Summer debut for Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle
Exploding wireless mini-shell ammo hits round corners
US Army officials have announced that the high-tech XM-25 computer smartgun, intended to let soldiers shoot at and hit enemies hiding around corners, will enter field trials this summer. The "counter defilade" gun, similar in size to existing infantry weapons, is expected to reduce the number of controversial airstrikes used in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Your trench has become your grave.
Regular Reg readers will already be familiar with the XM-25 and its unique ability to strike at enemy gunmen or snipers who are protected by roof edges, corners, rock outcrops, trenches etc. This is accomplished by using a laser rangefinder to precisely measure the distance to the enemy's protection (for instance a low wall). The XM-25 smartgunner then selects how much nearer or further from that location he thinks the target is - for an enemy behind a normal wall, the soldier would choose +1 metre. If the soldier had lased the back of a room or cave through an opening, he might choose -1 or -2 metres.
Then the XM-25's computer calculates the exact angle the weapon's barrel should be elevated to in order to lob a 25mm explosive mini-shell through the selected point in space, and generates a new pipper in the gunsight accordingly. The soldier moves the pip onto his or her original point of aim, so adjusting the gunbarrel to the correct angle.
The shell in the XM-25's breech gets its electronic time fuse precisely set by a wireless transmission from the smartgun computer at the instant it is fired. It flies out on the calculated ballistic arc and explodes exactly in the chosen spot - above the head of an enemy in a trench or on a rooftop, right next to one lurking around a corner, dead in the middle of a room etc. The miniature explosive warhead sprays the target(s) with shrapnel.
Rich Audette, the US Army official in charge of the XM-25, described the weapon's usefulness in a briefing last week.
"In Iraq we had many instances where there was a sniper firing from a rooftop and you have a squad trying to engage that target, but the soldiers couldn’t get to him with the weapons they had, so they’d call in the Air Force to drop a JDAM [joint direct attack munition - a smart bomb],” he said. “We can take out the target at $25 per XM round as opposed to a $20,000 to $50,000 JDAM.”
Quite apart from saving money, less smartbombs dropped would also be a good thing in terms of winning the propaganda war - particularly in Afghanistan at the moment, where US and allied airstrikes are believed to be killing large numbers of innocent civilians.
Rorke's Drift a Pyrrhic (note spelling) victory? Not hardly. 17 killed out of 139. The idea that the braver side always wins is rubbish. Who were braver at Omdurman, Kitchener's army or the Dervishes? Who were braver on Iwo Jima, the Marines or the Japanese defenders? Courage is a very important factor, but technology can produce lopsided results irrespective of the relative bravery of the combatants. It took just as much courage to fly a bomber over Germany in 1941 as in 1945, but in 1941 crews were lucky to deliver their bombload within five miles of the target (frequently they bombed the wrong country, never mind the wrong city). By war's end average targeting error was down to 300 yards, with some specialist units achieving as little as 80 yards. The difference in combat effectiveness was profound, and it was almost wholly due to technology.
I'm also a bit fed up with the assertion that US troops are mindless undeducated automatons given to panicking and shooting indiscriminately. Nothing could be further from the truth. Their NCOs, in particular, are absolutely excellent, and it is not uncommon to find, say, a SSG with a Bachelor's or even Master's degree.
Half - correct.
Where there is a massive difference, technology usually wins - but not always.
Rorke's Drift, anyone? A pirhic victory at best, and the battle of Isindlwala (sp?) a day or two before was a complete loss to the British, due to overwhelming numbers, and greater self-belief. It would be more factually correct to say that the braver side always wins - the man who remains calm retains his skills better, and both negative and positive-reinforcement starts to occur then, depending on which side you are on.
AA-12 has its uses, so do sniper-rifles, area-suppression machine guns, mortars, RPGs etc etc.
That is why a typical infantry unit consists of a variety of specialists, but also why combined weapons like the under-slung grenade-launcher are favoured, but there is no chance that this will ever have a Judge-Dredd style selector on it, as every magazine ever made is strictly one-by-one loading: tracer always has to be pre-loaded, and only changing a belt/magazine can affect its usage pattern.
@AC (I repeat,it is just a toy)
As Muscleguy pointed out, the Mongols were no slouches when it came to the technology of warfare (which is what we are talking about). The Chinese may have out done them in other forms of technology, but in war making tech they did not notably outclass the Mongols.
As to the Japanese, their planes may have been somewhat superior at the outset of WW 2, but there is a difference between a slight edge and massive superiority. The American fighters of the day (the P-40 and F4F), for example, had advantages in particular areas like like durability and speed in a dive that they could and did use to counter the advantages of the Zero quite handily when used correctly (as the kill ratio of the Flying Tigers illustrates).
That is part of the point, an edge in tech is nice to have, but the kind of technical advantage I am talking about is more of a night-and-day type thing. Consider, for example, what happened to Confederate units armed with muzzle loaders faced when they encountered one of the (relatively rare) Union detachments armed with repeating rifles during the American Civil War. The reason for that rarity, BTW, is the decision by some functionary in the War Department, with a mindset similar to yours, not to officially adopt repeating rifles because they would "encourage soldiers to waste ammunition".
As to your arguments that US soldiers are poorly trained, there is nothing to refute, you just made a flat assertion with nothing to back it up. Anecdotally, I would point out that the video clips that I have seen from Iraq and Afghanistan did not show any instances of panic fire, specifically, nor much in the way of apparent inadequate training, in general.
Your whole assumption seems to be that spending on new weapon tech is done to the exclusion of money for training. With a military budget of US$651.2 billion(!), I think there's room for spending on tech like the XM 25 without shortchanging training.