Army XM 25 "Airburst" Weapon Attacked Taliban in Afghanistan - Weapon's Future Uncertain
Story Courtesy www.Scout.com Photo Courtesy U.S.Army
The weapon uses laser-rangefinder technology to fire a high-explosive airburst round capable of detonating at a specific point near an enemy target hidden or otherwise obscured by terrain or other obstacles.
Dodging enemy gunfire in close-quarter urban combat, seeking to destroy enemy fighters hiding behind walls, rocks and trees and firing ammunition especially engineered to explode at a particular, pre-planned point in space – comprise the highly sought-after advantages of the Army’s XM25 “airburst” weapon.
However, despite the initial promise of prototypes of the technology in combat in Afghanistan as an emerging way to bring a decisive advantage to Soldiers in firefight, the future of the XM25 is now uncertain due to ongoing Army needs, requirements, weapons inventory assessments and budget considerations, service officials told Scout Warrior. The Army’s XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system, in development for several years, was used to destroy Taliban fighters hiding behind grape-growing walls in Afghanistan during a Forward Operational Assessment of the weapon several years ago. Extensive analysis and adjustments to the weapon followed this operational combat evaluation, Army officials explained.
Part of the calculus regarding a production decision about the weapon relates to the possiblilty of the weapon "mis-firing," several news reports said. Army officials did not comment on this, however a 2015 news report in the Economist said a US Soldier was slightly injured during training with the XM 25 when it mis-fired. It does now, nonetheless, appear as though this problem was pervasive or persistent with the weapon - but it could be a factor amidst ongoing plans for the weapon's future.
Army and Pentagon weapons developers and budget planners are now deliberating plans for the weapon, which could be formally produced and deployed within the next several years – or passed over due to fiscal constraints.While the XM25 would clearly be useful in a major force-on-force engagement or great power conflict, airburst attacks have particular value in a counterinsurgency type-fight wherein enemies seek to use terrain, building, rocks, ditches or trees to protect themselves from being targeted.
By attacking with an “airburst” round, Soldiers do not have to have a linear view or direct line of sight to an enemy target; if they know an enemy is behind a rock or tree (in defilade) – the weapon can explode above or near the location to ensure the target is destroyed.The weapon uses laser-rangefinder technology to fire a high-explosive airburst round capable of detonating at a specific point near an enemy target hidden or otherwise obscured by terrain or other obstacles, Army developers have explained.
Program managers had been seeking to expedite development of the system, refine and improve the technology, and ultimately begin formal production by the fall of 2014, however its current trajectory is now unclear. "The XM25 brings a new capability to the Soldier for the counter-defilade fight, allowing him to be able to engage enemy combatants behind walls, behind trees or in buildings," former XM25 program manager Col. Scott Armstrong, previously explained in an Army statement.
"The weapon fires a programmable airburst 25mm smart round. It consists of the weapons system with a target acquisition control system mounted on top," Armstrong said.The XM25 represents the state-of-the art in terms of airburst technology, consisting of a programmable 25mm round, a sensor and a fire-control system, former Army Chief Scientist, Dr. Scott Fish, told Army.mil following the assessments.
Using laser rangefinder technology, the fire control system on the weapon uses computer technology to calculate the distance the round must travel in order to explode at a particular, pre-determined point in space, he explained.
"The laser rangefinder sends a pulse of light out to the target. This light pulse hits the target and is reflected back, allowing the fire control system to calculate the distance based on the time it takes the light pulse to travel," Fish said. "Since the speed of light is known, the exact distance to the target can then be determined. Once you determine how far the distance is to the target, a computer then calculates how long it will take the round to get there."
The sensor and computer in the fire control system calculate the time it will take the round to reach the target by factoring in the distance it needs to travel and the speed at which it travels, Fish added. The 25mm round is engineered with a small, chip-based sensor able to track distance in flight so that the round detonates at precisely the right distance, Fish said.
Earlier prototypes of the XM25 completed 14-months of Forward Operational Assessments in Afghanistan, an effort designed to provide Soldiers in combat with the advantage of having airburst technology and harvest important feedback needed to refine development of the weapon's final design for production. "The Army has learned many valuable lessons from these deployments regarding how the weapon can be deployed and how tactics can be changed to better refine the design of the weapon. Based on feedback from Soldiers and contractor testing, we have already incorporated more than 100 improvements to the systems related to ergonomics, performance and fire control," said Armstrong.
During its initial Forward Operational Assessment, the XM 25 provided a decisive advantage to Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan, Army officials said.
Units using several prototype XM25s in theater were accompanied by teams of weapons experts focused on analyzing the system's performance with a mind to making needed improvements, Armstrong said.
While on patrol in Southern Afghanistan several years ago, Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division used the XM 25 to engage and successfully defeat enemy forces hiding behind three-to-four foot walls used by Afghans to grow grapes, Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, MCoE, (Maneuver Center of Excellence) a combat veteran who recently led infantry units, told Army.mil following the assessment.
"We defeated any enemy force that we deployed the weapon against. The XM25 is a devastating weapons system that changes the face of battle when we are in direct fire contact with the enemy," he said.
U.S. FLAG ETIQUETTE
Standards of respect
The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:
The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.
Displaying the Flag Outdoors
When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.
When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.
When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.
The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.
No other flag ever should be placed above it.
The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.
Raising and Lowering the Flag
The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.
Displaying the Flag Indoors
When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.
The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.
When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.
When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.
Parading and Saluting the Flag
When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.
The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.
The Flag in Mourning
To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.