The U.S. Army is upping its firepower in a big way with a weapon fit for Call of Duty.
After more than five years in development, the Army's first shoulder-fired 'smart' grenade launcher will run through its final round of weapons testing, Ars Technicareports. The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement, built by Orbital Sciences subsidiary Orbital ATK, is designed to detonate grenades at a specific time rather than on impact. That's right: timed grenades.
This 2013 promotional video from ATK captures this bad boy in action:
"The XM25 is a next-generation, semi-automatic weapon designed for effectiveness against enemies protected by walls, dug into foxholes or hidden in hard-to-reach places," according to Orbital's public specs. "The XM25 provides the soldier with a 300 percent to 500 percent increase in hit probability to defeat point, area and defilade targets out to 500 meters. The weapon features revolutionary high-explosive, airburst ammunition programmed by the weapon's target acquisition/fire control system (TA/FC)."
What that means in layman's terms: Not only can soldiers now set grenades to detonate over enemies behind cover ("anti-defilade") rather than on impact or at the end of a three-second fuse, but soldiers can rain down explosives on their enemies without exposing themselves to hostile fire. This thing isn't just smarter, but safer.
The XM25 has been at least five years in the making. Ars Technicanotes that the Army sent XM25 prototypes to Afghanistan to see how the thing actually performed under combat positions — and it got rave reviews. "[The] introduction of the XM25 is akin to other revolutionary systems such as the machine gun, the airplane, and the tank, all of which changed battlefield tactics," Lt. Colonel Chris Lehner said of the field tests, perArs. "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."
This is good news for soldiers, but what about us? I want one ... for science.
Photos by Orbital ATK