After another year of testing and development, the US Army has finally decided to send its most high-tech weapons to Afghanistan. The first batch of "smart" XM-25 grenade launchers should have entered the battlefield 2 years ago, but the weapon was too innovative for all tests to go smoothly. Nevertheless, the first five grenade launchers were sent to Afghanistan and, if there are no problems with them, the American paratroopers will soon receive another 36 units of these weapons.
The revolutionary XM-25 grenade launcher has been in development since 1990 and first entered the military for testing five years ago. Last year, several units were sent "outside the US" for combat testing. There is information that the soldiers liked the new weapon, but some minor flaws were found, today, as expected, all of them have been eliminated, and the XM-25 is ready for adoption.
The XM-25 was originally a component of the XM-29 OICW weapon, which consisted of a 5, 56 mm submachine gun and a 20 mm grenade launcher paired with it. However, the OICW never went into production due to a number of weight problems and low stopping power. The latter was a key problem: 40mm grenades weigh 540 grams, while the original 20mm OICW projectile weighed half the weight. As a result, with a weight greater than the M-4 assault rifle with the 40-mm M-203 grenade launcher, the OICW had much lower destructive power.
In August 2003, it was decided to separate the machine gun and the grenade launcher. As a result, a 5, 56 mm XM-8 assault rifle and an XM-25 grenade launcher appeared. Moreover, the caliber of the latter was increased to 25 mm, which made it possible to increase the number of fragments by 50%, compared to the 20-mm OICW ammunition.
"Smart" 25mm grenades are equipped with a unique fuse, which is controlled by a computer. The XM-25 shooter can select one of four different firing modes using a dedicated switch. The main mode is an explosion in the air. Guidance occurs as follows: the soldier first finds the target with the help of a perfect 4x thermal imaging sighting system integrated into the weapon, then the laser rangefinder turns on and information about the range and permission to open fire appears in the eyepiece of the sight. The soldier needs to select a point near the enemy's position: from the side, from above, from behind and to press the trigger. When the grenades explode, they hit manpower within a radius of 6 meters.
The XM-25 is especially effective when shooting at moving targets hidden in buildings, trenches, and behind trees. At the same time, the probability of hitting the target from the first shot at distances of more than 500 meters is very high, which is very difficult to do with an under-barrel grenade launcher or machine gun.
Other modes of detonator operation: PD - detonation of a grenade when hitting a target, PDD - detonation with a delay. It is used when shooting through doors, glass or thin walls - the grenade is detonated after breaking through an obstacle. This mode can be used when firing at vehicles.
Window mode - detonation outside the aiming point. It is used for quick shooting at an enemy hidden in rooms, around a corner, in trenches. Its essence lies in fixing the sight at a certain point of shelter (corner of a building, window frame, parapet, etc.), after which a shot is fired and the grenade is detonated at a certain distance behind the aiming point.
Despite all efforts to lighten the weapon (titanium, composite materials are used in the design), the XM25 is still quite heavy: the grenade launcher weighs 5.5 kg, and one grenade weighs about 270 grams. On the other hand, this is a multifunctional weapon - cumulative ammunition already exists that can penetrate up to 50 mm of armor (the thickness of the frontal armor of the BTR-80 is only 10 mm). Also appeared 25-mm space-detonating grenades and ammunition equipped with sub-caliber shooters.
The question of price remains. The XM-25 is a very expensive weapon. The detachable magazine is equipped with four grenades costing an average of $ 35 each, a unique electronic sighting system costs $ 25 thousand. Perhaps this is the most expensive personal army weapon that has ever been produced, but in terms of combination of qualities it is also unique and the experience of its use in real combat operations can determine the further path of development of infantry weapons.