The US Army is soon to conduct qualification and acceptance testing for the radical XM25 Counter-Defilate Target Engagement System, informally dubbed “the Punisher” during operational trials in Afghanistan. DefenseNews reports:
According to XM25 maker Orbital ATK spokesman Jarrod Krull, in spring the Army will conduct qualification testing and contract validation. If the weapon fulfills the Army’s requirements, the Army could see fielding in early 2017, Krull said — assuming budget decisions also line up in the weapon system’s favor.
“It provides combat overmatch; the ability to engage the target in defilade (shielded),” Krull said.
When a soldier aims the weapon at a target, a laser finder gauges distance. The soldier can add or subtract from that distance with the push of a button and then, after setting the distance, can aim and fire. The fire control also shows a soldier how high to aim the weapon to account for gravity’s pull on the grenade based on the laser-determined distance. The company says the range is 500 meters to a target point, and 600 meters to an area target.
The weapon itself, made by Heckler & Koch, consists of lightweight material composites. Brashear made the fire control and Orbital ATK produced the munitions and integrated the system.…XM25 carries a magazine of five 25mm grenade rounds and a fire-control system that lets the soldier instantly program how far the grenade will travel before it explodes. That means a soldier can engage an enemy hiding behind a target — only he doesn’t need to hit something to ruin the enemy’s hiding place and his day.…
The Army is also testing a Small Arms Grenade Munition round, a 40mm round that can be used with current M203 and M320 grenade launchers. That round itself can detect a wall it passes and explode shortly after. The Army has said SAGM was meant to compliment, not replace, the program to develop the XM25; it sees potential uses for both.
Early next year, the US Army will begin acceptance testing of a weapon that seems like it’s straight out of Call of Duty Advanced Warfare: the XM25 Counter Defilade Engagement System, a “smart” grenade launcher from Orbital Sciences subsidiary Orbital ATK. The XM25 is designed to be an “anti-defilade” weapon—its purpose is to allow soldiers to hit targets shielded by cover.
The XM25 has a built-in “target acquisition and fire control system” that allows any soldier with basic rifleman skills to operate it effectively—the soldier points the weapon’s target selector down range, and a laser rangefinder determines how far away it is. The soldier can add additional distance to clear obstacles, and the fire control computer gives the soldier a new aiming point to put the round on target, as well as setting the fusing of the grenade in the chamber. The grenade doesn’t have to strike anything to explode, so it can detonate in the air over whatever or whoever might be hiding behind a vehicle, wall, or entrenchment.
The XM25 has been in development since the middle of the last decade. It was originally developed by Alliant TechSystems, which was acquired by Orbital Sciences. In 2010, the Army’s PEO Soldier program office sent prototypes of the XM25 to Afghanistan for “forward operational assessment”—use in actual combat to see how it performed. PEO Soldier’s Lt. Colonel Chris Lehner said in a post about the field tests that the “introduction of the XM25 is akin to other revolutionary systems such as the machine gun, the airplane, and the tank, all of which changed battlefield tactics. No longer will our Soldiers have to expose themselves by firing and maneuvering to eliminate an enemy behind cover. Our Soldiers can remain covered/protected and use their XM25 to neutralize an enemy in his covered position. This will significantly reduce the risk of U.S. casualties and change the way we fight.”
The XM25 is one half of the original system envisioned by the XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon, where a similar 20mm grenade launcher was mated to a short-barreled assault rifle unit, which itself was later spun off into the XM8 program, cancelled in 2004.