XM25 Weapon System Still A Long Way From General Issue

The US Army’s XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system won’t undergo a second Forward Operational Assessment until fall 2014.

Army.mil reports

The U.S. Army is preparing to conduct a second Forward Operational Assessment of its XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system.

Program managers are seeking to expedite development of the system, refine and improve the technology, and ultimately begin formal production by the fall of 2014, service officials said during a roundtable, Sept. 20, at Maneuver Center of Excellence, Fort Benning, Ga.

“The Army has learned many valuable lessons from these deployments regarding how the weapon can be deployed and how tactics can be changed to better refine the design of the weapon. Based on feedback from Soldiers and contractor testing, we have already incorporated more than 100 improvements to the systems related to ergonomics, performance and fire control,” Armstrong said.

During its initial Forward Operational Assessment, the XM25 provided a decisive advantage to Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan. While on patrol in Southern Afghanistan, Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division used the XM25 to engage and successfully defeat enemy forces hiding behind three-to-four foot walls used by Afghans to grow grapes, said Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, MCoE, a combat veteran who recently led infantry units in Afghanistan with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.

[ Many thanks to Lance for the tip. ]



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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  • Mike M.

    Translation: It’s got serious problems. If it worked, you couldn’t pry it out of the troops’ hands.

    • Joe

      We have been fighting in an ideal small arms development arena for ten years. Engaging guys with no protection ie, helmet, body armor or training and still no body count to date for the XM25.

      Shorter engagement times is the new criteria for Lethality? How can some of these folks look in the mirror knowing in the future we will be fighting folks with actual technology and force protection, while we are armed with weapons that do not kill even the lightest protected troops.

  • Duttyrock2012

    Would like to hear from Troopers who actually had real trigger time with this weapon. Seem almost TOO specialized, underpowered and limited over-all in usefulness. An airbursting 40mm would be much more effective.

    • Jeff

      It’s design intent was to be used in an urban setting where collateral damage has to be avoided. Lets also point out the XM25 out ranges a 40mm grenade.

      • Joe

        You just refuse to listen, even if the user is telling you directly. There were only five XM25’s down range and the user of one is talking, you think you might want to hear the guy talk?

        Your weapon has been in development for 20 years, only now it has a different name with the same problem, it doesn’t kill or incapacitate as advertised.

  • Nick

    If we bought CV-9040’s instead of Strykers and Bradleys we would not need this thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkvPdSITdH4

    • William C.

      The Bradley could be up-gunned to a 30mm Mk.44 chain gun (or a 35mm) and airburst ammo exists in both of those calibers. But this program is supposed to develop a weapon an infantryman can carry.

      I’m still skeptical of this whole program, something with a 20+ year history like this means a lot of careers could be on the line, and that means it is harder to get an accurate assessment from these field deployments. Hopefully something good will come of his however.

    • W

      two different platforms for two entirely different purposes, though I agree the Swedish CV is a far superior IFV.

      That would actually mean the US military focus on substance and practicality rather than appearances. Fat chance.

  • SleepyDave

    I’m going to venture a guess that some of the chief complaints were that it was heavy, bulky, cumbersome, and required atleast one member of each squad to carry only the Punisher, limiting their combat usefulness in certain situations.

    Really, what would have been IDEAL would be a 40mm launcher that can use the legacy ammo, and a couple of new times of ammo, plus programmables like what the Punisher uses.

    For example, some sort of low velocity breaching round that can deal with door hinges and locks would be awesome, and I KNOW they used to have what equated to 40mm shotgun rounds.

  • W

    I think the system is anything but perfect, though fielding it in combat allows such a unique genre of weapons to evolve and transform into something extremely applicable in combat.

    Air burst, counter-defilade weapons have enormous potential in the 21st century battlefield.

  • 15yroldgunman

    Gonna be honest i absolutely hate the idea of this thing good for low combat zones maybe but allout war they would crash and be useless
    ****in computers

    • RocketScientist

      You mean the same computers that are in every tank, airplane, ship, cruise missile, guided bomb… heck, even in artillery rounds? Yeah, all those weapons-systems are pretty much useless in full-on combat.

    • Karina

      Where are you from? World War I? Computers are everywhere in modern warfare; and essential to it, too.

      • 15yroldgunman

        Full scale war they would be un economical but save our soldiers lives in zones were official war has not been declared with computers essentially its almost like cheating at warfare. The xm25 should be no priority for the us army, other post talk about the m32 it is a lot more logical to use

      • bbmg

        If you’re not cheating, then you’ve completely missed the point of warfare in general.

      • W

        Ill also add that tomorrows wars will also open a new front previously unknown to previous generations of soldiers: the digital front.

        Im talking about UAVs, stuxnet-like worms, super computers, and other technologies the military is now starting to take seriously.

    • mosinman

      this isnt call of duty buddy. if theres an advantage you gotta take it. cheating=winning

  • Big Daddy

    I served and used some weapons like the M203, LAW, Dragon, TOW, so I am talking with some experience. No combat.

    The M32 40mm looks like the perfect weapon to launch this round. The 40mm will hold more explosive and that weapon is a simple proven design. This is a perfect match.

    The money wasted trying to take leaps in technology is out of hand with the DOD.

    The Marines have the right idea, use proven weapon systems until something better comes along. The Army could have had how many M32s for the cost of one round of this 25mm round?

    Yes it’s a good idea and when the tech is ready I want to see it in every platoon. But it’s not ready and won’t be for some time. Until then do what the Marines do and use what works. It’s about getting the best there is to the troops, equipment that works and is ready to help them survive in war time during battles.

    • Jeff

      The XM25 is intended as having a scalable discriminating level of lethality in response to situations where 40mm grenades were excessive and thus left a squad limited in its response. It is as lethal as a 40mm just in a tighter area of effect and this is on purpose. You need a greater coverage you just fire more rounds.

      The XM25’s maximum range is also double that of a 40mm grenade. The XM25 is more cannon than grenade launcher. It’s intended to supplement and provide point to target capabilities with intermediate degrees of lethality to that of a 40mm.

      XM25 round costs $25 but a little perspective is that most 40mm grenades are upwards of $50.

      Large portions of this weapon systems price is the optics and sensors. To modify 40mm systems to work with this technology would increase their weight and bulk while eliminating the range and rate of fire advantage.

      The right frame of mind for the XM25 is as a type of squad support weapon. Designated marksmen and machinegun crews trade capabilities for specialization when the are given their specialized weapons… This is no different. Also In this perspective the cost of the system is also appropriate since most of these other specialized weapons have comparable or greater costs.

      • Big Daddy

        Yes it’s a wonderful weapon, when it works correctly in a few years, if it does great. Until it is ready 100%, give them the M32 with those fuses.

        The cost of those weapons are a lot higher. Those numbers are what they would cost if produced in higher numbers. Right now the round itself cost over $1000, they are made by hand.

        The DOD puts out more BS and people just go along with it.

        Go back and read about the true cost of this weapon. How much R&D went into the M32? Look up how much went into the XM-25. Add that cost onto everyone built.

        Try a little Google this is from Defense Review in 2010.

        [Update: DefenseReview just found out from Christian Lowe at Kit Up! that there are currently five (5) XM25s in combat, and the goal is to field a total of thirty-six (36) XM25s as fast as they can, at a cost of $10 million ($10,000,000), all in. That comes to $277,777.78 cents per weapon! Wow. Ouch!! Sure hope the damn thing works!]

        So th true cost of each weapon and the projected cost are different. They are feeding everybody the projected cost.

      • Other Steve

        Considering the volume purchased, and specialized nature, I don’t believe for one second that the round costs $25.

        Want to provide a source for that claim?

    • RocketScientist

      I don’t get your point? You seem upset that the army is not doing exactly what it IS doing.

      “Yes it’s a wonderful weapon, when it works correctly in a few years, if it does great. Until it is ready 100%, give them the M32 with those fuses.”

      Isn’t this exactly what the article is saying? They are trying these out on a small scale, noting the problems/deficiencies, and making improvements before rolling them out full-scale. Heck, the title of this blog entry is “XM25 System Still a Long Way From General Issue”.

      Also, it’s ridiculous to include R&D costs when judging unit cost. These are costs that are amortized over the entire lifespan of a product and all it’s derivatives. This would be like pointing to the very first M16 and saying “This gun is insanely overpriced… it cost millions of dollars to produce one rifle!!”

  • J. Smith

    I am still amazed that this costs $25k per unit, along with the cartridges being $24 each. That would quickly add up to pay for better suited weaponry, vehicles, etc.

    • Jeff

      Just a little perspective a M4 fully equipped with similar optics and accessories costs the government $16k a weapon because its price includes the servicing and spare parts to completely rebuild it a number of times over its service life. The XM-25 is no different except it hasn’t benefitted from economy of scale.

      • omologato

        $25 a round? Where are you hearing this? I was under the impression that they were much more expensive.

      • Anonymoose

        Last I heard they were like $37 per round iirc.

    • Big Daddy

      The cost of those weapons are a lot higher. Those numbers are what they would cost if produced in higher numbers. Right now the round itself cost over $1000, they are made by hand.

      The DOD puts out more BS and people just go along with it.

      Go back and read about the true cost of this weapon. How much R&D went into the M32? Look up how much went into the XM-25. Add that cost onto everyone built.

      Try a little Google, this is from Defense Review in 2010.

      [Update: DefenseReview just found out from Christian Lowe at Kit Up! that there are currently five (5) XM25s in combat, and the goal is to field a total of thirty-six (36) XM25s as fast as they can, at a cost of $10 million ($10,000,000), all in. That comes to $277,777.78 cents per weapon! Wow. Ouch!! Sure hope the damn thing works!]

      So the true cost of each weapon and the projected cost are different.

      They are feeding everybody the projected cost.

  • nobody

    The reason for why they went with a 25mm grenade instead of a 40mm grenade is that the higher velocity 25mm grenade has a flatter trajectory, making it easier to compensate and be able to fire through windows at longer ranges and can be used at a longer distance than the 40mm grenade. I do however think that going with a semi auto version is overkill and they should have gone with a single shot version.

    • bbmg

      The obvious solution seems to be a subcalibre round for the 40mm platform.

      Standard 40mm grenades have a terrible ballistic coefficient, replace the dumpy round with a thinner, longer, fin stabilised round in a sabot et voila. All up weight would be slightly lighter, so you get a higher muzzle velocity, and a flatter trajectory since it will lose velocity at a lower rate downrange.

      Some problems I see with this would be a greater overall length for the cartridge making it impossible to feed in automatic launchers without serious modification, and the fact that you would need to develop new fuses as the spin-activated fuse would be redundant if fin stabilisation is employed.

      • Zincorium

        Depending on how much smaller you made it, it might be possible to telescope it into the case, like they’ve done for the LSAT weapons program, and still fit it into a current 40mm launcher. You’d be trading a cylinder out of the center where the projectile intrudes back into the case for an increase in overall case length and corresponding powder. It’s not really a matter of whether the tradeoff can be made, it’s a matter of whether it’s worth doing.

      • bbmg

        If you look at most 40mm grenades, the projectile is already in contact with the base of the cartridge so I don’t see much leeway for “telescoping” the round.

        If you keep the overall length but reduce the projectile diameter to say 30mm, you will reduce weight and frontal area by around 50%, meaning significantly higher muzzle velocity and much less drag, resulting in a flatter trajectory.

        Naturally you’re only firing half the explosive, but since you’re more likely to hit your target you would need less of a fragmentation radius.

  • Lance

    Overall a USMC project to make a 40mm version sounds promising. Politics and the fact the army (federal gov) is out of money will ensure this stays a exotic weapon.

    Overall a Mk-19 is good too and is cheaper to maintain right now.

    Jeff save you breath the XM-25 is good weapon but all other services are staying with 40mm and its not going to change.

    • Alex-mac

      They could make a barrel sleeve for the 40mm ugl’s to fire 25mm airburst. Let’s see how useful it is then.
      A mag fed bolt action ugl is also a possibility.

      • HK has already filed a patent application for the very same concept. Actually, I think it was for a replacement barrel that would house all of the necessary electronics and user input controls.

  • Monty

    Despite any perceived disadvantages the XM25 is a game changing weapon that adds serious firepower where it’s most needed: at squad level. The problems are typical of a revolutionary new military technology. Perhaps the most important contribution of the XM25 is that it has kickstarted renewed development of 40 mm GL systems with a variety of manufacturers developing air burst munitions, new sighting systems and multi-round launchers. Rheinmetall is developing the 40 mm Hydra with 4, 6 and 8 round magazines firing air burst munitions. H&K will surely follow with its own 40 mm version of the XM25. New technology includes smaller sights and fire control units. Whatever happens to the XM25, 40 mm GLs are here to stay.

    Although 25 mm grenades shoot flatter and further than Low Velocity (LV) 40 mm grenades, Medium Velocity (MV) 40 mm air burst ammunition has proved to be hugely effective with a larger and more lethal burst pattern than the 25 mm grenade. The problem with MV 40 mm weapons is that they need hydraulic buffers to mitigate the recoil and so are much heavier.

    There’s another interesting GL development on the horizon. At the moment, when we use grenade launchers in a direct role, much of the blast when an overhead burst is initiated goes upwards and sideways and only some of it downwards to the target. There is a strong case for developing an indirect fire capability, like a mortar, so that five or six rounds can be brought down on the heads of the enemy with 90% of the blast impacting where it will be most lethal.

    • bbmg

      We already have guided 120mm mortar rounds: http://defense-update.com/products/x/xm395.htm

      The way technology is going, there is every reason to believe that a similar system scaled down for 40mm rounds is not too far on the horizon.

      • Phil White

        We also have a 155 guided artillery round.

      • bbmg

        and this too: http://www.gizmag.com/switchblade-uas-kamikaze-drone/20611/

        Take the electronic gubbins from that, and strap them to a rocket that can fit into a 40mm tube. Relatively gentle rocket acceleration means that the electronics don’t have to be especially hardened, and the shooter is not inconvenienced by heavy recoil.

        Shoot the thing straight up and let it come down on Johnny Taliban with a degree of precision that doesn’t need a big warhead.

    • Phil White

      Besides the 10th Mountain test Spec Ops are playing with them as well.

  • bbmg

    Isn’t this the way of all technology though?

    Amazing protoype comes out, new designs, materials and techniques are learned, prototype goes flat but the new technology then slowly filters through to the warfighter in terms of incremental improvements to their equipment…

    Look at concept cars, how often do they make it to the production line?

  • gunslinger

    well, if it saves troop lives, how much is that worth?

    • Phil White

      A hell of a lot!

      • Mike Knox

        $22,000 doesn’t sound that expensive for an experimental/evaluation model..

  • Big Daddy

    [During its initial Forward Operational Assessment, the XM25 provided a decisive advantage to Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan. While on patrol in Southern Afghanistan, Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division used the XM25 to engage and successfully defeat enemy forces hiding behind three-to-four foot walls used by Afghans to grow grapes, said Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, MCoE, a combat veteran who recently led infantry units in Afghanistan with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.]

    I sure hope those grapes where not hurt.

    This is the problem with the way we fight today. We are asking our soldiers to be targets for the enemy so that we can use politics to achieve our goals. It doesn’t work, it never worked and to fight is to completely annihilate the enemy or not fight at all.

    We cannot expect our military to be the world’s police, that is the job of the UN.

    I have watched a lot of film on combat engagements in Afghanistan, I call it volleyball. It never seemed like the end game was to go and cut off the escape routes, cover them and get in there and kill or capture them. It was just like a shoot out and they would run away doing as much damage as possible. That is not war, that is policing.

    This weapon is designed to be more effecient, that’s great. What was described by Carbello could have been accomplished with the 40mm rounds called bouncing betty’s or just bouncing grenades.

    A very good read:
    http://sadefensejournal.com/wp/?p=193

    • RocketScientist

      “This is the problem with the way we fight today. We are asking our soldiers to be targets for the enemy so that we can use politics to achieve our goals. It doesn’t work, it never worked and to fight is to completely annihilate the enemy or not fight at all. We cannot expect our military to be the world’s police, that is the job of the UN.”

      So much wrong with this. War and politics are two sides of the same coin and have been since civilization began. Von Clausewitz (one of history’s greatest military theorists) said about 200 years ago: “War is the continuation of politics by other means” and that is as true today as it was then. There is a reason they still teach him at our nation’s military academies, like USAFA where I was a cadet. And while it is the job of the UN to be the ‘world’s police’ as you put it, that is the SAME as saying it is the job of the US military, as we provide the overwhelming majority of troops, equipment, and logistical support in the vast majority of UN policing actions. Also, if “to fight is to annihilate the enemy or not fight at all” how do you explain the fact that England, France, Germany, Japan etc. still exist as countries and are our closest allies? These are all countries against whom we have previously waged war. How do you explain the fact that the War of Southern Independence was not concluded by the wholesale slaughter of every adult male in the south?

      Lastly, your suggestion in this and other posts that the 40mm low-velocity grenade could be an effective substitute for the 25mm projectiles fired by the XM25 and XM307 ignores the flatter trajectory, easier aiming, tunable detonation pattern, selective fuzing, and LONGER RANGE of the newer projectile.

    • Chase

      None of what you say follows from what you quoted. Where on Earth are you pulling all the “politics” from? What makes you think that they didn’t try to kill the enemy with whom they were engaged? What’s so “political” about using airburst grenades to hit enemy fighters who are in cover behind a wall?

    • Big Daddy

      A temporary substitute until the system is full ready to go. Since that time frame is unknown get them something that works NOW. Right now that is the M32 system.

      That is what I am saying and I said it in simple English. For those who have trouble understanding:

      Until that technology is completely ready to deploy use a system that is ready NOW. That is the LV 40mm M32 system.

      I have talked with vets of Afghan and they agree it was volleyball. Due to the restrictions many engagements stopped without following through and getting the person’s responsible(The Taliban or whomever). That is not the way to fight a war. You cannot fight a war within the confines of people’s homes, that is a police action. You cannot win a police action, that’s why we are pulling out in 2014 despite the final outcome.

      That’s all I am saying. Police actions are the job of the UN. Not US Marines and Army units. This is an indication of why the Army does not want to use the 40mm, it’s all about collateral damage when their main concern should be giving the solider fighting the best available weapons NOW. Not 5 or 10 years from now.

      Simple speak.

      • RocketScientist

        You are not making sense again. You say they need to develop the XM25 until it is worthy of being fielded en masse, and until then they need to use the M32. Well guess what… THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE CURRENT SITUATION IS. The M32 is currently in use by the US military, and the XM25 is currently in development, and as the article states, won’t be deployed large scale until it has gone through more R&D phases… I don’t understand what your complaint is??

        Also, I feel the need to point out that the UN has no army. Were they to come in and perform this ‘policing action’ as you call it, they would need to use troops from their member nations. Which would mean the exact same US soldiers and marines that are currently there would be doing the exact same job they are now, just with fancy baby-blue patches and helmets. Would that make you happy?

      • W

        Big Daddy, you are describing the attributes of 4th Generation Warfare. Conflicts like Afghanistan are typical, not unique, of this new concept of war.

    • Big Daddy

      Rocket scientist you are not.

      • RocketScientist

        Not that this has anything at all to do with the topic of discussion, but yes I AM. I work for a major space and defense contractor and have personally left my fingerprints (literally) on components currently on the surface of mars, the international space station, GPS satellites, precision guided munitions, nuclear warhead delivery systems, combat aircraft…. well you get the idea. So when I call myself RocketScientist it is a statement of fact, not wishful thinking like some people’s name I can think of.

    • W

      youre completely missing the point.

      The point of a weapon like this is to counter enemy forces behind defilade. Thats it.

      I find it astronomically stupid to continue using WWI era concepts like grenades and projectile counterparts to fight entrenched enemies when we have the technology and resources to create a more efficient weapon system that can do this. Those weapons have their role. New counter-defilade weapons like this werent created because of the geopolitical reality of 4th generation warfare, but rather to give the 21st century soldier increased combat capability.

      In a ideal world, yes, I believe American should stay the hell out of the affairs of the world. The wicked problems of empire and influence end badly for every one involved. Conversely, power always finds a shoulder to rest on.

    • Mike Knox

      That first comment’s more political than topical..

  • Mike Knox

    Kind of stating the obvious here when it’s still an X designated article..

  • 1992

    you all damn 1992 pricks !

    • Phil White

      Folks lets be respectful of each other in our comments. There’s no need for insults.

      You know the rules.

  • Thomas

    There are two current problems with the XM25 system which are keeping it from production.

    The first is the weapon system itself. It is a purpose built weapon system that is of limited usefulness, as currently produced. It requires dedicated ammunition and it is a heavy weapon. This means that the grenadier has to carry the XM25, ammunition that is not compatible with any other weapons system in the squad and a separate rifle and ammunition for general use. It also suffers from a dependence upon the electronic sighting system being operational and the batteries for that unit are heavy.

    The second problem is cost. The defense budget is already strained and older weapon systems are being replaced or augmented with the same items [M4, M9, etc] rather than upgrade with newer, more efficient systems. Additionally, the Pentagon is looking at a draw down of forces in the ‘Stan, if not a general withdrawal. The cost of immediate deployment [or even deployment in the foreseeable future] of the system is difficult to justify in the current economic circumstances.

    The XM25 may well be deployed in the future, at least in some form. But, don’t look for it to happen in the near future unless the world situation drastically changes.