Army to get serious on XM25 Air Burst Grenade Launcher

XM25-Grenade-Launcher

A report from Jane’s has stated that the U.S. Army is putting fiscal priority on the Counter Defilade Target Engagement XM25 Grenade Launcher in this upcoming year, thus underlining the degree to which the service is committed to getting this weapon standardized. We’ve been reporting on the 25mm XM25 program for a while now, and throughout previous years the Army has ramped up testing and evaluation of the grenade launcher back in the States. If you recall, the XM25 was used in Afghanistan under a Limited Rate Production and T&E role, to which it performed very well, until one of the units accidentally exploded while in operation, almost killing the soldier behind it. The program was put on a standstill and this is where we are today. Currently the Army is requesting almost 10 million dollars for the upcoming fiscal year, with increasing fiscal requests up until 2021.

What is wrong with the current M203 and M320 40mm grenade launchers that the Army currently uses? Well for one, they are limited by their range as compared to the XM25 which seems to have an effective range out to 500 meters, while the M203 goes out to only 375 meters as per current standards. The Milkor Mk32 extends that to 400 meters because of the optical sight, as does the H&K M320 that goes out to 400 meters. These ranges were a drawback in Afghanistan where the Taliban knew that they could engage American foot patrols beyond 600 meters with PKM medium machine guns, and American troops were hard pressed to fire back as the T/O infantry squad doesn’t have anything that extends past 600. Granted M240s and sniper rifles come to that range at ease, but snipers can’t go out on every patrol, and M240s are usually integral to a weapons platoon and not a line platoon. But the biggest advantage the XM25 has is in the pre programmed air burst capacity, where the user can set the exact range and height they want the grenade to explode at. This gives a soldier the advantage of being able to explode a grenade behind an enemies cover. With a traditional 203 or 320, even if the target is in range, you’d have to get the shot placement just right to get a grenade to land directly behind some sort of defilade, which is pretty hard to do under the stress of a firefight.

The US Army has prioritised the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) weapon as its “number one materiel solution to mitigate a critical capability gap” for dismounted soldiers in combat, and is officially kicking off the programme in its fiscal year (FY) 2017 budget request.

Defeating defilade targets at 35-500 m is a crucial requirement for dismounted troops, as squad-sized elements have found firefights too often become stalemates once each side hides behind structures. The XM25 is designed to be a lightweight, squad-carried means of attacking defilade personnel without air support or fires support.

Accordingly, the army has requested USD9.764 million in FY 2017 for the programme and hopes for USD14.852 million in FY 2018, USD24.930 million in FY 2019, USD32.158 million in FY 2020, and USD25.798 million in FY 2021.


Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • G0rdon_Fr33man

    Looks like something designed by a bureaucrat…

    • Joshua

      It’s actually a pretty advanced system. However the optic is about 1/3 the size of the one pictured nowm

    • Emfourty Gasmask

      This is actually a legitimately high speed piece of technology that can easily change battlefield dynamics at a squad level. One of these means suddenly any form of cover within its range will be severely less effective, especially if there is no roof or some kind of protection against the air burst grenades up top.

      Definitely an incredibly effective system overall, compared to some other projects.

  • zxcv

    You’re kind of off on the effective ranges. You’re listing the effective range against area targets of the 40mm launchers vs the effective range against point targets for the XM25. Effective range against point targets for the 40mm launchers is somewhere around 150 meters and the effective range against area targets for the XM25 is 700 meters.

    • CommonSense23

      If you have the new optics for HK it vastly increases the point target range, even for people with zero training.

  • Lance

    Well Miles hte XM-25 is being added to a squad so it wont replace the M-203 and M-320 just supplement them in a infantry squad.

  • Tony Williams

    The “pre programmed air burst capacity” is now available for 40mm low-velocity grenades, also the new 40mm medium-velocity (with maximum ranges out to 700-800 metres) as well as the MK19 type high-velocity.

    • zxcv

      >The “pre programmed air burst capacity” is now available for 40mm low-velocity grenades

      Last I checked, the SAGM still has a few more years before it’s ready. From what I understand they’re still going to be adopted to supplement the XM25.

      >also the new 40mm medium-velocity (with maximum ranges out to 700-800 metres)

      Are you talking about the LVER 40mm grenades? Those only have a maximum range of 600 meters. If you’re talking about the ERLP 40mm grenades that can be used with the Milkor MGL, those won’t work unless the launcher was designed to handle them and can’t be used in the M203 and M320 launchers

      >as well as the MK19 type high-velocity.

      Those weigh a bit more than twice as much as the 25mm grenades that the XM25 uses (~3/4 of a pound vs ~1/3 of a pound per round). You can also carry about 50% more 25mm grenades than standard velocity 40mm grenades (the later of which weigh ~1/2 of a pound each).

      • buzzman1

        Not to mention the high velocity 40mm’s used in the MK19 would blow up a 203.

        • To say nothing of the shooters shoulder.

          • buzzman1

            Mark,
            People forget the soldier part of the equation and forget that some weapons are just not as easy on the shoulder as the AR’s.

            Research for the XM25 started in 91. In 92 they started doing tests to see how much recoil a soldier could stand before he started flinching as he pulled the trigger. I was in a test group for this and they took some nice over/under 12 gauge shotguns and loaded them with 3 in magnum duplex turkey loads. Those rounds would have been tolerable except they had removed one of the barrels, milled out as much of the receiver as they could without weakening it, removed the trigger guards, ditto front grips and recoil pad and also skeletonized what was left of the stock. We had to shoot 5 rounds. No one shot accurately after the 1st.

            I have shot some horrid weapons before and nothing hurt me as bad as that shotgun did.

          • Wow, that’s amazing. Were they trying to hit a certain ft/lbs worth of recoil with that milling, or just being sadists-er, scientists? That sounds absolutely brutal, like the Scandium .357 J-frame of shotguns.

          • buzzman1

            Felt recoil is a combination of 3 main things in rifles without buffer systems: powder charge, bullet weight, and the weight of the rifle. The 3 in magnum duplex rounds took care of the first 2 and by turning the shotgun into the lightest possible configuration that would self destruct took care of the 3rd. Lots of people years ago bought the light weight .30-06’s when they came out because they were tired of lugging around a heavy rifle. They discovered their new rifle kicked like a mule and they didnt shoot it as much as they did the old one.

            Really brutal were the original M-240’s. When the US officially adopted them we put a buffer system on them because it hurt to shoot them. The heavy weapon didnt seem to mitigate the recoil at all and every time you pulled the trigger it was 6-9 rounds of pure brutal recoil. I did a 50 round belt on that old beast and walked away to let someone else have a turn:-)

            The old 10 gauge shotguns werent a lot of fun either.

          • jcitizen

            Hmm? I wonder why the M240 didn’t have similar recoil forces as the M60? The weight was similar! Maybe the moving parts were smacking the back plate more than I suspected.

          • buzzman1

            The 240 was developed in the mid-50s and the way they were still using WW2 tactics which said machine guns were emplaced so they were mostly used with Tripods. The M-60’s were developed to be used by foot soldiers to increase firepower and improve it mobility. It was developed with a recoil buffer systems which made it a very pleasant MG to fire. It suffered from a bad barrel change out design and the idiots in charge decided to put the belts in cardboard boxes instead of plastic so the boxes had a bad habit of coming apart in Vietnam because of the moisture and jamming the weapon. And it needed a lot of maintenance.

          • jcitizen

            My M60 experience was extremely negative – I think the Class 9 supply system got flooded with inferior operating rods, left over from ‘Nam; and the metal was too soft just under the bolt cam roller. This caused them to completely fail to operate, unless the armorer could stone the burrs in an emergency. No amount of grease or lubrication could solve this – it might have been the supply channel our division was under, but I just couldn’t accept this as a valid weapon. When the first 240 variants came out they were for tankers in our unit. These weapons were like a dream for us!

            As far as the barrel change, it was at least easier than the old M2 30 cal, and the HBMG, and because it had the bipod on the barrel, you could easily stand the barrel up for cooling and avoid warping it. Today’s heat pads might work better – I’ve never tried them yet. The shooters I know usually have enough fire discipline to keep the barrel they are using in the weapon and in good working condition, but the most modern model they shoot is the PKM, so I can’t claim experience with the new LMGs. When I left the 49th Armored, we only had the M249 to supplement the M60, but I wasn’t the armorer in that unit, so I missed out on any peccadilloes that system had.

          • buzzman1

            By the time most of use got our hands on the M-60 they were worn out junk. The original 249 was a pretty good light MG but the army screwed it up. Now the military wants something really light that can be fired with the pinpoint accuracy of a rifle. MGs have always been an area weapon but there are some that are that accurate.

          • jcitizen

            The LSAT comes as close as I’ve heard to your specifications, if you believe the early test reports.

          • buzzman1

            The H & K MG-5 is pretty good too. Combat doctrine often dictates weapons design. The M-249, 240, M60 etc were designed at first for fixed position firing and not to used as an assault weapon. They were also used as wide area suppression weapons but I guess a lot of our Generals forgot everything they learned in Infantry Officers Basic. Now they want new lightweight MG’s to actually work with 30 year old doctrine. At least the weight of the MG will be substantially lighter. Army trying to develop ceramic barrels to combat the overheating and warpage problem. They even want integrated suppressors too.

          • jcitizen

            My buddies MG3 isn’t too bad either! It still has a cone of fire, but it tightens up considerably when put in the Lafette mount. With the rapid advance of materials now, I wouldn’t doubt they get what they want soon.

          • buzzman1

            MG#’s are great weapons but based on 1920’s technology. People want modern upgrades.

          • jcitizen

            True – even though CNCs can put out a roller lock system with considerable ease and at cheaper expense, that doesn’t mean it is the best. There was always and still is a bolt bounce problem with it. The fact that it needs a rather convoluted booster system, doesn’t help in the weight category either. It is time for a new design, in my opinion, but then I’m no authority on the matter; just an enthusiast. The ammo research going into the LSAT is probably the most fascinating thing about that program, as it will change that part of the logistics forever. NATO will be thrown into another painful decision on what technology to adopt for all western allied nations.

          • buzzman1

            Ultimately the NATO countries will adopt whatever caliber ammunition that we do simply because the depend on us for there ammunition needs.

            Back in the days of the Cold War when military budgets were high, the average NATO country had 1-2 days worth of ammo in storage. We had about 10 days. So who do you think was going to resupply them.

            Now the NATO countries have decimated their militaries and probably have less than a basic combat load of ammo for their combat troops and next to nothing for their support soldiers they will have to lean on us for ammo. Maybe the brits will even buy decent ammo instead of that cheap dirty crap they use now.

            Replacing worn out/outdated weapons with more accurate ones would be the smart thing to do even if it meant changing ammo. Besides they can sell their old ammo to the US civilian market.

          • jcitizen

            Well I’ll be! I sure didn’t know all that foreign surplus ammo I was buying all this time was made in the US! Much of it beats the stuff I buy from Lake City! Maybe that is why NATO is short on ammo, they sold most of it to US civilians! HA! You can’t beat British made .50 cal ammo – I don’t know how they got that over here without the reloading rule or other import restriction Obama put on military surplus, but I could tell it was factory packed. The case head dates put it newer than the restriction set by the BATF!! Weird!? Us built is obviously reloaded. Those blow case heads once and a while.

          • buzzman1

            A lot of US ammo is actually made in Israel as part of our military assistance. It also gives them easy access to a few hundred million rounds of ammo if they need it. Brit .56 is so dirty that soldiers who get it and use it on the range are supposed to give their rifles an extra thorough cleaning before leaving the range or risk a malfunction.
            Many of the NATO countries make small amounts of ammo for their own forces and military sales to foreign countries keeps the factories operational.

            I once shot .50 cal ammo that was packed in 39. It functioned flawlessly but was so smoky you had to wait for the smoke to clear after every burst,

          • jcitizen

            The oldest I’ve fired was 1945, and of course it was pretty corrosive, I didn’t notice the smoke, because I was still enamored with the reality of being a genuine M2 HBMG owner at the time. I was pretty freaked out by the fun of shooting it! I was just a kid, and didn’t know what formula to clean the barrel though, and ended up destroying a perfectly good stellite lined chamber! Since then I found that good ole antique military bore cleaner marked POISON, works the best, bar none.

          • Uniform223

            I always liked the Negev LMG. Knights Stoner 63A also looks pretty awesome too

            From my understanding its a updated version to the Stoner LMG.

          • buzzman1

            Not a MG expert but without seeing the LMG actually fire I see two problems. Nothing does everything but they need to offer shorter and longer barrel options. Also the ejection port is going to break when they put it in the hands of soldiers. Seems like everyone forgets the sheer destructive power a bore pvt can have. I once saw a very expensive piece of equipment the manufacturer had assured us was private proof sustain $25,000 worth of damage withing 5 minutes of the soldiers putting their hands on it:-)

            It really is time the SAW was retired. Its 1970’s technology and the army screwed up the system so it never performed like it could have and its to heavy.

    • John

      Here’s the big question: can regular 40mm grenades out of an M203 be used with the XM25 launcher?

      • Out of the Blue

        Nope, they’re different calibers.

        • John

          So… that’s a major problem then. They’d be better off making a version that can, and call it the XM40.

          • buzzman1

            Its called the M-203

    • aka_mythos

      I think another aspect to this we should consider was the impetus for the XM-25. In addition to being out ranged on the battlefield in the urban environment the there was a need for a weapon that minimized collateral damage and far too many situations where the standard 40mm grenades were too much.

      A 40mm destroys what in a room and possibly penetrated the rooms next to it. XM-25 they just want to kill what is in the room while leaving the room intact.

      • Phillip Cooper

        When we’re talking mud huts in many cases, or the typical construction of facilities in third-world locales, I don’t think it’s safe to go assuming any weapons system caoable of engaging at hundreds of meters is going to be terribly discriminating when it comes to only taking out the one room.

        • aka_mythos

          It has the same level of lethality just within a smaller area of effect. It’s not assumption as much as risk mitigation.

          Not to get too philosophical but just war theory dictates for a war to be just it me conducted with the minimal amount of force prudent and necessary. That doesn’t mean we don’t blow some one to bits only that its necessary we try not to blow their neighbors up too.

  • IshTheBuddha

    I suppose it depends on the individual unit and how they organize their platoons.However, since BCT (2009, so pretty recent) I’ve always been trained/taught that M240’s are organic to each individual platoon and organized into a “weapons squad” rather than having a separate weapons platoon. Every patrol going out should have M240’s available to them. But Again, I suppose it depends on the individual unit/organization and their specific mission. I’ve only been exposed to the Army side of things.

    • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

      Sorry, my google fu is not functional at this time. What is BCT?

      • Uniform223

        Either Basic Combat Training i.e Boot Camp or it mean Brigade Combat Team.

        • Marco Antonio Gonzalez

          Thanks people

      • IshTheBuddha

        What Uniform223 said. I was specifically referring to Basic Combat Training.

  • Kev

    This is fantastic news weapons like like the XM25 and other systems such as the Raytheon PIKE, Rheinmettall Hydra and preprogrammable 40mm air burst for existing launchers are the biggest leap forward since WW2

  • aka_mythos

    If they want to get serious the first thing they need to do is sign a contract for a large enough volume for the ammunition. Last I heard the ammunition is still be assembled by hand in a prototype lab instead of a factory by assembly line.

    • At according to wikipedia, $1,000 per shell.

      • iksnilol

        “Please don’t miss… I can’t afford another shell.”

      • aka_mythos

        I worked with people from the project team. The $1000 a shell is prototype build pricing for buying 3000 shells at a time, each hand built by an overqualified engineer. It’s never moved into a true manufacturing mass production environment so there is no volume pricing, there is more overhead, and it takes 10 times as long. The pricing in mass production is competitive to 40mm grenades. Despite the cost they have had to build them this way mostly because of a bureaucracy which will fund R&D and prototypes easily but requires an overly burdensome process to requalify a qualified design and move an item into standard inventory.

        • Thank you, that’s great info. When you say competitive with 40mm grenades, what would the ballpark cost be once these moved into full production?

          • aka_mythos

            I can’t say precisely without getting into proprietary/trade secrets sorta territory… So let’s say the 40mm grenades that the Army set as a price point goal cost $50-$100 per piece. The next phase of manufacturing they’d still be about 50% more than that goal but with clear goals to mature the production line.

            The last estimates I heard placed it on the high end of that because of a tightening of source controls on the electronics after some ITAR issues with a rocket program that discovered counterfeit Chinese parts in their manufacturing lines from a verified source that resulted in the list of verified sources shrinking significantly.

            There was also R&D done on a more conventional round that was less than 1/3 the cost but lacked the air-burst. It’s far enough along they’re thinking about other types of rounds for it.

          • Well even at $250 I think it would be totally worth it. I wonder if a WW2 style proximity fuse would be a cost effective compromise between air burst and conventional impact munitions?

          • aka_mythos

            Given the greater compact size of antennas nowadays it’d certainly be feasible, but I don’t know if it’d necessarily be cheaper enough.

      • USMC03Vet

        Still far cheaper than cruise missiles and drones.

        • And possibly cheaper than conventional ammunition if the factoid of “250,000 rounds per kill” alleged in Iraq is true.

          • iksnilol

            Doesn’t that factoid count the ammo used in training as well?

          • I have no idea what it counts, or whether it is even true.

            Anecdotally, if you watch videos of firefights from Iraq and Afghanistan, there is a ton of firing going on. If all that suppressive fire could be reduced by 80% through the use of airbursting grenades, then it would likely be a cost savings even at $1000 a shell.

          • USMC03Vet

            lol what. Who is claiming this?

          • It was an estimate by the General Accounting Office from 2007.

            Previous accountings, such as the 1972 SHAPE Technical Center, “Rates of Expenditure of Ammunition in Relation to Posture” study, show the huge expenditure of ammo fire in firefights, of which it is clear most do not result in fatalities (suppressive fire, misses, etc.)

            Here’s an example from WW2:

            Average daily ammunition expenditures for the 90th Infantry Division, 1—31 July 1944 (31-day period):

            Cal. 30 Carbine – 7,251.52

            Cal. 30 Ball, 5 clip (BAR) – 9,855.23

            Cal. 30 Ball, 8 clip (M1 rifle) – 27,885.90

            Cal. 30 Ball, MG – 30,382.90

            Cal. 45 Ball (M1911, M1 & M3 SMGs) – 2,611.39

            Cal. 50 MG – 2,627.39

          • USMC03Vet

            ugh, this is what happens when bean counters don’t serve and realize mag dumps is a common thing and often has nothing to do with the enemy.

  • This is exciting news, and will likely come to redefine infantry weapons in the 21st century.

  • Darren Hruska

    Hopefully that double-feed issue has been worked out by now…

  • Joshua

    It’s also worth noting the XM25 didn’t blow up due to any issue with the weapon.

    It blew up because a stoppage occured and the second round being fed struck the primer of the first detonating it. It was an ammunition problem.

    • M

      Uh, that sounds like a double feed which is definitely a weapon problem

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      No, thats definitely a weapons malfunction issue.

      • Joshua

        A stoppage is generally attributed to the magazine.

        However the round going off was an ammunition problem.

        You don’t see 5.56 rounds detonating due to double feeds? Yes the weapons magazine caused a double feed. However primers that were to exposed caused the explosion.

        Otherwise it would have just been a double feed.

        • Giolli Joker

          A bullet tip of 5.56 slamming on the primer would detonate the cartridge in front, highly unlikely and unlucky event, but not impossible I suppose.
          Surely, with the blunt tips of 25mm rounds you really need to have a primer too exposed.

    • zxcv

      Only reason it blew up from the doublefeed was because the idiot grunt who was using it was cracking off the plastic tips on the grenades when he was bored. The problem has since been remedied by seating the primer slightly further into the base of the casing, and hopefully instructing other soldiers not to be idiots and repeat that as it could also cause the grenades to explode at the wrong distance.

    • Xeno Da Morph

      “An XM25 experienced a double feed and an unintentional primer ignition of one round,” Army spokesman Matt Bourke stated in a March 7 written release, describing the Feb. 2 incident. “The Army subsequently removed all XM25 prototype weapons and ammunition from theater for root cause analysis and corrective action.”

      • Joshua

        Yeah. And had the primed been seated differently the round being double fed wouldn’t have detonated the primer.

        The gun caused the double feed, the ammo caused the explosion.

        • Xeno Da Morph

          But words and stuff……..

  • GD Ajax

    Yay, no 127.0.0.0 error.

    One double feed and Luddites think they have the ammo to declare it a POS. The Army was going to move forward with this program no matter what Congress says.
    700 meters is DMR range. Making it better suited to take in place of a M240/M14/M110 at the squad level.

    • John

      One double feed that almost killed the soldier firing it. Weapons that blow up tend to drop morale, y’know.

      If the launcher can fire regular dumb 40mm grenades, you’ll have a standard issue XM25.

      • GD Ajax

        I.e. Stuff that only happens you’re ammo made by hand or have a poorly made prototype or the armorer didn’t know what he doing before handing the weapon over.

        Not possible to fire a 40mm grenade out of a 25mm weapon. Better use the Rheinmetall Hydra for that.
        The 40mm version itself is going to require a whole new weapon. With half the range.

        • John

          >The 40mm version itself is going to require a whole new weapon. With half the range.

          The Air Force outfitted all the “dumb” bombs left over from World War II, Korea and Vietnam with fins and gear to turn them into “smart” bombs. That’s where the JDAM concept comes from.

          I expect they’ll work on miniaturizing it for all the existing 40mm grenades they have, and make a launcher for that.

  • iksnilol

    So it is Facebook official then?

  • Kyle

    So the USMC will be getting these around 2035 when the army discards them I assume. These are fun in Battlefield 4 though. Makes the little l33t sniper kids so angry.

  • John

    >”Defeating defilade targets at 35-500 m is a crucial requirement for
    dismounted troops, as squad-sized elements have found firefights too
    often become stalemates once each side hides behind structures. The XM25
    is designed to be a lightweight, squad-carried means of attacking
    defilade personnel without air support or fires support.”

    Translation: “50-year-old RPGs are very effective and scary. We want our own. May as well make it cool to boot.”

    • buzzman1

      I always thought that the US should go to a RPG type system. Even the old LAWs would be of good use to an infantry PLT.

      • Rodney Steward

        Yep, seems to be working well for ISIS!!!!

      • Uniform223

        If they could make a reloadable version of the M72 LAW… that would be great. It can’t take on modern MBT but it would definitely hurt light armored vehicles and damage medium armored vehicles.

        • buzzman1

          Actually the LAW was reloadable but it was intended for a one time use. Army loves self contained rockets and missiles with throw away launch tubes.

          The follow on was the AT-4. When we received our first batch I had a good laugh because it was supposed to be able to take out any soviet tank at the time and an insert in the crates they came in said “WARNING! NOT INTENDED FOR USE AGAINST TANKS!”

          The AT-4 made a bigger boom but the LAWS penetrated better.

          The RPGs are more versatile and can use a variety of rounds per mission needs. They are also cheaper. The Nazis invented the parent of the RPG called the “Panzerfaust” or Tank Fist. Some people believe if it had been invented at the first of the war instead of at the end, the Germans would have defeated the Soviets.

          We probably never accepted it because it was invented by the Nazi’s (not invented here syndrome).

  • takirks

    Lemme see about this thing… Let us just stop and think about it for a moment: Long-range weapon, one firing a significant projectile. Bare physics considered, this is going to be a fairly hefty weapon to fire. Offhand, I might add. No bipod or provision for support. No tripod mount, and the grenades are comparatively tiny in terms of delivered payload, compared to the target. So… What, exactly, are they going to accomplish with this wonderful new toy, aside from making a bunch of contractors and retired DOD small arms types wealthy?

    The parameters for the XM-25 might make sense, were it fired fully automatic, in bursts, and off a decent mount. As it is, in a semi-auto, offhand-supported package? I don’t see it having any really significant effect on any tactical scenario I can think of. At the max range, which is where this thing starts to make sense, I’m not seeing the typical gunner getting it into close enough range to the targets to make it effectively lethal–Not firing single grenades semi-automatically from the shoulder.

    Additionally, everything I heard coming back from the “testing” in Afghanistan smacked of magical thinking–“We took fire; we fired back with the XM-25 WunderWaffe; the enemy quit firing…”. Nobody went downrange to actually do BDA, or try to tie actual enemy casualties into the XM-25. Per one guy that was there, to his knowledge, they never observed one single actual enemy casualty caused by this weapon. NOT. ONE.

    And, the reports that were made public just lauded this thing to the max. I’m not buying it, at all. Show me the dead bodies, and the actual proof that they were caused by the XM-25, and that it was used in accordance with all the hype. Until that happens, I’m going to continue to consider this thing a sad joke. There is probably a reason the Rangers refused to take the thing out into the field for testing, and they had to pawn it off on line Infantry units, many of whom were equally unimpressed.

    They’ve been trying to get this thing into the field since it was called SPIWS, and I’m still not seeing the utility of it, except in certain very limited roles like engaging bunkers with firing slits that I can’t get a cannon to fire in. And, even then, there are better solutions, like a damn Carl Gustav.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Seen this discussed before, I think the biggest reason the Rangers didn’t want it is that it makes the soldier a 1-trick pony- the system is already heavy, and of limited use- not everything needs a small-bore rocket shoved up its ass. Also, the troop now “looks important” and thus becomes the first target in ambush.

      • Hyok Kim

        “Seen this discussed before, I think the biggest reason the Rangers didn’t want it is that it makes the soldier a 1-trick pony- the system is already heavy, and of limited use- not everything needs a small-bore rocket shoved up its ass”
        Based on what I read, the weight and man portability was the issue. Easily solvable using mules. The elite German AlpineJagers and the French in Italian campaign extensively utilized mules for heavy duty man portable duty, to the extent that Germans routinely killed all the mules when they retreated if they couldn’t take the mules with them to deny the Allies infantry the use of mules.
        French infantry broke the Gustav line in Italy, relying on mules, because Jeeps could not do the job. Even some German tanks ended up getting stuck in the rugged terrain of Central Italy.

        • jcitizen

          I think you hit it on the nail head; though I do doubt the US Army wants to get into animal husbandry again. They’ve been out of that since WW2. The logistics of all that hay, makes it very difficult to support these animals. Hopefully a way to design the thing as a lighter unit will prevail. I think they should have used a China Lake design similar to the original 40mm one – just mount the auto ranging system to that, and make it chamber the new round. It should be MUCH easier to hump that around, and less likely to fail. If the ranging system fails, then dump it and use iron sites – hopefully point detonation without the ranger sight would be possible. It might even be light enough the trooper could carry an alternate backup weapon in case even this fails.

          • Hyok Kim

            http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mules_afghanistan.php

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragoons_of_Angola

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey%27s_Scouts

            http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dewback
            In the documentary of the Disney mountain movie, ‘Third Man from the Mountain’, it was told that they used 4wd trucks to move the equipment and mules, and hay to as high as 4wd would go after that, they used the mules to carry it to where only a man could go.

          • jcitizen

            To me that was tactically and logistically different – Special Forces are one of the few units that actually train for that, and they always contract indigenous sources for their animals and supplies. It was not hard to find willing contractors that hated the Taliban bad enough to help, but the money was what talks. It was a very smart move, and I wished they would have kept that whole Afghan operation like that and not got into nation building. It wasn’t going to need that to get the targeted individuals we had on our list of terrorists. The whole operation should have stayed as spec/ops from beginning to end. Just my opinion of course.

            As far as that goes they should never have fired the Iraq Army, and they should have kept Saddam in power, but simply checked for WDM, and got the hell back out of there – I could see this right from the start, but I wasn’t sure until I realized Bush didn’t even have a plan of what to do after deposing the dictator. It was dumb and dumber extraordinaire!

          • Uniform223

            “but I wasn’t sure until I realized Bush didn’t even have a plan of what to do after deposing the dictator.”

            > NO ONE HAD A PLAN. Not the President, Joint Chiefs, Politicians, whoever. They only had a plan to get there. After that it was make it up as we go along and then later on an actual plan.

          • jcitizen

            Whatever happened to heroes like General Marshall? He had a plan, and Germany and the whole EU is better off because of it.

      • brainy37

        The 1 trick pony argument is old and frankly doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on. The same argument was made with the M79 system which became the M203 under the same arguments. And yet nearly 30 years after it’s “replacement” the M79 keeps popping up in arms rooms of modern armies. A dedicated grenadier who knows his business is going to be useful in almost any small arms engagement except for CQC. Even then you can equip them with pistols or submachine guns as they did the M79 grenadiers in Vietnam.

    • Uniform223

      You make some “legitimate arguments”.

      I’ll tell you what… you carry around a M3 Carl Gustav all day and tell me how you feel.

    • Phil Hsueh

      It works because even if you didn’t kill the enemy but caused them to run you’ve effectively won the firefight. It also allows the operator to effectively engage an enemy behind cover without having to necessarily blow through the cover first. You got a bad guy hiding behind a rock or a bit of wall? Fire over said rock or bit of wall and set the grenade to go off once it’s past the obstacle. Same goes with if you got someone hiding inside a building and shooting through a window, send the round through the window and set it to detonate shortly after.

  • Bill

    Completely OT: when did we in the U.S. start having “programmes?” Sounds suspiciously English to me.

  • Rob

    The linked story states:

    “The round involved was a 25mm high-explosive air burst round, though
    the warhead did not detonate because of safety mechanisms,” Bourke said.
    “The gunner training on the weapon system received superficial
    injuries, was medically evaluated, and returned to duty.”

    That doesn’t sound like almost killed.

    • aka_mythos

      Word on the grapevine was that the round did not conform to overall length requirements that resulted in an incomplete closing of the battery when it was fired; case failure and subsequent shrapnel.

      The XM-25 is reinforced to protect the soldier in case of an in barrel detonation of the round.

      • Phillip Cooper

        Sounds like poor design of the weapon, then. Small arms are routinely manufactured to not fire OOB, don’t see why this couldn’t.

        • aka_mythos

          Many would say the same of .300blk blowing up 5.56 rifles. It’s happened enough times.

          I’d guess improper case sizing was the cause.

          • Phillip Cooper

            I wasn’t aware this was a concern with the 300blk. Thanks!

          • aka_mythos

            I asked around. So apparently the failure in this instance was caused by a double feed. Where the nose of a second round struck the primer on a chambered round as the bolt was closing.

          • jcitizen

            The fuse design make premature detonation impossible in the 40mm rounds, but where this fuse head is more sophisticated I would not be surprised if the safety concerns were valid. There is no dealing with the launch shell failure though. That is something that is a set science that won’t change unless some kind of super material is invented. Perhaps their ammo loading rid was flawed.

          • aka_mythos

            As the round is fired, it has a gravity sensor that counts the number of spins as it traverses the rifling and subsequent journey. It is incapable of arming in the barrel and has a minimum distance beyond before it is armed. It is designed to be safe in a obstructed barrel test, where even if a grenade is jammed in the barrel and another one strike it from the rear, neither can detonate.

          • jcitizen

            I am very familiar with the 40 mike mike, as I studied engineering under the man that designed part of it, and also the fuse for the 25mm cannon round; but this new tech is probably different. Thanks for commenting on the newer reality. I read elsewhere today, that this particular ammo is still being made custom, one round at a time, so I wouldn’t doubt a mistake in seating the warhead, or loading the launch charge, or primer ignition, could end up flawed. Some one else here claimed it was the soldiers fault for playing with the ammo. Now that is a claim that will require a link for me to see!

    • John

      The grenade didn’t blow up inside the gun, even though the gun failed and the soldier received “superficial injuries”. I’d call that almost killed, honestly.

      Glad they’re working on fixing that problem.

    • raz-0

      Well there’s two kinds of almost killed. One is the sort where, if not for some extraordinary medical efforts, you would have died. The other is in the realm of “I stepped into the intersection and that crazy driver missed me by an inch going 80mph”.

      It works for the latter meaning.

  • Martin M

    You can tell they are getting serious because they added a grip-pod! It doesn’t get more serious than that. /humor

  • Another interesting question the XM-25 brings up is the development of PDW’s. It seems that carrying a 14lb grenade launcher + grenades would not lend itself to also carrying a M4. However a XM-25 + a pistol leaves the soldier poorly prepared for house to house and CQB combat.

    It seems that some type of thigh-holsterable PDW w/ red dot and stock would be advantageous, such as the MP7 or MP9. Ideally it would be something like MP7, but chambered in a slightly more powerful round like 5.56×30 Mars or .22 Reed Express. A 31gr @ 2700fps from a 7″ barrel would equal the energy of a 55gr @ 2000ft/s from a 7″ AR PDW, in a much more compact package with less blast and flash.

    • aka_mythos

      This was born out of the OICW program originally so there is your missing PDW link. Bulk and weight kept it from having an underslung carbine as it was originally desired. Without it, this will probably be kept as something issued on a platoon level rather than squad level.

      • It seems like the XM-25 would be useful even at the squad level though, and having a capable but compact holsterable PDW would achieve the original goal of the OICW, without having such a bulky contraption.

    • CommonSense23

      Why couldn’t you carry a M4. Everyone I knew who carried a MK15 carried their 10inch at the same time also. The 15 weighed far more than the xm-25.

      • That’s certainly a possibility, but it seems like it would be rather bulky and heavy, especially for urban combat. The XM-25 is not an overwatch weapon the way a Sniper Rifle is (it’s range is only 500-700 yards) so soldiers would have to be closing with the enemy.

        I’d imagined the role of the Grenadier would be more in line with a SAW gunner, where the bulk of their weight would be devoted to their primary weapon and ammunition.

        Adding an M4 and 6 mags would be an extra 14lbs of weight on top of the grenadiers combat load, in addition to the physical space taken by a 30″ rifle and 6 AR mags.

        The Army is almost certainly going to go with you over my PDW plan though.

        • Uniform223

          Why not have an AG (assistant gunner)? An individual who shares in the load of the ammo for the XM25? They do it with the M240.

          • jcitizen

            And an extra M4 incase they have to dump the XM257.

        • jcitizen

          Now you know why they were rejected by units in the field trials. They simply refused to take them with them.

      • NukeItFromOrbit

        Mk.15? I’m not familiar with what that designation. Some sort of grenade launcher?

        • CommonSense23

          It’s the bolt action .50cal.

    • Uniform223

      For all the “glory” that is PDWs… I would rather take a M4A1 CQBR or a Mk18 with a 10.5 or 10.3 inch barrel firing a M855A1 than a MP7 or P90. I can still use the same ammo as my battle buddies and the muscle memory is the same. Its smaller and lighter than the standard M4A1. Just my IMO.

      • I would too as a primary weapon. But if I was lugging around a 14lb grenade launcher as my primary weapon, and kinetic weapons were only for a) house to house and b) defense within 20-30 yards (whatever the safe standoff distance is for a 25mm grenade) I would prefer to just have a thigh mounted PDW.

        The 4.6×30 is a little on the weak side, but bumped up to 500 ft/lbs- 2600ft/s like the .22 Reed Express / Colt mars can do, firing the tumbling SS190 projectile, I would be quite comfortable with that as my sidearm. I’d even be happy with 9mm MP9 so long as it was loaded with anything but FMJ (lehigh XD’s, THV’s, JHP’s)

        My concern is especially with the transition from XM-25 to M4. I imagine the M4 would be strapped to the side of a backpack? How did you envision it would be carried along with the grenade launcher? And how would you deal with it transitioning in and out of vehicles?

        • Uniform223

          “My concern is especially with the transition from XM-25 to M4. I imagine the M4 would be strapped to the side of a backpack? How did you envision it would be carried along with the grenade launcher? And how would you deal with it transitioning in and out of vehicles? ”

          > While the XM25 would be assigned to the soldier, it would not be his primary weapon perse; just his role within the platoon or squad. The XM25 will be used when needed. Much like how soldiers and marines will lug around that M136 AT-4 all day but its not what they are constantly using.

          http://www.pica.army.mil/pmccs/combatmunitions/shoulderlaunched/_images/bdm.jpg

          http://tarakia.weebly.com/uploads/1/6/0/7/1607449/6868447.jpg?434

          as for transitioning out of vehicles… I’d imagine the same way soldiers and marines have always done it. Deploy the Carbine or Rifle first. If the situation calls for more boom boom… go back inside and get it. At least that is how I was trained in convey operations. Besides with 1 or 2 Ma’deuces along with mounted 240s and SAWs… that is plenty of direct fire power to lay down some hurt. If you’re really lucky there might be a mounted Mk19.

          SOP and Training Doctrine will be created and refined as the XM25 enters service more broadly within the US Army.

          • I totally see where you’re coming from, and ultimately what will happen depends on how well the XM-25 performs. If it ends up being just a slightly better Milkor, then it’s just another supplementary tool to the rifleman, and obviously the rifle will remain the dominant instrument.

            My position is based on the XM-25 being just as good as it’s slated to be – a precision air bursting grenade rifle that redefines the nature of infantry combat. Rather than being a tool in the toolbox, it would be THE tool in the toolbox, with all other kinetic weapons being deployed in order to use the XM-25 to best effect. Essentially replacing the rifle as “queen of the battlefield.”

            If (and this is the big if) the XM-25 works as well as the initial reports indicate, essentially all enemy personnel with a known location within 500 meters are dead due to the inability to seek cover from the programable air burst. In a room, on a roof, in a trench, behind sandbags, behind a corner – this airbursting grenade still gets them.

            If that actually proves to be the case, then it completely redefines infantry tactics and what the nature of a firefight would be. Rather than a protracted exchange of fire, maneuver, flanking, marksmanship, and luck, firefights within 500 yards would boil down to “pin them down with suppressive fire long enough for me to airburst grenade them.”

            Continuing on with this unproven but possible scenario, the standard assault rifle really stops being relevant, especially if the new LSAT LMG comes onto line around the same time as the XM-25 hits widespread adoption. The LSAT is roughly M4 length, weighs 9.5lbs, and it’s cased telescopic ammo weighs 40% less than brass 5.56. A 100 round belt weighs 2lbs, as much as 2 loaded 30rd magazines. Now you have a belt-fed weapon roughly the size (albeit a bit heavier) than the M4, allowing it to serve double duty as both a rifle and LMG. And given that ammo is 40% lighter, it’s perfect for suppressive fire…

            …the Squad is completely changed by the XM-25 and LSAT combo. The Grenadier is the primary killer, while two of his teammates with LSAT’s provide suppressive fire. The 4th member of the squad would be the DMR, armed with either a 7.62 cased telescopic autoloader, or a .338. His job is to serve as spotter to the XM-25, and engage threats beyond the 500 yard range of the LSAT’s and XM-25.

            And, in culmination, all of their pistols have been replaced with thigh holsterable PDW’s 😉

      • n0truscotsman

        No kidding.

        Im a bit antithetical to PDWs to be honest. I think given the capabilities of 5.56 in a short barrel, it is still the ‘better’ cartridge. Definitely cheaper in a number of ways.

  • These are pretty cool… But I think I’d rather see a lot more M203’s fielded. Like… twice as many per platoon. With more development on the 40mm ammunition.

    • aka_mythos

      It’d make a poor replacement to the 40mm, its really meant to supplement it. It’s technically a grenade but its tactical use is different.

    • CommonSense23

      203s suck, would be better off handing out more stand alone HKs and MK13s.

  • cs

    The 2nd amendment in it’s purist form says i can own one of these for “hunting and sporting purposes” (hog hunting).

    • ARCNA442

      The second amendment in it’s purest form says you can own of these just because you want to.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Can these people not do math?

    Follow my logic here:
    1- Current TOE basically keeps the line platoon effective out to about 400m (presumably point, not area targets).
    2- XM25 is effective out to 500m
    3- Enemy is engaging from 600m
    4- You’re still being engaged from standoff distance, with a 100m shortfall for outgoing fire.

  • gunsandrockets

    Uh, couldn’t a M320 GL with a laser range finder and firing bouncing air-burst 40mm munitions do 90% of what the XM25 does for only 10% of the cost?

  • Badwolf

    Not an expert. Just curious. Why not go with m224 mortar? It’s 3x heavier than xm25, but it’s 1/3 cheaper. And effective range goes up to 3400m.

    • Uniform223

      The M224 is a mortar… MORTAR. The smaller cousin to 155mm and 105mm field artillery for all intents and purposes. That and it is a crew serve weapon system. You’re comparing apples to pumpkins at this point.

      • Badwolf

        yes i know m224 is a mortar (i said so in my 1st post) and the xm25 isnt. but they are both weapons. im comparing them as weapons. my question wasnt answered. why not a mortar?

        • Badwolf

          anyway im only asking because i thought mortars did the same job as the xm25 which is to explode behind enemy cover. theyve been using these for like a hundred years, so its battle proven, relatively cheap and its got the range. if weight and portability are a problem, why not develop an even smaller version, smaller than m224 so that only 1 person can operate it. im not an expert, im just curious.

          • Accuracy and speed. A mortar is a fixed weapon takes time to set up, and the in it just sits there. The XM-25 is a shoulder fired weapon suitable for mobile combat and rapid target engagement. An enemy pops out, a few seconds later an airbursting grenade is inbound.

            It’s like the difference between a crossbow and ballista.

          • Badwolf

            Thanks mark. Your answer made most sense, was very helpful and not rude

          • jcitizen

            Plus they want to avoid collateral damage more successfully.

        • Uniform223

          A knife is a weapon. A M249 is also a weapon. Realize that they are DIFFERENT types of weapons used for different situations that are employed differently.
          The main difference that the M224 60mm mortar is that it is a indirect form of fire support to the element.

          The XM25 (as I am guessing) will be an organic part of a squad or platoon that will have organic direct support offered by the XM25.

          Also the difference between the trajectory between the 60mm mortar and the 25mm grenade.

        • buzzman1

          The soldiers need a direct fire weapon and not a high arc weapon which is what a mortar and a 203 are.

      • buzzman1

        The Japanese had a small “Knee Mortar” in WW2

  • Trey

    It seemed so appropriate than this stories comment section came up A M1A ad came up with it

  • Robert Rodriguez

    I think a cheaper route might be to slap on a laser rangefinder to your M16/M203 and have some med-hi velocity 40mm rounds with a clock-like fuze built into the nose like the timed munitions for the Carl Gustav that you can adjust. Lase the target for distance, adjust the fuze on the cartridge, load and fire. It would cut down on the weight too as you would not have such a bulky package of electronics to worry about.

  • buzzman1

    The biggest problems with the 40mm round are that (1) it is a high arc projectile, like a mortar, making it hard to engage close targets. Thats is a fancy way of saying it sucks in the direct fire mode.

    (2) The round needs to impact hard on its nose to detonate. Thats why they have a high dude rate when used in sandy areas or when fired low angle.

    (3) Because the round is so big and moves so slow the wind will blow it off course and miss the target completely.

    Currently the only problem I see with the XM25 is that its so big and bulky. Maybe the army should also procure a similar round for point impact use with a fuse to detonate it at max range and a AR style weapon to fire it from.

  • Hyok Kim

    Thanks for the update. This is the future.

  • leonard Haraway

    Just seems to me there is a very large order being purchased for the number of army regulars.I do not pretend to know about the numbers but over the 4 year period,it seems to be many.Maybe there is more than meets the eye here.Do not want to sound suspicious but oh well.Maybe someone out there has a better handle on this than I do.Iwas just reading where seals were not receiving helmets for their lights and there is an investigation with this administration as to the money being there but the troop are not receiving needed equipment!

  • Greg Kelemen

    Just buy the programmed prox fused 40mm rounds from CIS or hang tight for the laser guided 40mm mini missiles from Raytheon.

  • Squirreltakular

    I love the idea, but if I was the grunt that had to carry it, I would much rather shave a few pounds off by making it a bolt action or break action so that I could still carry my M4. Do that and replace the giant scope with a regular optic and hand-set fuses and you might have something low-tech enough that the Marines might adopt.

  • Hyok Kim


    ” As a dedicated grenadier weapon why does it need a rifle component?”

    Rangers’ complaint was the weight. Adding rifle components would make it even heavier.

    “And why would the grenadier be alone in the first place?”
    Why do we even have an army?