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One thing I love about being in the US Army is that we take the Tony Stark approach on weapons: “they say that the best weapon is the one you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree. I prefer the weapon you only have to fire once. That’s how Dad did it, that’s how America does it, and it’s worked out pretty well so far” T.S. It’s no secret in this country we like our weapons big, bad, and deadly. The US Government contracts all these tools of war to our wonderful defense contractors and sometimes budgets get cut, money shifted, political changes, etc can effect whether our soldiers get new gear or not. Some news dropped yesterday about a new weapons system being fielded to our warriors in Afghanistan called the XM-25 Airburst weapon (smart gun). This weapon from what I can see is designed by the experts at Heckler and Koch. I’m certainly no weapons expert but I know my fair share of weapons and have used a majority of what the Army issues out to the troops.
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The XM-25 is part of an initiative that has been going on since the late 90′s called the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program. Basically this weapon fires a 25mm High Explosive round at a target and knows precisely when to explode. Of course a direct impact would cause some damage but not nearly as effective as explosion within a few feet of the target. A laser range finder automatically finds the distance to the target and tell the warhead precisely when to explode. The design will allow you to fire over or past a covered position and do the damage to the enemy cowering behind it. Today, as far as small arms go, we have to simply blast through a target or penetrate it with larger ordinance to get at whats inside. So is this weapon truly a game changer on the battlefield? Quite possibly. I have not used anything like this short of an automatic grenade launcher that really just causes too much collateral to use. This surely wont win the war, but will give our boots on the ground more firepower when taking out the garbage.
Image courtesy of Mark Hess
One thing to consider is that this weapon is not a replacement for a soldier’s assault rifle. This will be carried in addition to the current weapon that they are carrying now. Standard weight is about 14lbs, plus extra ammo which I assume they will be carrying. The technology side of the weapon is pretty sweet. We know there is a laser range finder for sure, other things I dug up are a variable 4X thermal sight, and variable 2X optical site. Thermal is ideal because it will let you see the heat signature behind walls and other cover, perfect for what this weapon is designed to engage. The running cost is said to be about $25K-35K each and the rounds are about $25 a shot. That’s a lot of money, but not really if you could see the running tally of what we pay for battlefield equipment today. The Army plans on picking up about 12,500 of these in 2011, which is said to be enough that each squad in Afghanistan gets one to play with. There are other variant of the XM series weapons, this must be the first one that I’ve actually seen some progress on. One thing I have to agree with, the US Army gets the best toys in the business to play with, as long as they keep focus on saving lives rather than taking them, Ill all about it. Hopefully we at least see this bad boy soon in a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor update.
Thanks to B. Welsh for the heads up.