‘Men in Black’ Computerized Grenade Launcher Heads to Afghanistan
It looks like a piece of riot-control gear. It’s got a computerized in-board targeting system. It can kill someone from 2,300 feet away, while he takes cover. And it’s on its way to the Afghanistan war.
The XM-25 grenade launcher shoots a 25 mm high-explosive round that’s basically a “smart” grenade. What makes it smart? Sensors and microchips inside the round talks to the gun’s guidance system, known as the Target Acquisition Fire Control unit, to learn where and when to explode, minimizing the likelihood of collateral damage.
Need to take out an insurgent who’s popping out from behind a clay wall? Set the guidance for the distance to the wall and adjust a bit more for his body’s position and fire — actually using Plus and Minus buttons on the side of the gun. Watch the round release bursts of shrapnel right over him. You can’t do that with a regular mortar tube, even if you were able to shoot the mortar like a gun.
The Army’s said for a while that it would purchase over 12,000 of the guns starting in 2012. But the Soldier Systems blog reports today that the Army’s going to send a battalion’s worth — about 800 guns, then — to the 101st Airborne Division, serving now in Afghanistan’s rugged east. The XM-25 should arrive in November. The Army said earlier this year that it would send the XM-25 to Special Forces units in Afghanistan this summer.
We’ll see if the gun wins the kinds of plaudits from soldiers in Afghanistan that it got from reporters who saw it in action in May at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Army Times compared it to something out of Men In Black. Greg Grant wrote for Military.com that its “enormous firepower advantage is obvious.” Tech News Daily cited Afghanistan vets who called it a “game-changing weapon.”
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Monday, October 18, 2010
‘Men in Black’ Computerized Grenade Launcher Heads to Afghanistan | Danger Room | Wired.com