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Army Terminates XM25 Contract; Airburst Weapon's Future Uncertain

I found out on late Friday afternoon that the U.S. Army cancelled its XM25 25mm airburst weapon contract with Orbital ATK Inc.

Nicknamed "the Punisher" and designed by Orbital ATK and Heckler & Koch, XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System has long been the Army's attempt to field a "leap-ahead" weapon designed to give infantry units a decisive edge against enemies hiding behind cover.

I wrote a story about for Military.com, which ran on Saturday, that talks about how Army Weapons officials were reluctant to talk about XM25 when asked about it last week at the National Defense Industrial Association's Armaments Systems Forum.

Following a presentation from the Army's Project Manager Soldier Weapons, an audience member asked why the XM25 did not appear on any of the briefing slides covering the Army's near-term, mid-term and far-term small arms programs.

Col. Brian Stehle, head of Program Manager Soldier Weapons, said, "There is a requirement within the Army to have an air-burst, direct-fire capability within our formation. The Army is reassessing the actual requirement itself, and we are pursuing material solutions."

One of my sources told me XM25 had been cancelled. I asked the Army about it and was told that the service had terminated the contract with Orbital ATK on April 5 because "failed to deliver the 20 weapons as specified by the terms of the contract," an Army spokesman told Military.com in a May 5 email.

This is the same thing Orbital ATK accused Heckler & Koch of failing to do when it filed a lawsuit in early February against H&K, suing for damages of $27 million.

It's complicated, but I think it's clearer in my story.

It's still unclear if XM25 will survive this latest setback in the program or whether it will join its failed predecessor -- the XM29, also known as the Objective Individual Combat Weapon.

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