My colleague Greg Grant who edits Defense Tech had a chance to head out to Aberdeen Test Center, Md., to shoot some of the Army's top weaponry yesterday.
He broke the news that the Army is set to deploy the XM-25 Individual Airburst Weapon to a unit from the Special Forceswho will take it with them to Afghanistan "this summer." This marks the first real-world use of the Starship Troopers-esque gun that fires a "smart" 25mm round which can explode in a pre-programmed proximity to a target.
There has been a lot of skepticism in the past over wiz-bang systems like this, but while heavy and a bit tech-dependant for its sighting and fire control system (I mean, do you need a WSO for this one?) it's one of the few really Buck Rogers weapons that garners enthusiasm among the rank and file Joes.
Greg and I examined the excellent research paper written by Maj. Thomas Ehrhart on the "Infantry Half-Kilometer" and one of our takeaways was the infantry platoon's lack of organic direct fire weaponry that can reach out to the standoff ranges insurgents are attacking from. Greg and I chatted about this story before he posted it to Military.com and he likened the XM-25 to a modernized RPG.
Back when we spoke with Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway, we mentioned this gap and he said that from his perspective the XM-25 has great promise. Seems this is really a weapon Grunts could appreciate.
When the snake eaters put the system through its paces in Afghanistan, we'll truly see the effectiveness of the weapon and its durability. But in the end, it will surely be useful for Joes -- and anyone else in the U.S. military -- to have this precision, direct fire weapon that can eliminate threats from 700 meters.