WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 23, 2008) - Some of the Army's most high-tech future weapons were recently on display on Capitol Hill as part of the "Empowering Soldiers Through High Technology" exhibit sponsored by the assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition, logistics and technology.

Last week, Congressmen got a sneak peak at the future of Soldiers' personal weapons, including the M-26 Modular Accessory Shotgun System and the XM-25 Individual Airburst Weapon System.

Making its way onto the field in fiscal 2009, 35,000 M-26 12-guage MASSs will be a new addition to arms carried by infantry, military police and Special Forces operators and will reduce the number of weapons a Soldier carries. Designed to be mounted on an M-4 or M-16 rifle, the combination rifle/shotgun also has a collapsible butt stock for use as a stand-alone weapon.

"Right now if a Soldier wants to use a shotgun, he uses a shotgun and slings his rifle and when he uses his rifle he has to sling the shotgun and then get out the rifle," said Maj. Lawrence Dring, assistant program manager for individual weapons at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J. "With the M-26, it's an all-in-one piece. It has a door-breaching attachment which goes flush against a door lock and allows the 12-guage shell to blow the lock off a door and the Soldier to room clear without changing weapons."

The M-26 can also be used in non-lethal operations by using rubber buckshot or slugs in the shotgun while the rifle or carbine carries live rounds. This way if the situation changes and becomes deadly for Soldiers, they can place their primary weapon on "fire" mode.

The futuristic-looking XM-25 IAWS is under development and will eventually be used to address the defeat of defilade targets - those targets protected by obstacles such as hills or ridges.

The 2.5 pound, lightweight material composite system will come with a target acquisition/fire control that integrates a thermal capability with direct-view optics, laser rangefinder, compass, fuze setter, ballistic computer and an internal display.

Firing 25mm munitions that include high-explosive airburst, armor-piercing, anti-personnel, non-lethal, training and breaching rounds, a Soldier places the aim point on the target and activates the laser rangefinder. The fire control system will then provide an adjusted aim point that the Soldier adjusts for distance. The range data is communicated to the round which when fired will explode over the target at a precise programmed distance. The Army expects the XM-25 to be fielded by 2013.