Even before the U.S. army began experimenting with it last year in Afghanistan, the XM-25 rifle was already being hailed as a game changer. Now it appears like the futuristic weapon has more than lived up to the hype.
Army officials were so impressed with the technology that they recently awarded defense firm ATK a $65.8 million dollar contract to develop it further in preparation for mass production, which is slated for sometime in the year 2013. And for anyone who wants to know what the big deal is, the military has just released a demonstration video that showcases why you wouldn't want to mess with anybody armed with what some have nicknamed "The Punisher."
The XM-25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System is a semi-automatic airburst grenade launcher that's specially designed to overcome a common problem faced by troops in combat situations. Insurgents who attack often take cover behind walls, trees and trenches, making it difficult for soldiers to score a direct hit. But rounds fired from the rifle can be programmed to explode at a set distance, such as right above or behind the enemy target.
To achieve this degree of precision, the rifle relies on a series of "smart" technology features, which include:
A laser rangefinder to detect the distance to the target.
A computerized system that automatically sends the proper detonating distance to the grenade.
Microchip-embedded 25 mm “smart” grenade rounds that can achieve high accuracy up to 500 meters (although military officials hope this can be extended to about 1,000 meters)
Under development are the option of door breaching, armor piercing or non-lethal rounds.
Wiring up military weapons with smart technology isn't cheap however. So far, five prototypes have been used in combat with each round costing about $1000 dollars to manufacture. The army expects that figure to drop to $35 dollars per shot once the rounds are mass produced.
At that stage, military officials hope to purchase at least 12,500 XM-25 rifles for about $25,000 dollars each.