The Army is planning on sending its much-anticipated high-tech, highly secret XM-25 Individual Airburst Weapon System (IAWS) to the warzone in the next few months. The IAWS provides the soldier with a 300% to 500% increase in hit probability to defeat point, area, and defilade targets out to 500 meters.
The XM-25 is a smart airburst grenade launcher capable of neutralizing targets behind walls or windows. The gunner aims the weapon’s Target Acquisition/Fire Control (TA/FC) system (developed by L-3 Communications Brashear) at the wall or window behind where the enemy is hiding. The fire control system then provides an adjusted aim point. The soldier places the adjusted aim point on target and pulls the trigger sending a fury of shrapnel precisely into the preprogrammed target. The 25mm’s warhead’s blast is equivalent to that of a hand grenade.
The precision firepower will come at a high price: It’s projected to run $25,000 per weapon but in Afghanistan today, the US is forced to use much more costly systems like Hellfire missiles ($58,000 each) fired from Apache attack helicopters ($10 million each) to hit a distant and embedded enemy with pinpoint accuracy. That doesn’t include the cost of putting the pilots in harm’s way, or the per flight hour operating cost of $3,851 for each AH-64 Apache.
The XM-25 IAWS 25mm rounds are expected to cost about $24 apiece. The family of 25mm rounds will consist of Non-Lethal, Anti Personnel, High Explosive Air Bursting, Door Breaching, Armor Piercing, and Training. The 25mm round actually has two warheads that provide more punch than the current 40mm grenade launcher.
The Army plans to spend $34 million on further development in 2011 with a production start slated for 2012, according to service budget documents. The service had planned to buy 12,500 XM-25s, but a final decision is awaiting a program review by senior Army officials.