Army refining airburst technology
September 27, 2012
(Washington, D.C.) -- The U.S. Army is preparing to conduct a second Forward
Operational Assessment of its XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE)
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 Sept.20 at
Fort Benning's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE), Columbus, Ga.
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,
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
"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," said
During its initial Forward Operational Assessment, the XM 25 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 XM 25 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 based on lessons learned from combat. 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.
Infantry Soldier Training
Modernization and improvements to the XM 25 and other weapons are also based
heavily upon Soldiers' experience in combat and the Tactics, Techniques and
Procedures used to maximize their effect.
Therefore, the Army initiated a pilot program aimed at
helping Soldiers train and prepare for the many contingencies of combat. The
Advanced Situational Awareness Training program at Fort Benning's Maneuver
Center of Excellence consists of either a five or 22-day "train the trainer"
course with intense classroom teaching and field exercises, said Command
Sgt. Maj. Shawn Cook, 197th Infantry Brigade.
The training, designed to provide predictive tools and tactical problem
solving mechanisms, is aimed at helping Soldiers make effective decisions in
highly complex, fast-moving combat environments, he added.
"We are required to put our Soldiers in harm's way, and greater situational
awareness provides them with more mission success and a safer environment.
This training allows Soldiers to better recognize human behaviors in their
surroundings, enabling them to make better decisions. Soldiers who have
deployed after this training say that it makes a big difference in the
outcomes on the battlefield, increases effectiveness and saves lives," Cook