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Thread: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

  1. #1
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    Default US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    by Michael Mathes Michael Mathes Wed Dec 1, 2:09 am ET

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – It looks and acts like something best left in the hands of Sylvester Stallone's "Rambo," but this latest dream weapon is real -- and the US Army sees it becoming the Taliban's worst nightmare.

    The Pentagon has rolled out prototypes of its first-ever programmable "smart" grenade launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon that uses microchipped ammunition to target and kill the enemy, even when the enemy is hidden behind walls or other cover.

    After years of development, the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, about the size of a regular rifle, has now been deployed to US units on the battlefields of Afghanistan, where the Army expects it to be a "game-changer" in its counterinsurgency operations.

    "For well over a week, it's been actively on patrols, and in various combat outposts in areas that are hot," said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lehner, program manager for the XM25.

    The gun's stats are formidable: it fires 25mm air-bursting shells up to 2,300 feet (700 meters), well past the range of most rifles used by today's soldiers, and programs them to explode at a precise distance, allowing troops to neutralize insurgents hiding behind walls, rocks or trenches or inside buildings.

    "This is the first time we're putting smart technology into the hands of the individual soldier," Lehner told AFP in a telephone interview.

    "It's giving them the edge," he said, in the harsh Afghan landscape where Islamist extremists have vexed US troops using centuries-old techniques of popping up from behind cover to engage.

    "You get behind something when someone is shooting at you, and that sort of cover has protected people for thousands of years," Lehner said.

    "Now we're taking that away from the enemy forever."

    PEO Soldier says studies show the XM25 is 300 percent more effective than current weapons at the squad level.

    The revolutionary advance involves an array of sights, sensors and lasers that reads the distance to the target, assesses elements such as air pressure, temperature, and ballistics and then sends that data to the microchip embedded in the XM25 shell before it is launched.

    Previous grenade launchers needed to arc their shells over cover and land near the target to be effective.

    "It takes out a lot of the variables that soldiers have to contemplate and even guess at," Lehner said.

    If, for example, an enemy combatant pops up from behind a wall to fire at US troops and then ducks behind it, an XM25 gunner can aim the laser range finder at the top of the wall, then program the shell to detonate one meter beyond it, showering lethal fragmentation where the insurgent is seeking cover.

    Use of the XM25 can slash civilian deaths and damage, the Army argues, because its pinpointed firepower offers far less risk than larger mortars or air strikes.

    The result, the Army says, is "very limited collateral damage."

    The Pentagon plans to purchase at least 12,500 of the guns -- at a price tag of 25,000 to 30,000 dollars each -- beginning next year, enough for one in each Infantry squad and Special Forces team.

    Lehner said the XM25 was special in that it requires comparatively little training, because the high-powered technology does so much of the work.

    "This system is turning soldiers with average shooting skills into those with phenomenal shooting skills," he said.

    Yahoo.com
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    Last edited by Nickdfresh; 12-01-2010 at 10:50 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    I like it!! Wonder how much the ammo costs,,,, There was a 20 mm munition being developed a few years back, programmable to initiate at whatever distance was desired, that was grand enough, but I like this better. Now they need a Fletchette round for open ground situations.

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Defintely a 'game changer'. This will give the Americans a bit of a leg up, especially when fighting in and around the compounds in Afghanistan. Often the surprisingly tough mud brick walls often encountered in Afghanistan have provided the insurgents/taliban/anti-coalition militia with good solid cover from small arms and MG (inc .50 cal) fire, hopefully with the XM25's ability to chuck rounds over their heads and use airburst this should negate that.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Very nice, but in time others will come up with an equivalent and it'll neutralise the current advantage.

    One unintended consequence may be that insurgents will target squads or locations to try to capture the weapon and munitions to use and or to copy.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Reminds me of a mix of the ACR and the F2000 from Modern Warfare 2.

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    Very nice, but in time others will come up with an equivalent and it'll neutralise the current advantage.

    One unintended consequence may be that insurgents will target squads or locations to try to capture the weapon and munitions to use and or to copy.
    I would imagine the yanks aren't daft and will carry plenty of PE & Det to destroy any sensitive equipment should they think they're about to be overrun or they need to ditch it. Personally, whilst I think it'll be a game changer I'll be waiting for the first reports from the field before making any value judgement.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    I would imagine the yanks aren't daft
    That's certainly a stretch of the imagination, given their determination to get themselves embroiled in no-win situations from Vietnam onwards.

    However, at the military level, I'm just finishing Running the War in Iraq http://www.anu.edu.au/discoveranu/co...e_war_in_iraq/ by Jim Molan, an Australian major general who was Chief of Operations for the Coalition in 2004-5. As an outsider from a country which is not traditionally inclined to praise the Yanks unless it's very well deserved, his high respect for the expertise, proficiency, professionalism and courage of the American military at all levels, including their National Guard reserves, and for their achievements in Iraq balances the negative and superficial stuff normally reported by the news media. His book also gives an insight into what a difficult war it was to fight, entirely different to Vietnam in most respects in the field even if it was a counterinsurgency war.

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    and will carry plenty of PE & Det to destroy any sensitive equipment should they think they're about to be overrun or they need to ditch it.
    That's going back to a bombardier's last act being to destroy a Norden bombsight in WWII.

    Sooner or later somebody won't be able to disable the equipment and it will fall into enemy hands.


    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    Personally, whilst I think it'll be a game changer I'll be waiting for the first reports from the field before making any value judgement.
    When both sides on any future battlefield have this type of weapon and its evolutions, it'll be more than a game changer. It's the biggest thing since the machine gun as far as the infantry is concerned.

    The elements of infantry tactics are cover, fire and movement. Take cover out of it and there's going to be an awful lot of fire and movement, on both sides, and a lot more casualties than in the past.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    That's certainly a stretch of the imagination, given their determination to get themselves embroiled in no-win situations from Vietnam onwards.

    However, at the military level, I'm just finishing Running the War in Iraq http://www.anu.edu.au/discoveranu/co...e_war_in_iraq/ by Jim Molan, an Australian major general who was Chief of Operations for the Coalition in 2004-5. As an outsider from a country which is not traditionally inclined to praise the Yanks unless it's very well deserved, his high respect for the expertise, proficiency, professionalism and courage of the American military at all levels, including their National Guard reserves, and for their achievements in Iraq balances the negative and superficial stuff normally reported by the news media. His book also gives an insight into what a difficult war it was to fight, entirely different to Vietnam in most respects in the field even if it was a counterinsurgency war.

    I did some training with some Americans last year, drawn from different units all over the states and what was fascinating was that, despite the fact they'd never met before, we're able to work together during an attack using exactly the same drills. The yanks, militarily have really got it together in the last few years.


    That's going back to a bombardier's last act being to destroy a Norden bombsight in WWII.

    Sooner or later somebody won't be able to disable the equipment and it will fall into enemy hands.

    Well little has been taken by the insurgents so far, they've yet to capture anything significant and bearing in mind the amount of air assets the yanks can call in I don't see it happening anytime soon.


    When both sides on any future battlefield have this type of weapon and its evolutions, it'll be more than a game changer. It's the biggest thing since the machine gun as far as the infantry is concerned.

    The elements of infantry tactics are cover, fire and movement. Take cover out of it and there's going to be an awful lot of fire and movement, on both sides, and a lot more casualties than in the past.
    I'm not sure it's as significant as the machine gun. The capability to fire over cover already exist with UGLs and mortars, this is, however is a lot more accurate. Plus as already mentioned air power already negates a lot of cover. I still think it's an important step forward in infantry weapons I just don't think it's a world changer. Remember it uses an electronic chip and that can be defeated by ECM and jammers.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    I'm not sure it's as significant as the machine gun. The capability to fire over cover already exist with UGLs and mortars, this is, however is a lot more accurate. Plus as already mentioned air power already negates a lot of cover. I still think it's an important step forward in infantry weapons I just don't think it's a world changer.
    I think the significance is that it doesn't rely on plunging fire like a mortar or any other weapon which is intended to kill troops behind cover, and which in practice often are ranging weapons reliant upon the skill and experience of the operators which is not quickly acquired.

    The ability to program it to explode a metre or whatever beyond the laser determined range to the face of cover allows a fairly inexperienced and unskilled single operator to achieve with a single round from a handheld weapon what a two man mortar team with a heavier tube, base plate and munitions might not achieve with several rounds.

    The firer is also able to move immediately after firing to avoid return fire and to fire accurately soon after from a new position, and to repeat that process, unlike any gun crew.

    It renders redundant the pages of my old infantry pam on cover from sight, a single brick wall, and cover from fire, a double brick wall. With this weapon, whether I'm behind a single or double brick wall, or behind something substantially thicker which might be cover from artillery landing in front of me, I no longer have cover from squad fire.

    It also allows a much quicker and more accurate response than any type of gun or attempts to lob a launched grenade into a position by estimated trajectory.

    I agree with what you say about air power, but air power isn't carried at squad level; isn't always available; doesn't fly in bad weather; and doesn't always arrive in time. Also, air power is hard to direct on small targets in close and or featureless country, but this weapon gives the grunt on the ground the ability to reach behind enemy cover on such targets.

    All of this assumes, as you correctly retain scepticism about, that it works as well in the field as the article claims.

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    Remember it uses an electronic chip and that can be defeated by ECM and jammers.
    That's a technical question I don't know enough about to comment on.

    But even if ECM can work on it, I'm confident that the average insurgent in Afghanistan ain't gonna have the necessary for a while, unless there's already an iPhone app for it.
    ..
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    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    I think the significance is that it doesn't rely on plunging fire like a mortar or any other weapon which is intended to kill troops behind cover, and which in practice often are ranging weapons reliant upon the skill and experience of the operators which is not quickly acquired.

    The ability to program it to explode a metre or whatever beyond the laser determined range to the face of cover allows a fairly inexperienced and unskilled single operator to achieve with a single round from a handheld weapon what a two man mortar team with a heavier tube, base plate and munitions might not achieve with several rounds.

    The firer is also able to move immediately after firing to avoid return fire and to fire accurately soon after from a new position, and to repeat that process, unlike any gun crew.

    It renders redundant the pages of my old infantry pam on cover from sight, a single brick wall, and cover from fire, a double brick wall. With this weapon, whether I'm behind a single or double brick wall, or behind something substantially thicker which might be cover from artillery landing in front of me, I no longer have cover from squad fire.

    It also allows a much quicker and more accurate response than any type of gun or attempts to lob a launched grenade into a position by estimated trajectory.

    I agree with what you say about air power, but air power isn't carried at squad level; isn't always available; doesn't fly in bad weather; and doesn't always arrive in time. Also, air power is hard to direct on small targets in close and or featureless country, but this weapon gives the grunt on the ground the ability to reach behind enemy cover on such targets.

    All of this assumes, as you correctly retain scepticism about, that it works as well in the field as the article claims.



    That's a technical question I don't know enough about to comment on.

    But even if ECM can work on it, I'm confident that the average insurgent in Afghanistan ain't gonna have the necessary for a while, unless there's already an iPhone app for it.
    You mean you haven't heard of iJihadi?
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    ECM & Jammers aren't particulary hard to make, decent ones are however. If we forget about the average insurgent in the middle-east & afghanistan for a moment, some forces we may potentially end up fighting are sophisticated to have decent jammers. Furthermore, history teaches us that for everything we design something is designed to counter it. As said i'm reserving judgement until the first combat reports come back.
    "There is no country on the face of the earth to which the principle of citizen-soldiership is so well adapted as our own, for the freedom possessed by Britons is of so general and real a character as to cause the humblest in the land to feel deeply the neccessity of preserving the safety and independence of the nation of which he is a part"

    The Volunteer's book of facts 1863

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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    Furthermore, history teaches us that for everything we design something is designed to counter it.
    Definitely.

    My immediate response to this new weapon was that, if it works, it's a re-run of the introduction and development of the machine gun and the tank.

    The originator has an advantage until the opponent develops a countermeasure, which usually is the same weapon at the same or a better standard, at least in the early phases.

    So we go from the advantage for tank-supported infantry to tank v. tank to tank destroyer v. tank, and then air v. tank which pretty much stuffs the tanks if you have enough air power and the enemy doesn't have the ground to air or air to air power to stop your air power. And so on.
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    Default Re: US deploys 'game-changer' weapon to Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by student-scaley View Post
    You mean you haven't heard of iJihadi?
    I've heard of it, but my understanding was that the app had been abandoned as it keeps blowing the host iPhone up.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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