The Army is looking to type-classify the XM25 as the M25 and go into low-rate production late next year. The XM25 is a “smart” grenade launcher that fires a 25mm shell twice the range of the current man-fired 40mm grenade launchers fielded. It does this by coupling a ballistic computer, laser rangefinder and programmable round. The gunner “lazes” a target. The computer positions the reticle to achieve the correct elevation. The gunner selects a point, air or slightly delayed detonation and fires.  An air or slightly delayed air detonation allows for the grenade to explode over the target, defeating frontal cover.

The XM25 was withdrawn from testing in Afghanistan due to an overabundance of caution after a double feed caused a primer to detonate (the warhead did not detonate as the safeties were engaged). The weapon was damaged and the firer suffered superficial burns.  This incident, along with sequestration fever and a general proclivity to cut military spending, was enough, though, for the Senate to withdraw all funding in late June, which cancelled any chance of a FY2014 purchase. The Army is not going along quietly.

I’ve been following this system for years and got to talk to some PEO Soldier representatives last year, and they allowed me to use the training system when I visited Ft. Benning’s Maneuver Conference. The “Punisher,” as the troops nicknamed it, received glowing reports from its combat testing in Afghanistan. Across nine engagements and 55 rounds fired in anger, it consistently caused the Taliban to break contact and withdraw. As evidence of its popularity at the end of the testing period, units requested they keep the weapon until all rounds had been fired.

On the other hand, it’s been reported that the 75th Ranger Regiment felt the weapon was too heavy and cumbersome to take on patrols, and the 25mm didn’t justify giving up an M4. Ft. Benning’s Maneuver Center of Excellence CSM James Carabello didn’t agree.  Carabello, a veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment, 82nd Airborne and 10th Mountain, referred to the XM25 as “a game-changer.” Carabello’s troops from the 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain, engaged insurgents several times with XM25s during a 2011 Afghanistan deployment.