Will This Weapon Change Infantry Warfare Forever? [UPDATE]

XM-25 Counter-Defilade Engagement SystemIt appears that the Army’s XM-25 Counter-Defilade Target Engagement System, a shoulder-fired 25mm grenade launcher, may not get the opportunity to fulfill its destiny as the Weapon That Will Change Infantry Warfare Forever after all.

Military.com reports that the Department of Defense’s Inspector General’s Office has recommended that the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Acquisition, Logistics and Technology, Katrina McFarland, “determine whether to proceed with or cancel the XM25 program after reviewing the results of the 2016 Governmental testing,” which will be completed this fall. The Army has indicated that it concurs with the recommendation.

The Army delayed acquisition funding and extended the XM-25’s development phase in 2014 in response to problems encountered during field testing and critiques of the weapon by the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Army’s Maneuver Center of Excellence. During a live-fire exercise in 2013, an XM-25 “experienced a double feed and an unintentional primer ignition of one of the 25mm high explosive rounds,” which fortunately, caused only minor injuries to the soldier testing it, but potentially could have been much worse.

More consequentially for the XM-25 program, the Rangers found that infantry squad soldiers assigned to wield it could not also carry a rifle due to the extra weight. This limited the ability of the XM-25 bearer to perform battle drills and deprived the squad of a rifle in close range combat. The XM-25 also quickly depleted all of its 36 rounds in action. As a result, the Rangers declined to use an XM-25 in an assault on a fortified compound in Afghanistan in 2013, on the grounds that the weapon’s limited utility did not justify leaving out an M4A1 carbine.

The DOD IG criticized the Army for not specifying the exact costs of the extended development and for declining to state how many XM-25s it is considering initially procuring. Stay tuned…

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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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