U.S ARMY REFINING AIRBURST TECHNOLOGY
By Kris Osborn
27 Sep 12. The U.S. Army is preparing to conduct a second Forward Operational Assessment of its XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement airburst weapon system.
Program managers are seeking to expedite development of the system, refine and improve the technology, and ultimately begin formal production by the fall of 2014, service officials said during a roundtable Sept. 20 at Fort Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence.
The weapon fires a high-explosive airburst round capable of detonating at a specific, pre-determined point in space near an enemy target hidden or otherwise obscured by terrain or other obstacles.
“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,” said Col. Scott Armstrong, project manager, Soldier Weapons. “The weapon fires a programmable airburst 25mm smart round. It consists of the weapons system with a target-acquisition control system mounted on top. Development of the system is going well.”
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, said Dr. Scott Fish, Army chief scientist.
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 recently 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 improve and 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,” Armstrong said.
During its initial Forward Operational Assessment, the XM25 provided a decisive advantage to Soldiers in combat in Afghanistan. While on patrol in Southern Afghanistan, Soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division used the XM25 to engage and successfully defeat enemy forces hiding behind three-to-four foot walls used by Afghans to grow grapes, said Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, MCoE, a combat veteran who recently led infantry units in Afghanistan with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
“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.
In fact, the latest version of the XM25 slated to deploy with Soldiers in
Afghanistan in January of next year includes a range of key design improvements base