The U.S. Army is to acquire the Orbital ATK Smart Grenade Launcher, an advanced laser-guided ordinance that seeks enemy targets and then destroys them.
Developed in the stables of Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Sciences), the Smart Grenade Launcher is being hailed as the next-generation semi-automatic weapon. The launcher could soon help American soldiers stay safely hidden and yet take out enemy strongholds.
Enemies snugly hidden inside bunkers and behind large obstacles can be effectively tackled with the smart grenade launcher, affirmed the company.
“The weapon is designed for effectiveness against enemies protected by walls, dug into foxholes or hidden in hard-to-reach places.”
Officially named as the XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System, the grenade launcher is equipped with multiple sensors mounted on the warhead as well as the launcher to actively seek out the enemy before detonation. In other words, the discharge of the grenade as well as its explosion can be programmed for maximum strike capability, continued the company.
“The weapon’s targeting mechanism uses thermal capability with direct-view optics, laser rangefinder, compass, fuze setter, ballistic computer, laser pointer and illuminator, and an internal display. The weapon features revolutionary high-explosive, airburst ammunition programmed by the weapon’s Target Acquisition/Fire Control system (TA/FC). The system integrates ballistics computation in the full-solution TA/FC.”
How does a soldier use the Orbital ATK Smart Grenade Launcher? Essentially, the onus of zeroing on the target or, in other words, the fine tweaking of the projectile of the ammunition so that it lands on the enemy instead of “near” it, lies on the grenade instead of the soldier firing it. Once the enemy’s hideout is located and confirmed, the soldier has to aim the grenade launcher towards it and allow the built-in “fire-control mechanism” to offer an “adjusted aim point.” In simpler terms, the soldier has to merely aim at the target and the computer then offers a slightly revised but highly accurate target point.
After the auto-tuned target point is accepted by the soldier, he or she has to let the grenade loose. The final target information, which has been fed into the chambered 25 mm round, allows a much better trajectory and effective warhead delivery. Moreover, the soldier can either choose to have the grenade explode on impact as it happens in traditional grenade launchers or have the grenade burst in mid-air after it has traveled the preprogrammed distance. The mid-air explosion is many-a-times much more effective if the target is spread over a few square meters.
Interestingly, though the army may acquire the XM25 Orbital ATK Smart Grenade Launcher next year, American soldiers have been using prototypes for quite some time. In fact, the Army is said to have used a cruder version way back in 2010 when it was engaged in Afghanistan. The soldiers reported they were extremely happy with the way the smart grenades behaved in live combat and, as a result, the prototype was pushed for development into a final deployment-ready product.
Orbital ATK confirmed on Wednesday that it has received orders totaling $203 million to produce small-caliber ammunition for the U.S. Army, reported News Max. It added that the orders are for 0.30-caliber, 0.50-caliber, 5.56-mm, and 7.62-mm ammunition, which are part of a much bigger seven-year supply agreement.
The U.S. Army will undoubtedly conduct many more advanced field tests with the XM25 Orbital ATK Smart Grenade Launcher before the weapon is ready for active combat duty. However, since the smart grenade launcher has already proven its efficacy in a live combat situation before, the XM25 could soon be seen ending firefights much quicker, reported MSN.
[Image Credit | Orbital ATK, US Army]