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The Military Technology

US Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' $35,000 Rifle 782

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-even-have-this-in-video-games dept.
rbrander writes "Don't call it a 'rifle,' call it the 'XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System' and get your $35,000 worth. Much more than a projector of high-speed lead, this device hurls small grenades that automatically detonate in mid-flight with 1-meter accuracy over nearly 800m. The vital field feature is the ability to explode 1m behind the wall you just lazed — the one with the enemy hiding behind it."
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US Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' $35,000 Rifle

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  • You always have to hope that an improvement like this actually does allow the soldiers to better target the real bad guys and not civilians as well as protect themselves from compromising situations. I'm not impressed with the distance the bullet can travel, it's my understanding that in Iraq and cities of Afghanistan, the battles are complex urban battles in buildings and areas that are high in civilian population and also human made nooks and crannies. It's not a question of being able to pick your assa
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The price sounds okay, an M16 can cost up to $28,000 and frankly I'd rather hit the taxpayers than cause more deaths.

      FYI, a non-transferable M16 (that is, not for regular-old-civilian purchase) costs something around $800-$1000, not the $28k you mention.

      • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:40PM (#34383932) Homepage Journal

        The price sounds okay, an M16 can cost up to $28,000 and frankly I'd rather hit the taxpayers than cause more deaths.

        FYI, a non-transferable M16 (that is, not for regular-old-civilian purchase) costs something around $800-$1000, not the $28k you mention.

        True that. Someone looked in shotgun news and assumed that there were no other factors pushing up the civilian price.

        Basically, look at the lowest price you can find on a reputable AR-15, then take 10-20% off of that to estimate what the government is paying.

        LK

        • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:45PM (#34383992) Journal

          Basically, look at the lowest price you can find on a reputable AR-15, then take 10-20% off of that to estimate what the government is paying.

          Sounds like you two know a hell of a lot more about pricing on assault rifles than I ever will.

          Basically, I treated it like everything else the government buys for me with my money: I googled it, found the highest price and then added about 100-200% for an estimate. Guess it doesn't transfer well to all military expenditures.

          • by bumptehjambox (886036) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:39AM (#34384480)

            Basically, I treated it like everything else the government buys for me with my money: I googled it, found the highest price and then added about 100-200% for an estimate. Guess it doesn't transfer well to all military expenditures.

            Your methods are quite sound, I work for a major company mostly (almost completely) fueled by the defense industry and I can say that I have no reason to believe our government gets any type of discount whatsoever, foreign governments do, but it's widely known that Uncle Sam doesn't mind paying MSRP.

            Basically, look at the lowest price you can find on a reputable AR-15, then take 10-20% off of that to estimate what the government is paying.

            Why? I'm not trying to be a smartass but why would the government get 10-20% off? I've never seen an instance where a government organisation got a "bulk discount"

            • It's been a while, but unless things have changed, if you sell any product to the government, according to the law you are required to charge the government no more than what you charged under the best discount to any other party for the same quantity and product. This affects the legal jargon involved in every commercial as well as government sale - if there is a special price to any other party (such as a contractor who is using the equipment to write software for the company) the sale must be constructe

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by RsG (809189)

              Why? I'm not trying to be a smartass but why would the government get 10-20% off? I've never seen an instance where a government organisation got a "bulk discount"

              What do you mean you've never seen a government bulk discount? Happens all the time. For any item where the number needed by the government is in the thousands or more, you can bet they're paying less per unit than you would be if you wanted to purchase just one of the same item from a store. It's no different than when big companies buy in bulk.

              Besides which, for certain firearms, the cost is driven up by the strong regulations in place. For anything fully automatic, the only option if you want to lega

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            In my basic military training, I used to work in a position with access to pricing lists (not US, though). I can tell that while most stuff was incredibly expensive, guns and rifles where actually pretty cheap. $800 for an assault rifle sounds pretty reasonable (without any extra accessories, of course).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by steveha (103154)

          The basic M16 is well under a thousand dollars. But a fully tricked-out M16, with a range-finding night vision scope mounted on it, costs a lot more than a basic M16! On the gripping hand, not many troops get the fully tricked-out version.

          I read some articles about the OICW, and I was dubious about the cost. Some OICW apologists argued that it wasn't really going to be that much more expensive than the M16, and they used the most expensive M16 numbers they could find. IIRC it was on the order of $10,000

          • Is it like the inkjet scam? $35,000 for the rifle then $200 for each bullet...?

      • by DaleSwanson (910098) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:18AM (#34384794)
        I was a supply Marine, I remember looking up the M-16 while in supply school. I remember it being just under $500. That is for the bare minimum basic M-16 A2, and was about six years ago.
    • by Allicorn (175921) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:35PM (#34383872) Homepage

      Rounds are going to be relatively expensive yes, but it's not as if you fire the thing full auto.

      How it changes the game in that enemies behind hard cover - who might otherwise engage you in a protracted firefight - will lose the benefit of that cover.

      It's in service now with the 101st airborne apparently, so I'm sure we'll shortly find out whether it's the exceptionally useful tool it appears to promise to be.

      • Slashdot is hardly the only news source with Slashvertisements - Fox is big on them as well, and the military-industrial complex just loves that kind of thing. And some high-tech weapons are actually effective, while some fail badly in real environments; back during Vietnam, US Army rifles would jam a lot, while AK47s that were dirt-cheap to make usually didn't, even though they weren't as accurate.

        • by Raul654 (453029) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:55PM (#34384088) Homepage

          That's true to some extent (especially where aircraft are concerned), but the rifle analogy is not quite correct.

          In Vietnam, American troops were armed with the recently-developed M-16, early versions of which frequently jammed. They jammed because the rifle was prototyped using ammunition packed with pellet-shaped nitrocellulose gunpowder (which worked fine in bad conditions), but mass-produced using stick-type nitrocellulose/nitrogylcerin gunpowder (which fouled the barrel if the weapon was not cleaned regularly). The lack of cleaning supplies and instructions for troops didn't help matters either.

          Once this design flaw was identified, the powder was changed, the barrel was lined with chrome, and troops were given instructions and tools to clean the weapons. Afterward, they became much more reliable in jungle conditions.

          • by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:45AM (#34384526) Homepage

            In Vietnam, American troops were armed with the recently-developed M-16, early versions of which frequently jammed. They jammed because the rifle was prototyped using ammunition packed with pellet-shaped nitrocellulose gunpowder (which worked fine in bad conditions), but mass-produced using stick-type nitrocellulose/nitrogylcerin gunpowder (which fouled the barrel if the weapon was not cleaned regularly). The lack of cleaning supplies and instructions for troops didn't help matters either.

            Once this design flaw was identified, the powder was changed, the barrel was lined with chrome, and troops were given instructions and tools to clean the weapons. Afterward, they became much more reliable in jungle conditions.

            This apology for the M-16 just misses the forest for the trees. The reason the M-16 is so sensitive to the type of gunpowder used is because it uses direct impingement [wikipedia.org] gas operation. Note that most other common military rifle families don't use this design. Why don't they? Because it's less reliable!

          • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:46AM (#34384536)

            If you study guns, you'll notice that the most reliable ones fire larger, heavier, rounds and themselves are larger and heavier. Good reasons for this:

            1) The tolerances don't have to be as tight. When things are large, there's more room for play. A bit of dirt doesn't matter nearly so much.

            2) More recoil force and/or gas. When there's more pushing back against the action, it cycles better. Also you can load up heavier springs, to push it back harder, again making it more reliable.

            That's what the M2 is still one of the most reliable guns out there. Shoots a big heavy round and is built with some room for error in it.

            Wonderful, but you have to consider carried weight. Troops have to slug a lot around, gun and ammo weight matters. While it might sound nice to say "Just give them bigger guns with bigger ammo!" that isn't necessarily so practical.

            Accuracy also comes in to play. Part of the AK's reliability comes form the action. If you've ever watched it in slow motion it positively slams shut, even flexing and vibrating a little. Well enough but at what cost? The cost is accuracy. It is not a good gun at range. "Spray and pray," are very much the operative words. The M4/M16, however, are much better. They aren't quite rifle accurate, but they aren't bad.

            It is a tradeoff, and it is easy to pull the "grass is greener" type thing, look at the other gun and say "Well clearly that is better!" However if you used that, well then you might have a different opinion.

            • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:57AM (#34384636) Journal

              The tolerances don't have to be as tight. When things are large, there's more room for play. A bit of dirt doesn't matter nearly so much.

              Larger caliber helps with that, but it's not a requirement. The caliber of AK-74 is smaller than that of M16, but the latter has looser tolerances, and is generally more reliable as a result.

              Part of the AK's reliability comes form the action. If you've ever watched it in slow motion it positively slams shut, even flexing and vibrating a little. Well enough but at what cost? The cost is accuracy. It is not a good gun at range. "Spray and pray," are very much the operative words.

              It's accurate enough at most realistic ranges of engagement, especially AK-74: you can reliably hit man-sized targets at 200-300m. E.g. Russian soldiers are most certainly not told to "spray and pray" at a distance, but rather drilled largely the same way as you see US troops with M16 - well-aimed single shots.

              This isn't to say that accuracy can't be better, or that this isn't useful. Most NATO weapons are more accurate than AKs. Thing is, most of them are also more reliable than M16, if not to AK standard - and that is largely due to looser tolerances (again, not as much as AK, but still), and overall different design (gas piston vs direct impingement).

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by GooberToo (74388)

                It's accurate enough at most realistic ranges of engagement, especially AK-74: you can reliably hit man-sized targets at 200-300m. E.g. Russian soldiers are most certainly not told to "spray and pray" at a distance, but rather drilled largely the same way as you see US troops with M16 - well-aimed single shots.

                The difference is, its really, really hard to hit a target beyond 300m to maybe 400m with an AK-74 whereas with an M-16, its still shooting true out to 600+ (550m) yards. In Vietnam, the weapons were extremely well matched because of the extremely short engagement ranges. Whereas, on a more traditional, non-urban battlefield, the upper hand easily goes to the M-16.

                As for reliability, assuming the US continues to stay with the M-16 (they are looking at options and have been for the last several years), expec

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  The difference is, its really, really hard to hit a target beyond 300m to maybe 400m with an AK-74 whereas with an M-16, its still shooting true out to 600+ (550m) yards.

                  That is true, but it is unclear how useful it is to give a weapon with such range to every single infantryman. You also need some decent optics to shoot at such distances accurately, while hitting a man at 200-300m is perfectly possible with iron sights.

                  In Russian army, and those modeled after it, the role of reaching out to those distances is delegated to what's called "designated marksmen" in US armed forces, armed with SVD.

                  Anyway, I'm quite certain that vanilla AK (neither AKM nor 74) is not the best gun

                  • by GooberToo (74388) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:26AM (#34385664)

                    That is true, but it is unclear how useful it is to give a weapon with such range to every single infantryman.

                    Its actually not questionable at all. Ask any infantryman who served before the M16 was issued. The M1 was accurate out to 1000 yards and was commonly used at those extended ranges in every war before Vietnam.

                    You also need some decent optics to shoot at such distances accurately, while hitting a man at 200-300m is perfectly possible with iron sights.

                    Actually, you don't. Its common for rifles to be issued with ladder sights which allow you to select your target's distance and it compensates in barrel rise. They also used a larger, more powerful bullet (.30-06/7.62), which made those distances even more practical than attempting to do so with a 5.56.

                    You need to keep in mind, most battle tactics include covering fire while you close the gap to more accurate ranges. If I can accurate engage you at 600-700 meters while you need to close to 300-400 meters to obtain the same accuracy, I have a huge advantage for 200-300 meters. That means I stand a good chance of completely stopping your force while receiving minimal causalities on my side.

                    In Russian army, and those modeled after it, the role of reaching out to those distances is delegated to what's called "designated marksmen" in US armed forces, armed with SVD.

                    Not really - but close. Their role is to provide suppression fire, allowing the rest of the squad to close the gap. Many mistakenly believe their role is that of a sniper. Its not. They are not trained as a sniper and their weapon comes nowhere near NATO sniper rifle specs (though with the right ammo you can certainly get 1 MOA accuracy with most rifles - SVDs anyways, out to around 600 meters). So which is more likely to move? A squad with an SVD/PSL in support or an entire squad with almost the same accuracy and a squad level weapon which typically meets or beats the SVD/PSL. Exactly.

                    That exact phrase and its variants often come up when discussing the reliability of AR platform. It's perfectly true, but also very misleading. As one of American troops who saw action in recent conflicts has put it, "It shoots very well when clean; but sometimes, it also needs to shoot when dirty, too". It's a good thing when your troops have enough time and no other worries to spend enough time on weapon maintenance, but war is war, and it's not always feasible. A front-line service rifle should be able to cope with that.

                    I was very careful to include that phraseology. ;) But, tactics have also been adapted to avoid extended, unsupported battles. I'm not saying the weapon never jams. I know it does. But, largely the worst case scenarios are avoided by a combination of mixed tactics; primarily including rapid deployment and extraction.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                      Its actually not questionable at all. Ask any infantryman who served before the M16 was issued. The M1 was accurate out to 1000 yards and was commonly used at those extended ranges in every war before Vietnam.

                      The whole reason why everyone eventually opted for smaller calibers (such as 7.62x39 or 5.56) post WW2 was because it turned out that the theoretical large range of large-caliber infantry rifles of the day was almost never really exercised. In particular, Russians found out that most engagements occurred at the ranges of up to 300m, which is why that is the effective range of aimed fire with a 7.62x39 AK.

                      This isn't to say that rifles were never used at greater ranges in WW2, it's just that said use was cert

                    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                      by GooberToo (74388)

                      The whole reason why everyone eventually opted for smaller calibers (such as 7.62x39 or 5.56) post WW2 was because it turned out that the theoretical large range of large-caliber infantry rifles of the day was almost never really exercised.

                      Different theaters of operation had different experiences. Remember, in the Pacific, they made do with the M1 Carbine, which was basically a .30 pistol round. In other places, 600-800 yards were common ranges. The biggest motivator was that they learned most people missed beyond 300-400 meters and as such, wasted a lot of heavy ammo. The solution was to create a smaller, lighter cartridge which allows for much more ammo to be carried and for its effective range to be more in line with what the typical soldi

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by NekSnappa (803141)

                    That is true, but it is unclear how useful it is to give a weapon with such range to every single infantryman. You also need some decent optics to shoot at such distances accurately, while hitting a man at 200-300m is perfectly possible with iron sights.

                    Standard annual Marine Corps rifle qualification requires 10 shots from the prone position at a man sized target from 500m with iron sights. I used to put 7-9 in the black every year. Even the less capable shots in the units I was in would put at least 50% o

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Once this design flaw was identified, the powder was changed, the barrel was lined with chrome, and troops were given instructions and tools to clean the weapons. Afterward, they became much more reliable in jungle conditions.

            Yep, except that they aren't being used in jungle conditions today - and guess what [murdoconline.net]?..

            Maybe, before they make more new shiny $25K toys for the infantry, they should take care of the basics first. The only countries using AR family of guns other than US are those which are able to purchase it from US for cheap or free. And no other infantry rifle in military use around the world uses direct impingement gas system.

    • by melikamp (631205)

      Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile

      People don't kill people. Bullets kill people. Or is it bullet programmers that kill people? This is only going to get more confusing, folks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sznupi (719324)

      ...hope that an improvement like this actually does allow the soldiers to better target the real bad guys and not civilians as well as protect themselves from compromising situations.

      You know, from the description it seems that this weapon is fabulous at killing people who are hiding behind cover when there's some shooting nearby, people which can't be seen clearly...

      Even is those will be enemy combatants often enough, that still doesn't preclude nearby civilians as you point out later.

      • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:40AM (#34384492) Journal

        What this weapon will replace is the need for many mortar fire missions by 81mm mortars (and possibly the squad or platoon 60mm mortar).

        Mortars are used when a very rapid response is required in order to combat ground units that are firing on relatively open friendly units from relatively defensible positions. I say again, a very rapid response. They always fire at a high trajectory so can be dropped behind walls and even an advancing mortar group can be on the target or at least adjusting on, within five minutes or less from the time the incoming fire mission request is received. If the mortars are already stationary (e.g. they are in a fire base), then they can be 'on' even faster... faster than artillery can get on target. I've heard quotes that mortars were the most dangerous weapon on the battle field in both Vietnam and WWII; accounting for more killed and wounded than other weapons.

        As to what you are worried about... collateral damage i.e. civilians. Mortars are fired from up to 5km away. Each tube has a 'beaten zone' where their bombs fall, shaped like a football. For an 81mm mortar, the beaten zone can be up to 100m long by 40 or 50 metres wide. Combine that with three other mortars in a mortar group and you have a wide area of damage (hence the term 'area suppression weapon'). Don't believe what you see in the movies... 81mm mortar HE has a kill radius of 40 metres. *kill* radius.

        So if a squad/section, platoon, company, or even one or two soldiers are under fire and need a fire mission to save their asses, they call for a fire mission (which will usually be mortars if they are in range). If they are in a built up area and there are civilians around, they are likely to be hit unless they are underground. If artillery receives the fire mission, the amount of damage they will cause is at least double.

        So now we have this infantry carried version of a shoulder fired light automatic mortar. To me, this is a better description of what it is. Since the target is directly sighted by the person firing, it is more likely that they will be able to hit the intended target quickly and more effectively. And since the blast area is smaller, collateral damage is for a certainly going to be far, far less than calling in fire missions from kilometres distant guns firing shells with explosive power orders of magnitude more powerful than those of this new weapon.

        So no, it doesn't preclude you from having civilian casualties. The only way to preclude this is to never have war. Being that we are humans, you can have high hopes of this, but this will only happen when Santa Claus delivers it. However, if I were a civilian close to the fighting, I would rather have these fired when one side is trying to suppress fire (or take out the enemy).

        As for the 60mm mortar, it almost certainly will be replaced by this in many armies, but I have heard, not all. I think it is not a direct replacement and getting rid of the 60 is a bad idea... something akin to removing the automatic cannon from the design of the F4 Phantom fighters; mainly because the prevailing rational that dog fights were a thing of the past since missiles would do it all. We now know that this is ridiculous, and they put the cannons back into the planes. i.e. I think the 60 could make a come back into armies that remove them thinking this is a direct replacement. Reason being is that this weapon likely won't provide as effective a solution when you want to drop some bombs behind a building or some other application that requires an extremely high elevation/trajectory. But this new weapon will be excellent to hit enemy behind the closest wall or other similar cover.

    • Sure, sometimes you can kill all your enemies without making far more of them in the process; that occasionally even works when two governments are fighting each other. But if people are fighting you because they're pissed off that you're invading their country and attacking their culture and you killed their cousin, killing them is just going to get more people with dead cousins pissed off at you.

      • by TheLink (130905)
        The Taliban in Afghanistan have it easier.

        When in doubt, kill the ones in US military uniforms. If nobody in target area is wearing a US military uniform, kill the white or black guys, and avoid killing the brown ones wearing shalwar kameez.

        Whereas the US troops just have to kill the wrong person and turns out the whole village is related to him/her, either by blood or by marriage. I think they've screwed up too many times already. And genocide is not a viable option for the USA.
    • by Sir_Sri (199544)

      Afghanistan and Iraq are, tactically, very different. In afghanistan you're regularly seeing engagement ranges (sniping basically) of ~2Km, Iraq that happens, but you're mostly seeing more 300m engagement range. The relatively close quarters stuff is happening in afghanistan too though. 800m seems like a good number, it's probably not all that hard to make one that does 800m or 300m effectively, but to do much more than that gets dicey, and it's about on par with the trusty ole m16. It's almost certainl

    • by gman003 (1693318)
      The XM25, if it's the same one that I've read about, only uses microchips in the grenades, not in the bullets. If you've played a modern-combat FPS, you know that you don't just spam the underslung grenade launcher, because you can't carry more than a handful of rounds for it. If it actually makes it into production (I highly doubt it, since the US military seems paralyzed when it comes to infantry weapons - just look how long it took to replace the M1911), it will be useful for urban combat, trench combat,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guyminuslife (1349809)

      "target the real bad guys and not civilians"

      That would be a pretty advanced AI, seeing as the distinction is quite blurry for humans, especially politicians, soldiers, and probably the "real bad guys" themselves.

    • You'd rather spend more money on weapons of death than cause more deaths....................... I see.
  • I've been using these for years to rape snipers and campers. One of the most versatile weapons in the game.

  • how much is the cost of the ammo?

    "Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile communicates exactly how far it has traveled"

    That doesn't sound cheap at all.

    • by RsG (809189) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:44PM (#34383976)

      OTOH, a majority of ammunition fired from automatic weapons in combat is used in suppressing fire. I've heard an official figure of tens of thousands of rounds fired per confirmed kill. Even if a single 5.56mm is cheap, ten thousand of them ain't.

      Suppressing fire, for those who don't want to go google it, is firing on the enemy's position to keep them "suppressed", i.e. scared shitless and behind cover. Or, put another way, if you can keep firing on them, they won't be able to return fire on you without sticking their heads out into a blizzard of incoming lead. An application of the principle that the best defence is a good offence. Most of those shots won't actually hit any enemy targets, because a sensible opponent will stay out of the line of fire for as long as the suppression is maintained.

      Obviously, this costs a ton and a half of ammunition, which adds up in cost, and raises the risk of hitting other targets downrange (like civilians or friendly soldiers). A weapon that allows you to eliminate an opponent in cover with a single (expensive) shot might actually be cheaper, and certainly would be more precise, reducing the risk of collateral damage.

    • by larry bagina (561269) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:45AM (#34384528) Journal

      how much is the cost of the ammo?

      "Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile communicates exactly how far it has traveled"

      That doesn't sound cheap at all.

      It costs four hundred thousand dollars to fire this weapon... for twelve seconds.

  • Defilade (Score:2, Informative)

    by MrQuacker (1938262)
    defilade |defld; defld| Military

    noun
    the protection of a position, vehicle, or troops against enemy observation or gunfire.

  • I remember the assault class in Battlefield 2142, having a rocket addon that essentially did the same thing. You scoped the cover your enemy was hiding behind to set the distance, and then add a meter or how far you need to it via the scroll wheel on the mouse, then launch the rockets which air burst at the set distance. Terrible devastating in game, I can imagine it's as or more effective in the real world.
  • I see that there's chips in the exploding projectiles. That's very awesome, that basically allows you to more or less fire into a specific area without needing full (or even partial) visibility of the target.

    Which raises my concern - shootin' off silicon explodey is awesome on paper and in Halo, but now we're talking deadly force on a target that we may not have completely identified. I can see where this helps our soldiers avoid being shot at, but I can also see where this decrease in need of visual confir

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:35PM (#34383886) Homepage Journal

    If they have zero chance against us on the battle field, they'll shift the focus of their attacks. Namely, more terrorist attacks. IEDs, roadside bombs and attacks on American civilians.

    LK

  • Seriously dudes... "gun".

  • They have spent so much on this weapon and yet their standard issue rifle is horrible compared to more modern (hell even three decades ago) weapons.

  • I wonder how many AK-47s one can buy for the price of one of these toys?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    so you're firing on a target you can't see...I'd bet money that in many cases the target won't even be properly identified...somebody will be fired upon...see somebody "gophering" at a window...and promptly kill an innocent family in a house...we'll hear about it from wikileaks in 2014...

  • by retchdog (1319261) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:53PM (#34384064) Journal

    Wouldn't this weapon be more useful against an occupying force, than for them? That is, wouldn't urban "insurgents" have more and faster access to mostly-enclosed structures, while the occupiers would tend more to ad-hoc cover?

    I suspect that we may regret introducing this, once it's copied and sold cheap by certain other nations which will go unnamed... Maybe it'll give us the advantage in a burned-out dust bowl like Afghanistan, but it would hurt us somewhere like Iraq.

    Please correct me, I'm just a cynical jerk, not a tactician.

  • OICW (Score:5, Informative)

    by steveha (103154) on Monday November 29, 2010 @11:54PM (#34384080) Homepage

    I'm not an expert on military stuff, but I have been interested in this and I have read articles about it over the years.

    This came out of research that started many years ago, the OICW [wikipedia.org] program.

    The original vision was that every soldier might get a fancy grenade launcher like this as his/her primary weapon. But you don't dare use a grenade if an enemy is at very close range (perhaps attacking with something as simple as a pointed stick), so the OICW was supposed to have a close-range, defensive capacity: a "kinetic energy" weapon, i.e., bullets. The result was a heavy, complex, expensive weapon that didn't make anyone happy.

    But I guess the research to produce the fancy grenade launcher paid off, and here is the result.

    I was always troubled by the 25mm projectile size. Can a 25mm projectile contain enough explosives to produce the desired effect when it air-bursts? I guess so, if they are deploying it.

    For general issue, it will continue to be the M16 family for the foreseeable future. I have read the occasional article about the military starting to wish it had a rifle of intermediate calibre between the 5.56mm of the M16 and the 7.62mm used before the M16. In desert engagements, ranges might be farther than the M16 can comfortably handle; in jungle terrain, foliage can sometimes deflect the 5.56 bullet. But nobody wants to try to generally issue the 7.62 mm again, as it has much more recoil than the 5.56, and it would be a pain to introduce some sort of new ammo.

    But now this new, fancy grenade launcher looks like it shall fill in the gap: it shoots a relatively massive projectile at up to 500 metres point effect, and up to 1000 meters area effect (source: Wikipedia). The ammo will be much more expensive than 5.56 ammo, and it will need batteries and special training besides; but if it really works as promised, it should be very cost-effective. (Even if you spent many dollars in ammo on attacking the enemy, if it decisively stops the attack from the enemy before he inflicts casualties, you have come out ahead.)

    As I said, I am no kind of expert and I welcome corrections if I said anything wrong here.

    steveha

  • Military unveils world's ugliest gun, which hopes to deter people from buying them.
  • wall explode around you.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGS-17 [wikipedia.org]
    With 30 rounds of linked ammunition Soviet-designed automatic grenade launcher has range of 1700 m.
    Not as sexy as the US version but wall, village and enemy combatants cannot hide.
  • by stomv (80392) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:00AM (#34384128) Homepage

    According to TFA, the US Army is going to shell out over $400,000,000 on these guns. Each shell (?) has a computer chip; they aren't pennies apiece.

    Meanwhile, we keep hearing about an overwhelming debt and how we'll need to cut social security benefits, cut energy R&D, cut mass transit investments, cut unemployment benefits. But we've got enough money to provide a tax cut for those making $250,000+, and we've got enough money for yet another BFG.

    I love my country despite it's terrible collective decision making skills.

  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:00AM (#34384134)
    We've been taking out enemies in cover with TOW missiles. They cost $180,000 each, and you need to fire two to make sure a building is clear. This weapon costs 1/5 the price of a SINGLE TOW missile, is reusable and man portable. This means no need for an attack helicopter ($3000 or more per HOUR to FLY) AT4 Rocket is $1500 each use, and causes too much damage in urban fighting. This is the field mortar evolved, and it will change combat forever.
  • by drumcat (1659893) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:03AM (#34384172)
    You're aware that Mr Gatling, a dentist by trade, designed the crank machine gun in the hope that it would end wars and killing... how'd that work out?
    • by vidnet (580068) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:05AM (#34386160) Homepage

      You're partially thinking of Dr. Josephus Requa, the dentist who invented an earlier model of the machine gun that never took off. Dr. Gatling (MD, but never practiced) was an inventor by profession.

      He's said he thought it'd end all wars, but isn't it just as likely that he built the Gatling gun out of the eternal engineering motivation: because he could? (and because it was cool?)

      The rationalization probably came later.

  • by Animal Farm Pig (1600047) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:05AM (#34384180)

    The cost of keeping men in theater is so great that if this (or any) weapon reduced the length of the conflict by 1%, it will likely have paid for itself. The real issue is whether the conflict can be solved by killing people.

    Likewise, the cost of recruiting, training, and maintaining a soldier is so large that if this weapon saves some lives and prevents some injuries, it will pay for itself.

    As far as how "revolutionary" the system is, well, I can't say for sure because I'm not using one. I'm guessing that this weapon will be issued to the guy in the team who would normally be carrying the M16/M4 with the M203 on it. The M203 is reasonably effective for firing on enemies behind cover. When I had the chance to fire one in Basic Training, I could very reliably put a round through a window out to about 100 meters. Landing a round a couple meters behind a berm or small wall was a bit more tricky but definitely doable. The sighting system on the XM25, the much flatter trajectory, and the air-burst feature should make these kinds of shots much much easier. It will also allow a soldier to shoot from the prone position, which isn't so easy with the M203. The important thing about this weapon is the range. Being about to put those grenade rounds out to 800 meters is a big advance over 150M with the M203.

    I haven't shot or handled one of these weapons, but I can imagine firing one. What I imagine is something similar to the feeling of firing a M2 or Mk19-- my feeling was 'Holy shit! There's nowhere to hide..." That's what I can imagine with this weapon.

  • by ebonum (830686) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:06AM (#34384198)

    The projectile is traveling say 1000 feet per second ( let's say that the target is 500m away starting behind a long stone wall ), then the projectile explodes. To kill someone it just passed, it will have to fire lots of large fragments backward and down ( or backward and sideways - if person is standing around the corner of a building ) at at least 1000-2000 feet / second to be lethal.

    The physics on this is tricky. To do this, you need to meet the "for every action, an opposite and equal reaction" law. This means something of equal mass will fly forward at ~ 3,000 ft/sec ( this is wasted material not being aimed at anything except unsuspecting persons in the distance ) . In the end, you are talking about a round with what? maybe 20 fragments ( to increase the odds of hitting something ) and each fragment will have to 1) fly fast enough to penetrate and ideally cause hydrostatic shock and 2) be heavy enough to do damage. If the rounds are too big and heavy, a single gunner will have trouble firing the weapon ( bruising on the shoulder ) and won't be able to carry many rounds because of the weight.

    For close range targets - 100m, the round is traveling at perhaps 2000 feet per second. Even if this thing blows up over someone's head, it seem most of the blast is going to continue forward, not towards the person behind the wall. Perhaps they hope the concussion wave will be strong enough to be lethal. A very high percentage of the metal fragments should blow forward due to the already high velocity of the round.

    Keep in mind, this round is spinning, so the blast will go in all directions. It is not possible to tell the bullet to fire downwards when over the target.

    note: a 22 cal bullet fires at bout 800-1200 feet per second. An M15, the standard round for the USMC, fires at about 2,700 to 3,500 feet per second and can have a range out to about 800 meters.

    • Look-- I can understand the questioning of the physics behind a round moving 2000 feet per second exploding and killing people below it. It sounds like a difficult problem to solve. I'm certain that you're not the first person to wonder about this.

      Still, this weapon has been in development for a long long time. Presumably, they've tested the ammunition at some point in the 10+ years that they've been developing it. During that testing, I'm sure they figured out how to make it kill things despite the physic

    • by lax-goalie (730970) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:21AM (#34384326)

      Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that they actually tested to see if it really works. Otherwise, and given that this thing is now in the field, there would already be a pissed-off bunch of Army riflemen complaining that it doesn't work. And in the age of bloggers, wikileaks, etc., we'd probably be hearing about it already.

      If I'm facing a squad armed with one of these, my bet is to not be on the other side of the wall.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sznupi (719324)

      Keep in mind, this round is spinning, so the blast will go in all directions. It is not possible to tell the bullet to fire downwards when over the target.

      Actually seems quite possible - if it spins fast enough (and it does count the spins very precisely already), the "window" of effective fire happening once per revolution might be enough. The hard part would be making a shaped charge with fragments on one side while carefully maintaining stability. But as a bonus it could be also more effective when firing sideways, behind a corner.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by careysub (976506)

      The projectile is traveling say 1000 feet per second ( let's say that the target is 500m away starting behind a long stone wall ), then the projectile explodes. To kill someone it just passed, it will have to fire lots of large fragments backward and down ( or backward and sideways - if person is standing around the corner of a building ) at at least 1000-2000 feet / second to be lethal.

      The physics on this is tricky. To do this, you need to meet the "for every action, an opposite and equal reaction" law. This means something of equal mass will fly forward at ~ 3,000 ft/sec ( this is wasted material not being aimed at anything except unsuspecting persons in the distance ) . In the end, you are talking about a round with what? maybe 20 fragments ( to increase the odds of hitting something ) and each fragment will have to 1) fly fast enough to penetrate and ideally cause hydrostatic shock and 2) be heavy enough to do damage....

      This thing is throwing a small anti-personnel grenade (similar to the kind people throw by hand, but smaller) and will be designed similarly.

      A modern anti-personnel grenade weighing 132 g (like the XM25) will have something like 30 g of high explosive, 70 g of fragments (a very high explosive/fragment ratio) and will propel them at 5000-6000 ft/sec, a kinetic energy per gram perhaps 10 times what a combat round has at range. The fragments themselves probably only weigh around 50 milligrams so over 1000 of t

  • Nice... (Score:5, Funny)

    by RevWaldo (1186281) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @12:40AM (#34384494)
    ...but it ain't no Zorg ZF-1 [youtube.com]

    .
  • by orphiuchus (1146483) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:15AM (#34384776)
    I know some of the guys who tested and rejected the SCAR, they said it was just too easy to break. I expect this to get to units who can afford it and be rejected as unreliable, or to be treated more like a mortar or heavy MG. I would be shocked to see this rifle get much use.
  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:17AM (#34384792) Homepage
    The grenades can be variable loads. That includes flechette ammo (a staple of sci-fi - which can be poisoned/drugged) and nonlethal (beanbags, taser shotgun rounds, or pepper spray gas grenades) as well as various types of explosives (including one designed to open doors without damaging those inside).

    To my mind, this capability is in fact far more important than the 'shoot behind walls' factor. Honestly, for $35,000 you can carry around something capable of blowing UP the wall and the people behind it.

  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:08AM (#34385154)

    Want to carry lots of heavy rounds and have high mobility in an urban setting? It's almost 2011, where is my fucking POWERED ARMOR!?

    Ok maybe they aren't as practical in the so called "real world" but the terrorists will be so shit scarred they'll give up immediately!

  • We have had... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JockTroll (996521) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:10AM (#34386180)
    ... Rifle grenades for a loooooong time and cover is still as important as ever. The important new features for the XM-25 are range (800m is double the range of a typical 40mm grenade launcher) and its airburst capability, sustained fire and relative ease of use. Using smaller grenades also means reduced damage, a desirable feature in CQB. However, there are and there will be countermeasures deployed: the device needs its laser rangefinder, so expect the use of particulate smoke to make ranging difficult. Like in all warfare conditions, the best defence is offence so if I expect my forces to go against XM-25 armed troops I'll have snipers deployed to take out soldiers carrying it - hopefully eliminating the weapon as well. It's a nice advantage to have but only the Nazi elite believed in miracle weapons to win the war, and watch where it has led them. Aggressive tactics and adaptability trump any technological wonder. The Russian campaign in WW2 should have taught us that, but I guess the iWar generation has taken over and will need some blood by the megagallon to understand it. I'd like to have one of those in my arsenal, but to believe one weapon will change the face of warfare is naive. Not even nukes did that.

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