RIP: Army Finally Cancels XM25 ‘Punisher’

    The US Army has officially cancelled its XM25 ‘Punisher’ Counter Defilade Target Engagement weapon system after years of development and funding problems. The program first ran into trouble back in 2016, when the Department of Defense Inspector General published a damning report stating that the handle of the program had been mishandled.

    The XM25, a bullpup air-burst, direct-fire weapon for engaging targets behind cover, originally began as an offshoot of the Army’s Objective Individual Combat Weapon program, which itself was an offshoot of the abortive Advanced Combat Rifle program. Production of the XM25 had been continually delayed since 2014, with problems stemming from both the Army and also Heckler & Koch and Orbital ATK, the manufacturers. After almost 20 years of development work the program ground to a halt in 2017, with the Army terminating their contract with Orbital ATK failed to deliver 20 prototype weapons for field testing and evaluation.

    XM25 in Afghanistan c.2010-13 with ISAF (DoD/US Army)

    Since 2017, the program had all but ceased to exist with no contractor able to produce the complex weapon system. At the time Product Manager Individual Weapons, the department heading up the program, said “there is a requirement within the Army to have an air-burst, direct-fire capability within our formation. The Army is reassessing the actual requirement itself, and we are pursuing material solutions.”

    Following the cancellation of the contract Orbital ATK launched legal proceedings against their project partnet Heckler & Koch, blaming the German company for their failure to deliver on the contract. In July 2018, the two firms settled their dispute with Heckler & Koch paying ATK just $7.5 million in compensation.

    According to Stars & Stripes the Army have now formally terminated the XM25 program, as part of a waste cutting exercise, with an official memorandum being signed on 24th July. Despite the termination of the program the Army has received the rights to the programs research and development data and assets from ATK and Heckler & Koch as part of a negotiated settlement for the failure to fulfil the production contract. Stars & Stripes estimate that the program’s cancellation could save the Army as much as $970 million.


    Matthew Moss

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]