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Next Post reports that the U.S. Army has begun deploying its first “smart” shoulder-fired weapon: the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System. Select soldiers in Afghanistan are now blessed with a weapon that fires a 25mm shell a maximum of 2,300 feet which is “nearly the length of eight football fields and well past the range of rifles and carbines that most soldiers carry today.” Make the jump for some more XM25-related gun porn and a brief description of how it works . . .

The soldier measures the distance to a target using a laser site and then dials in where the bullet should explode,” reveals. “Such as at the corner of a building, raining down shrapnel. The bullet has a small magnet inside that lets it generate AC current as it spins and a microprocessor that measures those current oscillations to derive how far it’s traveled.”

So what’s it for? Commentator Martello knows!

Right now, in a regular line infantry squad we have two light machine guns (the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon) and two 40mm grenade launchers (the M203, mounted under an M4 carbine). The XM25 would likely replace the M203, possibly just one of them so the squad would still have the less expensive 40mm HE rounds. Only the XM25 grenadier himself would carry rounds for it, just like an M203 grenadier.

The main drawback of this weapon is that the XM25 grenadier would have to carry both the launcher and an M4, or else not be able to support himself during a firefight. The excess weight would be a problem. The same issue was the main reason the Vietnam-era M79 grenade launcher was replaced by the current-issue M203.

The XM25 would be used as a counter-defilade weapon. When an enemy target is in defilade it means that he is behind some sort of frontal cover, be it the corner of a building, a stone wall, a trench, or even rocks and stumps on a rise. The XM25’s round is designed to burst above or otherwise past the cover and rain shrapnel on the enemy. The 40mm “dumb” grenade from the M203 works the same way, but it has to be arced over the cover and land on the ground close to the target in order to have an effect. It’s not a sniper weapon – it has comparable range with the M24 and M21 sniper rifles currently in use, but it is not a precision weapon. A fragmentation grenade by definition is an area effect weapon.

I so knew that.

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  1. Do WANT!

    Not sure how I would justify using it in a self-defense situation though. "Yes officer, those guys 500 meters away were threatening me."

    • This isn’t a police situation you bonehead, it’s a battlefield where the “enemy” 5-miles away is trying to kill you.

  2. Interesting that they mention the M79, as that was what first came into my mind. I haven't exhaustively researched the utilization of the M79, but I can say I've encountered anecdotal evidence that GIs who carried it in Vietnam were comfortable with it as a primary weapon. Coupled in mission-appropriate environments with a sidearm and the supporting firepower of a fire team or squad, I'm not sure why carrying the XM25 in lieu of an M4 or M16 is a crippling assignment.

    • The reason why is the same as the M79 in Vietnam: the XM25 is essentially a long range, area effect weapon. It is not designed for direct fire. So if the badguys get in close, the XM25 grenadier cannot engage the enemy directly without endangering himself and his comrades (shrapnel does not discriminate between friend and foe). So unless he is carrying a direct fire weapon (a rifle or a pistol), he is pretty much sidelined in a firefight. This was the very reason why the M203 was invented. It gives the grenadier an individual direct fire weapon in addition to his area effect weapon. Further, he is limited in the amount of ammo he can carry. This further limits his utility in a general fight. The XM25 is a niche weapon designed for one specific purpose. That is it’s greatest weakness.

  3. In its original concept, the predecessor to the XM25 was a modular weapon. The main component was the counter-defilade squad support weapon, to which a small 5.56×45 caliber carbine module was attached. The thing was the size of a hard-sided guitar case, and heavier than a vintage Les Paul solid-body. Reportedly they were a hoot to shoot and a beast to carry.

    This combination gun was, IIRC, called the OICW or Objective Individual Combat Weapon. Cost and weight problems killed the combo gun some years ago, but its nice to see that the smart 25mm grenade launcher is alive and well. 25mm shells don’t pack the punch of 40mms, but they shoot much flatter.

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