Feeds

Judge Dredd smartshell shotguns to hit Iraq in '09

'XM-25' wireless airburst slugs hit round corners

Intelligent flash storage arrays

You can combine this with a laser rangefinder, digital three-axis inclination sensors and computer gunsights to achieve some almost Judge Dredd-style results. For instance your enemy is hiding unsportingly in a trench or behind a wall. You can ping his hide with the rangefinder, select an extra metre or two of distance on the fuze, and shoot slightly high. The grenade-slug will explode just above the target's head, spraying him with shrapnel despite his frontal hard cover. You could use the same trick to make your rounds explode right next to an enemy hiding around a corner.

Likewise, you can dial up slightly increased distance shooting at windows, thin walls, shrubbery or whatever. The projectiles will punch through to explode where you want them to, where impact-fused rounds would tend to go off too soon or too late.

The 25mm wireless airburst notion first got serious impetus as part of the US Army's Objective Infantry Combat Weapon (OICW) plan of the 1990s. This would have been a dual combo weapon, a bit like the rifles with underbarrel ordinary-grenade launchers which are common today. The 25mm smartshell gun would have been paired with an ordinary assault-rifle type shooter firing regular dumb bullets.

The snag with the OICW multi-shooter was that it came out ridiculously heavy, which put the whole thing largely onto a back burner at the Pentagon. But the 25mm smartshells were still the only realistic concept for a genuinely new kind of infantry weapon, and since 2001 the US forces have plunged into two large infantry wars. There has been more and more suggestion that the fountains of money now being poured into American military technology should try to focus a bit more on the grunts who are doing the actual fighting, rather than fighter pilots, submarine captains etc.

Thus the OICW 25mm smartgun has been turned into a standalone weapon, nowadays generally known as the XM-25 (X for experimental - it would presumably become the M-25 in line service). It is referred to variously as an Individual Airburst or Counter Defilade system.

The XM-25 dedicated airburst gun had been noodling along with the odd test here and there, but now it is said to be moving forward seriously to the point where it could be in Iraq or Afghanistan next year. This is according to the war-hacks at Military.com, who have spoken to Rich Audette, a senior Army official in charge of personal weapons.

"What we're talking about is a true 'leap ahead' in lethality, here. This is a huge step," Audette told Military.com last week.

As envisaged, the proposed M-25 would hold as many as ten 25mm smartshells in a box magazine. Its rifled barrel would let these airburst precisely out to 500m, or less accurately to 700m. Complete with computer/rangefinder/thermal-vision module the gun would weigh as much as a present day M-16 rifle+grenade launcher combo, and have recoil similar to an ordinary 12-bore shotgun.

The M-25 would seem on the face of it to be at a disadvantage in the closeup scuffling nowadays so common for Western footsoldiers, but possibly not. Though hefty, it is short and handy - about the length of an existing M-4 carbine with stock telescoped. Though the barrel is rifled, there's nothing to stop it being loaded with flechette or shot cartridges rather than airburst rounds, which would offer devastating in-your-face firepower. (There are some international legal issues around soldiers using shot rounds against enemy troops, but they wouldn't apply against most of today's enemies. The modern opposition aren't usually national troops, and even if they are the enemy nation hasn't usually ratified the relevant conventions. Shotguns are legally fine for police use, of course.)

Plenty of special forces operators, regular troops and SWAT cops are already happy to carry 12-bore shotguns of various kinds into firefights, after all - they'd presumably be happier yet with an even more brutal, approximately 4- or 5-bore*** weapon holding at least as many rounds. This would be the more so as the Army plans to offer door-breaching 25mm rounds, and shaped-charge impact warheads which could blow a hole in quite thick armour.

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Next page: Bootnotes

More from The Register

next story
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
The next big thing in medical science: POO TRANSPLANTS
Your brother's gonna die, kid, unless we can give him your, well ...
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.