XM25: Can This be the Game Changer?

– By Hussain Asif, NUST Science Blog

Weapons are almost never talked about outside the circle of their users but every once in a while, a weapon appears which carves its way into everyday language because of its sheer outstanding performance, like the nuclear bomb or AK-47.

Today I want to talk about a weapon which isn’t very extraordinary but it is what experts believe to be a game changer in urban warfare. Many of you would have heard the expression “Afghan Baki Kohsar Baki Alhukmu Lillah wal Mulku Lillah” – along with certain other aspects, one of the main things this expression depicts is the intrinsic advantage Afghan fighters have on foreign forces: Mountains……!

The thing about the kind of terrain Afghanistan has is that you have a lot of protection if you know where to hide; a few Afghans armed with rifles, taking cover behind a rock are literally invincible until you call in artillery strike or close air strike (and they aren’t that common btw).

So now that we know why we call that country “Graveyard of Empires”, let’s talk about the weapon in question. Apparently, it’s a grenade launcher which launches 25 mm grenades like many other launchers, but unlike many other launchers, it does so with high accuracy and timing. This means that there is an intrinsic timer present inside the bullet integrated with a spin meter which calculates the number of spins taken by the projectile and after completing a specific number of spins as designated by the rifle, the projectile explodes midair.

When a group of soldiers encounters an enemy force behind cover, they have two options: they can either put on suppressive fire or try to flank the enemy; or alternatively, they can sit ducks and wait for an artillery strike or close air support. But if one of the soldiers there happens to have this system, he can simply use the laser range finder (built-in with the system) and can give corrections accordingly. Say, if the enemy is crouching behind a car at 100 meters, the soldier will find the range and apply correction to the round, programming it to explode 101 meters away. Then he will aim at the side or above the enemy and boom!

Just so that you know how high tech the device is: it has an accuracy of less than one meter in terms of exploding at specific distances and to make things even better, it has a range of 500 meters, whereas an average automatic rifle has an effective range of 700 meters max. Essentially, we have a weapon with almost the same range as an M16 but with a whole lot more punch. Here’s a video to give you an idea.

Field tests have commenced this year and a report says its 500% more effective than an automatic rifle, considering the nature of warfare in Afghanistan. I believe we are now reaching a phase in history when advanced technology is putting many traditions to test, but Afghans have shown their strength before. Let’s see what happens.

Disclaimer: This article is purely meant for critical analysis of the impact this instrument will have on the war along with a review of its mechanism. The author has no intention whatsoever to be partial to any of the stakeholders in US-Afghan conflict.

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