Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Praxis: XM-25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System. "Game changer" or just another high value sniper target?

U.S. Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' XM25 Rifle in Afghanistan.

Since the dawn of modern warfare, the best way to stay alive in the face of incoming fire has been to take cover behind a wall. But thanks to a game-changing "revolutionary" rifle, the U.S. Army has made that tactic dead on arrival. Now the enemy can run, but he can't hide.

After years of development, the U.S. Army has unleashed a new weapon in Afghanistan -- the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, a high-tech rifle that can be programmed so that its 25-mm. ammunition detonates either in front of or behind a target, meaning it can be fired just above a wall before it explodes and kills the enemy.

It also has a range of roughly 2,300 feet -- nearly the length of eight football fields -- making it possible to fire at targets well past the range of the rifles and carbines that most soldiers carry today.

Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon system for the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, said that the XM25's capability alone is such a "game-changer" that it'll lead to new ways of fighting on the battlefield, beginning this month in Afghanistan.

"With this weapon system, we take away cover from [enemy targets] forever," Lehner told on Wednesday. "Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see [enemies] being able to do is run away."

And that would make it much easier for U.S. troops to put them in their sights, either with that same XM25 or another direct-fire weapon.

With this new weapon in the Army's arsenal, Lehner said, "We're much more effective, by many magnitudes, than current weapons at the squad level. We're able to shoot farther and more accurately, and our soldiers can stay behind sandbags, walls or rocks, which provides them protection from fire."

Lehner said the first XM25s were distributed to combat units in Afghanistan this month. The 12-pound, 29-inch system, which was designed by Minnesota's Alliant Techsystems, costs up to $35,000 per unit and, while highly sophisticated, is so easy to use that soldiers become proficient within minutes.

"That's how intuitively easy it is, even though it's high-tech," Lehner said. "All a soldier needs to know how to do is laze the target. It decimates anything within its lethal radius."

Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile communicates exactly how far it has traveled, allowing for precise detonation behind or ahead of any target.

"We have found that this has really made our soldiers so much more accurate and being able to deliver this high-explosive round in about five seconds," said Lehner, taking into account the time it takes a soldier to laze, aim and fire the weapon. Once fired, Lehner said, the round will reach its target in a "second or two," meaning the entire process from aiming to direct hit lasts less than 10 seconds, compared to 10 minutes or longer for traditional mortar fire.


* Caliber: Low-velocity 25 x 40 mm grenade.
o Thermobaric
o Flechette
o Training
o High-explosive airbursting.
o Non-lethal
* Range: 500 m point, 1000 m area.
* Operation: Gas operated semi-automatic.
* System weight: 14 lbs (6.35 kg).
* Target acquisition/fire control (XM104).
o Weight: 2.54 lbs
o 4x thermal sight with zoom.
o 2x direct view optical sight.
o Ballistic computer.
o Digital compass.
o Laser rangefinder.
o Ammunition fuze setter.
o Environmental sensors.

Go to the link to read the rest. Here's the Wikipedia citation. Got rifle grenades?

The XM25, designed by Minnesota's Alliant Techsystems, has been in development for about seven years and the first prototypes have been doled out to combat units in Afghanistan this month. The 12-pound, 29-inch system, which costs up to $35,000 per unit, is so sophisticated that soldiers are proficient users literally within minutes. (Credit: U.S. Army)

In August 2009, a U.S. soldier successfully fired the XM25 at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland for the first time. The Army plans to purchase at least 12,500 systems beginning next year, or enough for one system in each infantry squad and Special Forces team. (U.S. Army)

Once the XM25's trigger is pulled and the 25-mm. round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside communicates exactly how far it has traveled to the weapon system, allowing for precise detonation behind or ahead of any target.

The XM25's low-velocity ammunition, seen here, has several varieties currently in development, including armor-piercing and high-explosive air-bursting models. Future plans include less-than-lethal rounds and door-breaching capabilities. (U.S. Army)

Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon system for the U.S. Army's Program Executive Office Soldier, said the XM25 is a "game-changer." Lehner continued, "The enemy has learned to get cover, for hundreds if not thousands of years. Well, they can't do that anymore. We're taking that cover from them and there's only two outcomes: We're going to get you behind that cover or force you to flee. So no matter what, we gotcha."

CNN video: video:


Anonymous said...

1) a) Preemption.
b) Dislocation (positional or functional).
c) Disruption.
2) Soldiers fight, Guerrillas kill.

Anonymous said...

If the military begins to focus more on tools than tactics, it's only a matter of time before the enemy figures out a tactic which will make the XM25 less effective.

Anonymous said...

So, $35,000 for the unit (arguably a good chunk of that in the thermal sight)...

Wonder what the cost per round is?

I'd venture the ROI is in "lives saved" PR, more than effectiveness.

G3Ken said...

I have mixed feelings on this weapon system. On one hand, I like the idea that our guys overseas have the means to engage hidden enemies without risking their own lives.

On the other hand, I think back on the words of James Madison that:

"the means of defense against foreign dangers have historically become the instruments of tyranny at home".

I'd prefer not to face an opponent armed with one of these, but I suppose if it became necessary, there would need to be some adapting...just thinking out loud.

Anonymous said...

Got EMP?

Anonymous said...

The guy with the XM-25 still has to know WHERE his targets are. I've got a feeling that some good snipers would make short work of the whole "tactic."

Sniper #1 takes out the optical
Sniper #2 takes out the operator

Both shots taken at the same time... Back to square one.

Or someone could capture one of those things. But who wants to feed a picky bitch like that?

Give me a good old Swedish Mauser and forget about it.

Mark Matis said...

Of course, if the Good Guys were able to get hold of some of these, it might make force-on-force more interesting in the upcoming civil war...

Wonder where they're shipped from/to.

Johnny said...

Will it actually work in the field? How long do the batteries last? Is it really, in practice, as effective as a very much cheaper RPG 7? (that I very much doubt).

It's hardly the great leap in weapons capability they're pretending. Troops fired rifle grenades from their Garands in WW2.

RPGs do appear to missing from American Militia forces armories... because the account of illicit manufacture in ``Absolved'' is entirely fictional, of course.

Anonymous said...

For every measure there is a counter-measure and that is especially true with electronic and computerized technology. Maybe one doesn't exist for this weapon yet, but it would be interesting to see what would make it malfunction. Maybe a $4.00 clearance rack laser pointer?

Hugo de Groot said...

Being older I know some guys who used the M-79 in 'nam and they never had an issue with placing their rounds behind a wall. One guy said something to the effect of "in a house you bounce it off the ceiling above and take care of the entire room."

Looks like technology (read faster bankruptcy ...) taking the place of personal skill -- and one that was easy to pick up.

Can't understand it though -- we got rid of the M-79 to make way for the M-203 so that the grenade guy was also carrying a rifle and now we have a dedicated guy carrying the ity bity grenade launcher again.

Pat H. said...

I'll get my hands on one pretty soon now.

We'll have to run the US Army out of South Carolina (Fort Jackson), they'll leave lots of those behind.

Anonymous said...

Its the drones that got me concerned. Not a grunt with a fancy gun.

The Trainer said...

We'd be better served taking the 35K per copy and investing it in LI training for our guys.

The original article provides the following EEFI (Essential Elements of Friendly Information) from the obviously proud PA officer:

1 - Weapon already in Afghanistan (thanks for confirming it for the rags, I'm sure they appreciate it!)
2 - Static defense can be more easily 'prepared' for assault (wall/cover busting capability) [presumeing the OPFOR stays put].
3 - Fuse/primer detonation variable by user (Quick or Super Quick (Mortar Terminology that fits)[why tell someone how you will try to kill them?]
4 - Effective Range: 766.66 meters (give or take). This will engender an interest in long range bolt guns with 10X or better optics to engage the XM25 gunners outside of the new system's range.
5 - Development Office is over-confident in technology (the only thing we can see our enemy doing is running away...) [Guys like this are great in the ring...very, very over confident.]
6 - Target must be 'lazed' to be engaged (that means that IR/NV equipment will be able to pick up the lazer which points both directions...kind of like a tracer).
7 - Target ID to Time On Target is 10 seconds maximum. (This means an OPFOR target can 'shoot and scoot' and be out of the EFR before the rounds are on target...most times.
8 - Effective Casualty Radius is 5 meters, same as a 40mm or hand thrown frag grenade. See 7. You can move 18 feet rather quickly.
9 - Explodes "above" the enemy indicates airburst capability.
10 - Military 'Salesman' entirely over-confident in technology.

All in all, the weight of this thing and its ammo is going to take another rifle ('scuse me...carbine off the line and take some heat off the SAW or pig gunner as the primary targets. It will cause an enemy to have an advantage on getting inside the OODA loop of our forces, because they will not stay still once this is employed. Further, the optics will cause the enemy to operate in darkness and inclement weather.

This thing is not going to be good news for our guys....thanks US Army PA for bragging so much and showing Hadji how to kill even more of our troops.

Anonymous said...

I suspect it will ride the shelves at plenty of Armories all over the States. To much potential for "collateral damage"

On the bright side if its so easy to use then we wont need special training when we pick one up on some future domestic battlefield.


Pericles said...

OK a 12 pound thing (plus rounds) to carry around in addition to a rifle.

How do we know there are only bad guys hiding behind cover?

Special purpose weapon with limited utility. Especially in a situation where you are trying to de-escalate the violence and protect the civil population.

Anonymous said...

Hm. I wonder if range data is sent to the round via a mechanical contact or an RF link. If RF, what prevents someone from hacking the protocol and fusing the rounds, say 1m beyond the barrel. Not very effective if it blows up in your face, eh.

Anonymous said...

Apparently range info is sent wirelessly. Looks like a detail that could be important.

Diesel said...

Everyone remember one of the reasons stated for the Marine Corps adopting the M-16 based Automatic Rifle again? So the guy carrying it looks a lot like the rest of the squad? This new weapon looks pretty distinctive to me. Be a shame if the poor sops carrying it were shot first at the beginning of any engagement.
Especially if said shot was taken from beyond 800m.

Defender said...

Something for the recruits who grew up playing "Halo."

I bet the chips in the grenades are made in China.

Anonymous said...

Can the XM25 be used to take out a drone?

Virtue said... is transferred wirelessly between the weapon and the projectile.



Wireless data transfers can be spoofed and HACKED.

Know US forces are going to be patrolling the area with this thing? Spam a hot signal for instant detonation so you can take out the weapon carrier and maybe more if friends are standing next to the carrier.

Anonymous said...

The XM-25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System.

Coming Soon to a Federal-Goon Agency near you!

Allen said...

how much you want to bet this thing has a "gun camera"?

and pics from those "gun cameras" will be used in trials AGAINST soldiers killing bad guys overseas?

the moment that happens, you won't get one guy who will pull the trigger on one of these things.

Allen said...

the "wireless transfer of data" to the grenade happens in the chamber. with a range of about 1/100th of an inch. and like almost all launched grenades there is a minimum distance for the fuse to set.

besides, it's a "spin-counter" fuse. you can't just send a signal and make them go off. you can tell them "explode in (X) revolutions" but if it's below the minimum it will ignore it...and once it gets chambered the new data will probably override it.

another question is if the fancy sight goes dead will the rounds impact-detonate? or if the batteries die is it a 12+lb boat anchor?

Anonymous said...

anon at 5:35 "Hm. I wonder if range data is sent to the round via a mechanical contact or an RF link. "

Information is sent while still in the chamber. A chip in the round controls the det time. Given a reliable velocity curve, the xm25's onboard computer can predict correct flight time over distance (x). Simple.

Anonymous said...


" is transferred wirelessly between the weapon and the projectile......Wireless data transfers can be spoofed and HACKED."

The rounds are programmed wirelessly alright, but its done with a laser a lot like a cd read/write laser --- But inside the chamber --- not during the flight.

Toastrider said...

Not to mention that I bet the wireless link is encrypted to boot. Wouldn't need much, either, with the relatively short 'arming' time.

But yeah, I see a neat new gun, but nothing to make an infantryman's overall life any better. Me, I've been pushing and hoping for powered armor for ten years :)

Rhodes said...

ATTN Mike !
While not a comment on this I was wondering if you have ever done any praxis on low light tactics and methods for the chronically under funded (no gen3 devices). We are kicking this around on the Saiga forum and its become apparent how much misinformation there is out there concerning this subject.

Thanks man we already owe ya.

Anonymous said...

"Its the drones that got me concerned. Not a grunt with a fancy gun."

Magnetic compass, inclinometer and laser rangefinder.

Add those to a GPS on the firer, and the thing doubles as a surveying instrument, with the potential to be able to determine the coordinates of the target for a proper artillery or air strike.

Laser rangefinders are a bundle of laughs if you try using them amongst foliage and undergrowth, or onto light absorbing surfaces (black, sooty, felt or velvet cloth) or onto angled reflective surfaces (like the stealth aircraft, the angled surface sends the reflected beam off away from the detector).

Depending on the wavelength of the laser, it could have some interesting problems penetrating different smokes vapours, mists and good old fashioned foil chaff.

Justin said...

Can't wait until the local cops and the ATF (as well as the IRS) gets issues these.

What was that program? STARRP?