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Early next year, the US Army plans to begin testing a smart grenade launcher - officially called the XM25 Counter Defilade Engagement System - that can hit enemy targets even when they are shielded by cover.
Designed by Virginia-based rocket systems manufacturer Orbital ATK, the shoulder-fired XM25 has a built in ‘target acquisition and fire control system’ that the company says increases a soldier’s hit probability out to roughly 1600 feet by 300 to 500 percent.
The system allows any soldier with basic shooting skills to fire the rifle effectively, thanks to its laser rangefinder and smart software which determines the precise distance to a target. The soldier can add or subtract from that distance in order to clear obstacles, and the fire control computer gives the user a new aiming point to put the round on target, as well as setting the fusing of the grenade in the chamber. The shell is programmed to airburst above any enemies that may be behind cover, making it particularly useful when targeting any hostiles inside trenches.
In addition to the targeting and fire control system, the XM25 also features a 2 X thermal site with zoom, 2 X direct view optic, digital compass and environmental sensors.
In development since 2010, a handful of early prototype XM25s were used in Afghanistan to test their performance in live combat situations. PEO Soldier Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lehner, project manager for the system, said: “No longer will our Soldiers have to expose themselves by firing and maneuvering to eliminate an enemy behind cover. Our Soldiers can remain covered/protected and use their XM25 to neutralize an enemy in his covered position. This will significantly reduce the risk of U.S. casualties and change the way we fight.”
Orbital ATK claims the XM25 can accurately hit a ‘point target’ from 1,640 feet and hit targets with a mid-air explosion at roughly 2300 feet. The semi-automatic launcher – built by German weapons company Heckler & Koch – can carry five 25 millimeter shells per clip. In addition to the high-explosive airburst shells currently used in the weapon, its makers say they are also developing less-than-lethal, armor-piercing and door breaching rounds for the XM25.
Check out the video below to see the XM25 in action.