenade launching machine-gun with air burst tech that can be quickly swapped to 50cal. These guns are made by general dynamics.

    • The XM307 was cancelled several years ago.

    • Nater

      I don’t know the numbers, but I can’t imagine that the Mk 47 is dramatically lighter than the Mk 19. The big differences between them are the former’s advanced fire control and the ability to fire “smart grenades” (sorry, I always laugh at that term, see Barbed Wire).

  • Lance

    Over all I thin the USMC like all US services should say. Who care about collateral damage when the fight is big enough where a regular M-203 isn’t enough. Sorry and its sad when innocent die in war BUT ITS WAR!. This PC crap of having to under arm US men to protect foreigners is crap.

    • W

      “Who” cares about collatoral damage? because taking collatoral damage into effect is key to winning 4th generation wars. That and the needless killing of civilians is a violation of the Geneva and Hague conventions and UCMJ…as it should be.

      Pertaining to the XM25, it seems like a good weapon for the 4GW battlefield. If the marines want a 40mm multiple shot grenade launcher, why don’t they just continue using their M32 MGL’s?

  • Dan

    The Marines want it for something that it was never intended for; the XM25 was built for speed and controlled lethality. As long as the US military keeps believing in this “hearts and minds” crap, future weapon systems will continue to be designed around precise, reduced collateral risking ordnance.

    Want to take out just the sniper holed up in a room 500+ yards away without endangering nearby civilian assets? Use an XM25.

    Same scenario as above, but the give-a-f*ck meter is broken. Deploy any other US military weapon system. Sniper is gone, but so is most of the house. Not your mortgage, not your problem right?

    Todays battlefield has artificial rules in place, so the XM25 and its “weak” 25mm warhead is a new tool for a new approach at war fighting that packs just enough punch to be lethal for its intended purpose (kill people, not half a building). The Marines need to clarify their intended purpose with the system, and when said system has “just” enough firepower to satisfy the commandant. While they’re at it, maybe figure out why they hate collapsible stocks on the M16A4’s?

  • Lance

    Sorry but just avoiding collateral damage just for looking good for TV scum doesn’t make us win wars. In fact it just gets more GI killed happened in the late Vietnam war and we sure aren’t winning Afghanistan sucking up to Karzi and his jerks either.

    • Nater

      Apparently you don’t know anything about counter insurgency. I’m not an expert by any means, but I know the basics. You’re not fighting to kill the enemy that opposes you, you’re fighting to win over the population that can be swayed. You take the population away from the insurgency, you take away the insurgency.

      The US certainly didn’t try too hard to avoid civilian casualties in Vietnam. 2 million civilians died, most by US hands. Carpet bombing cities with B52s and dropping napalm on villages aren’t measures you take when civilian casualties are taken seriously.

      You’re only as good as the government you’re trying to support, and in both cases, the supported government is of a low quality to say the least. But in both cases, they’re governments largely created and fully supported by US foreign policy.

      • Lance

        The whole point of letting the enemy kill you because they will hate you if you accidentally kill someone mean you never win a guerrilla war. No major army this century really has any way. because they have your mind set and let the bad guy get away with most of there crap they do to you.

    • W

      If you believe a conventional approach to a counter-insurgency is a way to win the later, then i suggest you read any works by John Poole (Militant Tricks and The Tiger’s Way) or David Galula. 4th Generation Warfare is not won by enemy body counts or territory control, but rather the public’s perception on the government the occupying army is supporting.

      Since we have the technology to avoid civilian casualties now more than ever, we should be applying them as much as we can.

      • Lance

        I know what your approach is but I never read a history book on any war where this approach worked Didn’t in late Vietnam war or in Nicaragua or I even say now in Afghanistan.

      • W

        hmmm. the Malaysian emergency? the vietnam war? (the opportunity was lost in the vietnam war when we decided to leave; the NVA was on the verge of defeat).

        The hearts and minds principle never worked because they haven’t been applied. Here’s the real question: show me where the brutal counter insurgency method worked…

    • Alex-mac

      You make a good point Lace on counterinsurgency strategy actually never working. But it did work, twice.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counter-insurgency#Martin_van_Creveld

      I think in the long term, the west is losing and the U.S is to blame.

      • W

        I believe you cannot ridicule a concept for not working if it was never applied. http://www.amazon.com/Militant-Tricks-Battlefield-Islamic-Insurgent/dp/0963869582

      • Alex-mac

        @W – Sure you can as it suggests a strategy that is unable to be properly applied and thus intrinsically flawed as it’s destined to fail. In anycase, the U.S is only doing ‘counterinsurgency’ to assuage public sentiment on the war and buy time for the Afghan army to be strong enough to protect their corrupt not quite a puppet dictator.

        Saying that for the peacekeeping and police-like roles the army is usually engaged in, a slightly less lethal and much less destructive grenade like this is a great idea.

      • W

        unable to be properly applied??? LOL.

  • Jeff, your figures are wrong. The range of the XM25 is officially 500m against point targets, 700m against area targets. These are ATK’s own figures, from here: http://www.atk.com/capabilities_space/documents/sw_iw_xm25.pdf

    The 40mm MV and grenade weight vary – there is no fixed specification – but their maximum ballistic ranges are between 600m and 800m.

    Now you are complaining that the Hydra’s magazine capacity is too large? Well, then, specify a smaller one – that’s not difficult!

    • Yo Arsitidian

      just checked out the hydra – wow this looks like a joke. huge, heavy, unwieldy and no ballistics computer even integrated yet. also its vaporware – they only thing they can show is some plastic-mockup?!

      the xm25 is lighter, is already in combat testing and much more compact.

      again the 25mm approach has certain advantages that can’t be meet by 40mm. ammo weight and amount one of them, lower trajectory and shorter flight times another one. it takes a 40mm grenade almost 4 (!) seconds to fly out to 250 meters, a 25mm will be there in less than 2 seconds.

      also try to put a grenade through a window at that range with 40mm…

      and for the lethality argument: nobody has any data on this yet. first reports from a-stan are promising and I wonder the xm25 system doesn’t turn out more effective in combat situations. time to aim, fire and reload are much shorter than with current 40mm systems. sure 40mm is bigger, but hit probability with 25mm is higher, and if in doubt just rapid fire 2 of them and be done with it;)

      • When a firm like Rheinmetall announces that something is in development you can be sure that they have the intention and the resources to deliver it. The single-shot Cerberus has already been test-fired for journalists, the Hydra will be following on in due course.

        The Hydra weighs 4 kg (without FCS) compared with the XM25’s 5.5 kg with FCS. Probably not much in it when comparing like for like. It’s a similar size, too. In contrast, the USMC’s six-shot M32 is much bulkier and weighs 5.3 kg without FCS.

        You’re quoting 40mm LV ballistic figures, not the true comparator of MV figures, which are much closer to the 25mm. Yes, the 25mm gives you a flatter trajectory but the grenade is only half the weight. So if you have to fire two 25mm rather than one 40mm for the same effect, then you’ve immediately lost the ammo weight advantage.

        And the one big plus-point of 40mm MV is that you can fire a huge range of ammo, LV and MV, of various types from many different manufacturers, which are already tested and in service.