Thursday, June 19, 2014

June 19 2014: Infantry combat: How do you kill an enemy who is within rifle range, out of hand-grenade range, but not within your line-of-sight? And, you have no mortars, artillery on call, or air support.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower


Do you wake up and obsess about such issues? Probably not. However, if you were patrolling in Iraq or Afghanistan (pick your trouble-spot) it would be a matter of some concern.

Hostiles, when not blowing you up or shooting at you, like to take cover—to duck down behind walls, rocks, and anything which will hide them, and, ideally, stop a bullet as well—and, over time, become very good at it. This is Darwinianism in action—on the job training. The lesser competent get killed relatively quickly.

For something like 20 years—a truly ridiculous amount of time (and a disgrace given the manifest need) the Army have had a solution in development. This is the XM25, a 14lb boxy sort of weapon, which “features a target acquisition system that calculates the target range with a push of a button, and transfers the data to the electronic fuse built into the 25mm round. When fired, the projectile is designed to explode directly above targets out to 600 meters, peppering enemy fighters with shrapnel.”

The cost for the XM25 and the rounds it fires is expensive today, because the weapons and ammunition are being manufactured by hand. But with development of automated production facilities, the Army say the price is expected to come down to about $35,000 for the weapon and fire control system, and about $55 per round.

By all accounts, the XM25 is effective, but the Rangers, in particular, have been severely critical of it.

After an initial assessment, Ranger units found the XM25 too heavy and cumbersome for the battlefield. They were also concerned that the limited basic load of 25mm rounds was not enough to justify taking an M4A1 carbine out of the mission, sources say.

XM25 is an offshoot of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program the Army began in the mid-1990s to increase firepower effectiveness. It was then known as the XM29 — an over-and-under system with a 5.56mm carbine on the bottom and the 20mm airburst weapon on top. The OICW program stalled in the face of technical challenges that made the 18-pound weapon too heavy and bulky. The program ended up costing about $100 million.

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