Monday, February 14, 2011

The XM-25 Grenade Launcher Proves Itself As A Major Game Changer

You might recall that last December I wrote an article about the premiere of XM-25,a new weapon that has the potential to change the entire nature of combat.

Guess what? It's more than lived up to its advance billing.

Since its first contact Dec. 3, the XM25 has been in nine engagements with two units at different locations, according to the Army Times. Units armed with it have disrupted two jihadi attacks on observation posts, taken out two PKM machine gun positions and destroyed four ambush sites.

In one engagement, an enemy machine gunner was “so badly wounded or so freaking scared that he dropped [his] weapon” and ran, said Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, Program Manager Individual Weapons.

Not only that, but the units carrying the XM-25 took no casualties in those nine engagements.

“No longer can the enemy shoot at American forces, then hide behind something,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller of Program Executive Office Soldier. “This is a revolutionary weapon. This is a game-changer.”

How does this bad boy work? Essentially, it's a hand held Smart Bomb.

In combat, cover is critical both for offense and defense. Aside from acting as a shield from enemy fire, it allows a warrior to make more effective use of fire power by taking better aimed shots.

The XM-25 turns that entire concept on its head. It incorporates a sophisticated laser range finder that allows a soldier to lock in a range and then dial in a + or - according to how much he wants the grenade to explode just before that distance or just after.

So if Mohammed and his jihad buddies are hiding behind a wall, one of our warriors armed with an XM-25 aims just past or just over the wall, locks in the range, programs the grenade to explode as it passes by and then fires.

The grenade detonates just as it passes the corner of the wall or flies over the top of it, turning Mohammed and his buddies into nice halal KIA stats.

Not only that, but XM-25 has an effective range of 2,300 feet,( almost half a mile, just over 7 1/2 football fields) far more than an AK47 or your typical assault rifle.In practical terms, that means you can ruin the enemy's whole day before you're even in range of their weapons.

It's no wonder those ambushes ended up as killing grounds for the jihadis.

The XM-25 is not only effective, it's light and portable at 12 pounds and 29 inches, and was designed by Minnesota's Alliant Techsystems to be easy to use.

There are only two major drawbacks to the X-25.

First, each one weighs in at a hefty $35,000 apiece. And that doesn't include the projectiles, which contain a computer chip to tell them when and where to explode.

And second, the units testing out the X-25 were so happy with it that the Army is reportedly having trouble getting the test units back!

please helps me write more gooder!


nazar said...

The price tag is probably why only the Army gets them, the Marines I was with (all infantry rifle squads) all use the M203 grenade launcher which has an effective range of only 350m. The closest thing I saw to the XM-25 is the MK 32, which carries 6 40 mm projectiles(they're like grenades, but you can shoot them, but I don't know the range.)

This is a pretty nifty little tool, but don't overrate it bro. During our firefights, we didn't even know where we were getting shot at most of the time, and we did not see the taliban the majority of the time either. We'd just shoot back where we thought it was coming from, and tried to maneouver on them. Also, I have a hard time believing most Marines would sit there painstakingly adujsting distance because in a firefight, shit happens fast, and like I said, the emphasis is on manouevering on the enemy to close with them so we can kill them. That's just the way my squad did it, but I do know of some squads that would just sit behind cover and wait for the taliban to come to them, so it really depends on the nature of the leadership. Maybe the XM-25 would work out better for those squads.

Anyways, I just want to caution you against over-emphasizing new weapons as the next great hope against a counterinsurgency because from my experience in Helmand Province last year, the best weapon is good intelligence. That's how we found the majority of IEDs and how we rounded up the majority of Taliban fighters. Besides, basis marine corps infantry tactics of fire superiority and manouver work great during direct action engagements anyways.


Freedom Fighter said...

Hey Nazar,
Really nice to have you back, bro.

The cool thing about this toy is that it severely the value of cover for the jihadis.

Scuttlebutt I hear is that its also dead easy to use..locking in range is automatic and telling the projectile where you want it to pop only takes a few seconds longer than chambering, aiming and firing off a live round.

Couldn't agree more about intel, but if you know where an ambush is set up the X-25 can certainly wreck it good, before our warriors are even in range.

It won't eliminate the Taliban, but it will make it a lot harder for them to operate, especially on offense. They'll have to concentrate more on IED's..and as you note, we're getting a lot better at dealing with IED's.

nazar said...

I just want to point out that just as we are getting better at finding IEDs, the taliban are getting better at them-I'll give you an example: My first time in afghanistan, we used minesweepers to find a lot of them, and those things were money, they saved a lot of lives, but even so, my squad was the only one in the whole company to never get hit by an IED attack. The second time I was in helmand in december and january, the taliban found a way to make their IEDs so that they register a very low metallic hit, and the minesweepers were worthless, we never used them, and we got hit twice. The taliban is constantly evolving and adapting, and just for the record, I'd rather get into a firefight any day than be in an IED attack, that shit sucks.
Not trying to be a negative nancy or anything, but the thought of the taliban focusing even more heavily on IEDs is not a favorable proposition. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the XM-25 is being introduced, but I think we should focus much more on intelligence gathering. You know, when most people think of supporting arms, they think of artillery, air support, and so forth, but too often overlooked are the human exploitation teams, the psyop guys, and so on. When I was coming back from helmand, I talked to some of them and asked them what they do, and they told me they just sit around camp leatherneck and don't really go out the wire much. That's a waste of resources, those are the kind of people that can really turn things around. Instead, grunts are tasked out to their job, and they can do it, but it just takes longer and more people die in the process. Anyways, that's my two cents, I hate to sound like I'm preaching or whatever, keep up the awesome writing, I'll try to drop in more often!

Freedom Fighter said...

Your two cents are always worth a lot, Bro.

I agree, I can't imagine why they have those sort of guys just sitting around.

Me, I think one of the keys to getting Afghanistan under control is doing what the Brits did - make deals with the local tribal chiefs, forget about Karzai and stop treating it like it's Belgium.


nazar said...

Hey man, I disagree about your comments about the Brits-not trying to say that I know everything they did, but my personal perception of them isn't very high. Their AO was Sangin district in helmand province, which they had from 2006 to 2010, until the marines came in to relieve them. Basically, they stopped patrolling around the area because they got so messed up by the taliban, they just ran local security patrols, so that's why marines are there, to do a job they couldn't do. The marines i've been with do counter-insurgency by the book-which is clearing an area, and holding it by aggressively pursuing the enemy as well as partnering with civilians- and it works, although not all marine battalions do this. So maybe my viewpoint is biased because of my experiences, but the brits method of live and let live is a lazy strategy and should not be emulated.

Freedom Fighter said...

Nazar, I'm talking about in the 19th century, not today.They kept Afghanistan quiet for almost a century.

As for the Brits today, same thing happened in Iraq, in Basra. They basically hunkered down and did nothing until our guys got tired of it and took over.

As far as I'm concerned, the key to Afghanistan is dealing with Pashtunwalli and the existing tribal structure, which also means dealing with the opium.

Curious to know what you think of this, especially the last half about strategy, our buying the opium, arming the tribal chiefs and warlords so they can safeguard their new profits and not pay taxes to the Taliban and even embedding small groups of our warriors with them.

There's a link there to a paper by Major Jim Gant, who did exactly that with no small degree of success.


Rosey said...

I saw a similar unit on one of those Discovery Channel shows. I believe it held 6 rounds, but was lower tech. I think arms like this are a morale booster because 1) they up our game, and 2) they are made in the USA by US companies. At a time when our manufacturing base has declined along with the economy as a whole, it's nice to know we still make high value added, expensive, high tech equipment. It makes me believe that perhaps our best days are not behind us. I just hope we don't go selling these things to our "allies" around the world like Egypt and Turkey.

Don Cox said...

The trouble with the British forces, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that they get very little support from the UK government. They are under-equipped and under-funded.

Freedom Fighter said...

Very true Don. As I chronicled in these pages, the British commander voiced shame ( his words) that the Americans and Iraqi forces were doing the job in Basra that the Brits were supposed to have done.

Tony Blair pulled as many UK troops out of Iraq as he could and ordered the rest to bunker up by the airport, and Gordon Brown continued that process.

Scandals over lack of equipment are fairly common knowledge in the UK, which is why wounded combat troops in AfPak snubbed Gordon Brown when he came to visit them.

Blair and Brown also essentially scuttled the Royal Navy.

Whatever Labour spent all that money on,it wasn't national defense.