Friday, September 21, 2012

XM25 'Punisher' Finds Home in Infantry Squads

FORT BENNING, Ga. ( -- The Army’s shoulder-fired 25mm airburst weapon that many soldiers call “the Punisher” is slowly winning the approval of the infantry after a decade of scrutiny.

The boxy, futuristic-looking XM25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System recently completed a 14-month battlefield assessment and is on its way to earning a permanent position in the infantry squad beginning in 2014, Army weapons officials said. [...]

The XM25 grew out of its predecessor, the XM29 -- an over-and-under system with a 5.56mm carbine on the bottom and the 20mm airburst weapon on top. It stalled in the face of technical challenges that made the 18-pound weapon too heavy and bulky. The program ended up costing about $100 million.

The current XM25 recently wrapped a 14-month battlefield assessment in Afghanistan. Weapons officials used soldier feedback from the assessment to incorporate “more than 100 improvements” to the ergonomics and reliability of the weapon, said Col. Scott Armstrong, who runs Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

Weapons officials have accelerated the production of 36 of these newer XM25s for a second battlefield assessment scheduled to begin in January, Armstrong said.

The goal is to have senior leaders approve “a production decision next fall and, a year later, begin fielding the system in the fall of 2014,” Armstrong said.

This new addition to infantry squad could cost close to $25,000 each, but weapons officials argue that XM25 is worth it.

“This brings an entirely new capability to the soldier for the counter-defilade fight; to be able to get the enemy soldiers that are behind walls, behind trees or in buildings,” Armstrong said.