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 FoxNews.com 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 High-explosive airbursting.
* 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."