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Army Spends Big on Smart Grenade Rifle

XM25 Airburst  

The Army is moving ahead smartly with its XM25 shoulderfired, semi-automatic 25mm grenade launcher with plans to spend $34 million onfurther development in 2011 and a production start slated for 2012, accordingto service budget documents. The Army plans to buy at least 12,500 of theweapons beginning in 2012, enough to put one in each infantry squad and specialforces team, according to PEO Soldier.

The futuristic looking XM25 fires a "smart" High ExplosiveAirburst round out to around 600 meters. The smart round is a "counterdefilade" round, designed to blast enemy infantry taking cover behind walls,cars, in trenches as well as enemy fighters dumb enough to be standing out inthe open. The Army calls the weapon a "leap ahead" technology.

 The XM25 uses a laser rangefinder to target the enemy, thenthe weapon's micro-computer accounts for air pressure, temperature and the 25mmround's ballistics, feeds that information to a microchip in the round itselfprogramming it to detonate directly over the target. With a 600 meter effectiverange, it would provide small teams greatly enhanced lethality well beyond thatof rifles and machine guns. The Army claims that tests showed the XM25 with thehigh-explosive round is 300 percent more lethal than current squad levelweapons.

The XM25 could prove enormously useful to troops in Afghanistanbattling Taliban insurgents that typically fire from the cover of tree linesand from behind mud walls. This is the first weapon, at least that I have seen,that could provide infantry with a lethal, accurate and effective grenadelauncher that exceeds that of the ubiquitous RPGs carried by insurgent groupsaround the world. 

One potential weakness I've noticed is that the XM25 only has a four round magazine. The Army believes the weapon's lethality will come from its pinpoint accuracy rather than rate of fire. 

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