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US Army Testing A Smart Grenade Launcher: You Can Run But You Can’t Hide

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The XM25 Counter Defilade Engagement System is about to undergo testing by the U.S. Army, after a successful yet limited run of prototypes of the smart grenade launcher and its airburst grenade in Afghanistan about five years ago.

Aerospace and defense firm Oribital ATK developed the XM25. And now the US army has announced its intentions to begin acceptance testing the grenade launch at some point in 2016.

Some of the top perks of the smart grenade launcher is its ability to detonate grenades precisely and without impact. Users can limit their exposure during engagements and the splash damage from the airburst grenades can effectively bend corners to reach targets.

"The XM25 is a next-generation, semi-automatic weapon designed for effectiveness against enemies protected by walls, dug into foxholes or hidden in hard-to-reach places," says Orbital ATK.

The XM25 employs a laser rangefinder that can be used to set precisely when a grenade detonates. Where it detonates is still up to the soldier, though the XM25's fire control system delivers an "adjusted aim point" to help the user exact his or her shot.

"The soldier places the adjusted aim point on target and pulls the trigger," says Orbital ATK. "Target information is communicated to the chambered 25 mm round. As the round speeds down range, it measures the distance traveled and bursts at the pre-programmed distance."

The XM25 includes 2x direct view optic, 2x thermal sight, a software engine for ballistics, a fuze setter, a display, a digital compass and environmental sensors. It can fire high explosive, nonlethal, flechette, thermobaric and training grenades.

Orbital ATK estimates that the fire control system and airburst grenades help improve soldier accuracy by between 300 and 500 percent. The optimum range for the grenade launcher is roughly 1,000 feet, though Orbital ATK says the XM25 is capable of lobbing grenades up to 1,600 feet and beyond.

The US Army began field testing the XM25 in November of 2010 in Afghanistan, with a handful of soldiers carrying the smart grenade launchers on patrols. Back then, the XM25 was projected to wrap up approvals and begin issuing a finalized version of the weapons in 2014. While that goal was missed, it may have just been off by a couple of years.

See the XM25 in action in the video below.

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