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Peering into Army's Swelling Budget for XM25


Full disclosure: This post was entirely spurred by the redactions in the Pentagon Inspector General's recent report on the costs associated with the Army's XM25 airburst weapon.

My colleague Matthew Cox wrote a story about the document and I wrote a column about the questionable excisions over on our sister blog Kit Up.

The goal of this piece is to simply try to quantify how much funding the Army has earmarked for the XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System, more commonly known as The Punisher. The semi-automatic, shoulder-fired weapon fires 25mm high-explosive, air-bursting ammunition and was designed by Orbital ATK Inc. and Heckler & Koch.

According to the IG, Army is still wrangling with questions over whether to buy and how to field the weapon to infantry units. According to budget documents, the service plans to request more funding for it -- to the tune of as much as a quarter-billion dollars over the next five years.


In short, the Army has spent at least $33 million on the program and related efforts in the two-year period through fiscal 2016, which ends Oct. 1, the documents show. Going forward, it expects to spend at least another $132 million on the program in the five-year period from fiscal 2017 through fiscal 2021, they show.

It's important to note these figures encompass more than just procurement dollars because the Army includes funding for the XM25 across multiple budget lines -- four, actually, and three of those are for research, development, test and evaluation. However, the figures above exclude the RDT&E funding related to insensitive munitions advanced technology and test range and facilities because they're such broad, all-encompassing categories.

The Army in December 2014 awarded a $33 million modification to a previously awarded contract to Orbital ATK's unit in Plymouth, Minnesota, for a two-year extension to the program, according to a Pentagon contract announcement.

While the announcement doesn't specify a quantity of weapons purchased or a unit cost, the Pentagon procurement documents do: $93,000 per unit for a total of 105 weapons in fiscal 2017. That's more than double a previous figure of $41,000 per unit.

UPDATE: I received a call from a defense official who argued the cost figures should exclude the budget line for insensitive munitions advanced technology. While the line clearly states funding to "improve the sensitivity of the XM-25 medium caliber warhead that can transition to other 30mm and 40mm rounds," how much isn't clear and so I agreed the initial figures may have been inflated. I have revised the chart and figures, accordingly.

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