By Nick DukeSeptember 16, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Sept. 17, 2014) -- Senior Army leaders, Soldiers and developers got a look at the potential future of medium-caliber weapon systems Sept. 10, as the Capabilities and Development Integration Directorate's Mounted Requirements Division and the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center conducted a demonstration of the XM813, a 30-mm weapon system, at the Digital Multi-Purpose Range Complex.
For the demonstration, the XM813 was mounted on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and fired a series of three engagements at approximately 1,400 to 1,500 meters from the target.
During the demonstration, master gunners from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team were inside the Bradley getting hands-on experience with the XM813.
Lt. Col. Scott DeBolt, chief of MRD's Heavy Systems Branch, said that level of Soldier involvement will be key to development going forward.
"The sooner we get Soldiers in the loop to figure out exactly what needs to be improved, the sooner those can be put into the prototypes," he said.
Staff Sgt. Michael Stone, an Abrams master gunner for 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, 3rd ABCT, said he was impressed with the system after getting to fire it.
"I fired several bursts off the weapon," he said. "I was impressed by the simplicity of the fire control system and the ease with which I was able to be taught - within a span of about five minutes - to upload ammunition into the feeder, as well as put rounds on target from about 1,500 meters with very little instruction.
"As a tanker, we're always 'one shot, one kill.' Anything that can get our Infantry brethren closer to that and allow them to fire minimum rounds for the achieved target effect is something that will be a plus for everybody."
The 30-mm XM813 is intended to replace the 25-mm M242, giving vehicles greater firepower.
"The lethality this provides a fighting vehicle and the dismounted Infantry in a dismounted Infantry support role is dramatic," DeBolt said.
The XM813 fires a linkless ammunition and also has airburst capabilities, although those capabilities were not showcased during the demonstration here.
Airburst capability, combined with the fire control system that is in development, helps to greatly increase the system's lethality, DeBolt said.
"The primary game changer is the accuracy of the fire control system," DeBolt said. "It allows you to kill targets at ranges with shorter bursts. It additionally provides an airburst capability that allows us to engage targets in defilade, targets in the open, and allows us to have more target effect. You actually get kills against targets that we would currently be doing suppression against."
In addition to the increased lethality, the XM813 is also a more accurate weapon, according to ARDEC officials.
"Compared to the M242, we have been able to improve the weapon system to the point where we can show a significant decrease in the number of rounds that will be required in order to defeat your target," said Jeffery Hart, ARDEC's chief of medium weapons. "We've done studies that show that, and that is the reason why we invested in improvements to the barrel and the recoil. In effect, it can fire two or three rounds instead of 10 to meet your requirements."
While the demonstration featured the XM813 on a Bradley, the potential exists for the system to be mounted on other combat vehicles.
"The lethality and the capabilities lend themselves to integration if the Army decided to upgrade the lethality on the Bradley, move to a future fighting vehicle or upgrade lethality on a Stryker," DeBolt said. "There's a lot of opportunity with the potential of a common caliber solution across the fleet of vehicles we currently control at Fort Benning."
ARDEC is developing the system under the Advanced Lethality and Accuracy System for Medium Caliber program, and the XM813 has letters of endorsement from both Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, director of the Army Capabilities and Integration Center and deputy commanding general, Futures, Training and Doctrine Command, and Lt. Gen. Keith Walker, who formerly held the same position.