Wednesday, April 21, 2010

XM25 grenade launcher / air bursting assault weapon (USA)

Picture 1: XM25 grenade launcher prototype (possibly mock-up)

Picture 2: another XM25 grenade launcher mock-up

Picture 3: XM25 mock-up demonstrator

Picture 4: 25mm ammunition for XM25: left TP (practice), right HEAB (air bursting) 

Caliber: 25mm
Type: semiautomatic, magazine fed 
Overall length: n/a
Weight: less than 5.45 kg (12 lbs) unloaded
Effective range: up to 500 m against point targets, up to 700 m against area targets
Magazine capacity: 6 rounds

The XM25 is being developed by the ATK corporation of USA, with the help of the famous German arms manufacturer Heckler und Koch. The XM25 semiautomatic grenade launcher (air bursting assault weapon in the manufacturer's terms) is a direct result of the American XM29 OICW program, which has been suspended in 2004 due to impossibility of reaching weight goals, and subsequently split up into two OICW Block 1 systems - the XM8 5.56mm modular carbine, and the XM25 25mm semiautomatic grenade launcher, along with XM104 target acquisition / fire control system (FA/FCS, also known as 'computerized sight'). It is possible that in the future the XM8, XM25 and XM104 will be again combined into single modular system. However, current plans are to produce and test XM25/XM104 system as a stand-alone weapon, which will greatly improve the firepower of every infantry squad. The 25mm HEAB (High Explosive Air Burst) programmable ammunition will have at least three times longer effective range against point target, when compared with current 40mm systems such as M203 single-shot or Milkor Mk.1 multi-shot grenade launchers. It also will improve lethality and hit probability thanks to the rage-finding day/night sight, combined with ballistic computer, which will automatically pre-set the aiming reticule in the sight for measured range and program the 25mm grenades to explode in air exactly over or next to the target. The point-detonating capability also will be retained for back-up or anti-vehicle operations. The 25mm ammunition, used in XM25, will share the HEAB warheads with the 25mm crew-served XM307 OCSW weapon, but the cartridge will be shorter, to provide slower velocity and less recoil. XM25 also will be provided with other than HEAB ammunition options, such as FAE/thermobaric and HEAT (armor piercing, with penetration up to 50mm/2inch of RHA) point-detonating warheads for anti-personnel and anti-vehicle use, as well as canister flechette rounds (loaded with multiple steel darts for close combat). Training and less-lethal ammunition also is planned for XM25.

As the XM25 is a stand-alone weapon, its operator (grenadier) will have to carry an additional personal defense weapon, such as pistol or a carbine. Current plans are to issue about two XM25 weapons to infantry squad. It also must be noted that XM25 will not replace neither M249 SAW / light machine guns, nor the 40mm underbarrel grenade launchers (current issue M203 or proposed XM320 single shot add-on shot weapons).

The XM25 is a gas operated, rotating bolt, semiautomatic weapon. It is designed using bullpup layout, with the magazine and bolt located in the buttstock. The weapon housing is made from impact-resistant polymer. The ejection windows for spent cartridge cases are located on both sides of weapon; at any moment, however, only one ejection window is used, the other being closed by the integral dust cover. This, along with ambidextrous controls, allows the operator to fire XM25 from either shoulder, as required. The top of the weapon is fitted with the rail and electronic interface, and will accept XM104 TA/FCS sight unit. The interface is required to provide range information for programming unit, which sets up the grenade airburst fuse at the instant of firing. The XM104 sighting unit is battery-operated, but, shall it fail due to battery run-out or damage, the XM25 could still be used as a direct-fire weapon with the grenades automatically set to point-impact detonation mode. The additional fire mode, rangefinding and sight control buttons are located at the front of the enlarged triggerguard. XM25 uses detachable, single stack magazines, which hold 6 rounds. 




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