Army to Rename XM25 Airburst Weapon


U.S. Army weapons officials predict that the long-awaited XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement weapon will be ready for fielding by late 2014. The weapon will be known as the M25.

“We’d take the X off,” Lt. Col. Shawn Lucas, the Product Manager Individual Weapons, said in an Army press release. “It’s no longer experimental; it’d be the M25.”

XM25 is currently in the engineering and manufacturing development phase and not yet ready for fielding, Lucas said.
Army officials halted operational testing in of the shoulder-fired, 25mm airburst weapon in February after a soldier suffered minor injuries when the weapon “malfunctioned” in Afghanistan. The weapon experienced a double feed and an “unintentional primer ignition” of one round, Army officials maintain.

The XM25 had already completed one 14-month battlefield assessment and was in the early stages of a second assessment when the double feed and primer ignition occurred during a live-fire training exercise.

Right now, Lucas said the Army is working to make more improvements to the design of the XM25, in particular to the fire control system. He also said there has been a lot of feedback concerning battery life, weight, and the size of the magazine. Army officials hope to complete the improvements by next August when the service hopes to move to a “milestone C” acquisition decision in the program.

“That will allow them to start low-rate initial production, or LRIP, and manufacture a little more than 1,100 of the weapons, along with the needed ammunition,” Lucas said. “The LRIP decision will help prove out manufacturing processes for the weapon, the fire control and the ammunition. Additionally, those systems would then be used to do operational and live-fire testing.”

The cost for the XM25 and the rounds it fires is expensive today, Lucas said, because the weapons and ammunition are being manufactured by hand. But with development of automated production facilities, he said the price is expected to come down to about $35,000 for the weapon and fire control system, and about $55 per round.

The XM25, which some troops call the Punisher, has created both excitement and skepticism in the infantry community.

The weapon features a target acquisition system that calculates the target range with a push of a button, and transfers the data to the electronic fuse built into the 25mm round. When fired, the projectile is designed to explode directly above targets out to 600 meters, peppering enemy fighters with shrapnel.

Despite its boxy shape, infantrymen who have fired the XM25 in combat say it’s effective at engaging enemy forces hiding behind the short mud walls commonplace across Afghanistan.

Lucas said he expects the weapon will be fielded to all brigade combat teams, as well as units in U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Special Forces detachments, and the 75th Ranger Regiment.

But so far, the XM25 has also received its share of criticism from door-kickers who say the five-shot, 14-pound weapon system is more of a burden than a benefit to combat units. In March, elements of the Ranger Regiment refused to take XM25 with them for a raid on a fortified enemy compound in Afghanistan, sources familiar with the incident said.

After an initial assessment, Ranger units found the XM25 too heavy and cumbersome for the battlefield. They were also concerned that the limited basic load of 25mm rounds was not enough to justify taking an M4A1 carbine out of the mission, sources say.

XM25 is an offshoot of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program the Army began in the mid-1990s to increase firepower effectiveness. It was then known as the XM29 — an over-and-under system with a 5.56mm carbine on the bottom and the 20mm airburst weapon on top. The OICW program 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.

Weapons officials maintain that developing the airburst weapon separately will ultimately field a game-changing weapon to infantry units.

“It’s a leap ahead, something that has never before been resident in the squad, or really our small tactical formations, squads, platoons or companies,” Lucas said. “That’s the ability to engage, and have effects on targets that are in defilade.”

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Matt Cox
Matthew Cox is a reporter at He can be reached at
  • Lance

    Thought they stopped work because of safety issues last year?? Well it be awile before we see it common place With cuts coming and the USMC wanting a 40mm version may slow it down. As part of a riflemen team with M-4A1s I see it as a good thing to have a portable automatic grenade launcher.

  • Notmyname

    14 pounds plus spare ammo packs

    Isn’t this something that a gasoline powered quadcopter could CARRY to an on-foot squad in need of one in a short period of time?

    Just-in-time arming, instead of carrying the kitchen sink.

    • majr0d

      I guess you haven’t carried a SAW with 200 round ammo box? There are two of those in every squad and they weigh over 16lbs each. When you clip on the 200rnd ammo box and sights they top 22 lbs.

      Reality is not like Call of Duty.

    • blight_

      Yeah, just like soldiers only need a Remote Control of Death to hold COP Keating, amirite?

    • Guest

      Yes, call in an airdrop when you need a new weapon… Are you stupid!?! This is not Call Of Duty! In the real world troops rely on the weapons and equipment they carry with them.


    Great! Wait. It just loses an X in its name? Really?

  • ziv

    So I guess “The Punisher” nickname isn’t going to be allowed to stick? And who was it referring to, the Afghani’s that were getting hit out to 2300 feet? Or the soldier that was getting knocked for a loop by the recoil? Or both? It sounds like the 101st thought it was very effective.

  • Keith Locke

    I think they over thought this. Keep the round and the sighting system, but mate them to a single shot GL Like the old M-79, or the H&K 69……It would shave POUNDS of weight.

    • Bollocks

      True, but then you lose the rangefinder and assistend aiming system they have for it.

      • majr0d

        and half the range which is why we want it to engage the enemy at ranges beyond 300-500m.

      • He just said keep the round and the sighting system!

    • oda513

      Do that and you’ll lose range, accuracy, effectiveness, etc…’ll end up with a heavier, less effective (than XM25) old M-79 or H&K 69

  • Adm

    When are soldiers going to get phasers?

    • Matt R

      Phasers wouldn’t work in defilade either.

  • hunter76

    $55 per round? Surely competitive bidding could bring a better price.

    • Ben

      In the beginning, their best estimates were $35 per round. But considering each round contains high explosives and electronics, $55 is not that unreasonable.

      The units that used it in afghanistan reported that the XM25 scared insurgents so well that engagements that normally would last an average of 30 minutes were reduced to 5-7. If that holds true, the XM25 stands to save a lot of money in other munitions that would have been used up during the long engagements. Not to mention the lives that could be saved by such a reduction.

      In the end, it’s not so bad.

      • XM25 scared insurgents so well? That’s good to hear. I know this uses 25mm shell while ROK’s K11 uses 20mm. I wonder how K11 might perform in real world…

        • Ben

          Considering the fact that the XM25 was used in 9 engagements while firing a total of 55 rounds with only 2 kills (and at least a few suspected injuries), it hasn’t proved to be the most lethal weapon yet. I’m not sure a 20mm warhead would fair any better.

          And to be fair, the lack of kills could simply be attributed to lack of competence with the weapon. 9 firefights with a brand new system isn’t a lot of time to master it.

      • Iknowit

        Mr any cost is ok

    • David

      Actually the rounds cost about $1000! Hand made at the moment.

    • Church

      Thats a great idea, a lower bidder. And you can take it to shithole Provence when your ass is on the FL, knowing your shit was produced by the lowest bidder, especially with airburst muntions

  • TrailMix

    The M32A1 carries 6 rounds of 40mm grenades and weighs around 12lbs unloaded. The M25 carries 4 rounds of 25mm and weighs 14lbs unloaded. I would pass on the air burst for M32.

    The M25 would need higher capacity mags for me hulk this thing around, and I would still need to carry and secondary PDW.

    • John

      The whole point of the M25 is the airburst, giving it a unique capability to hit someone through a window or behind a wall. Something the M32 isn’t capable of, being a direct fire only weapon. So, your comparison of weights and amount of amunition is kind of missing the point.

      • TrailMix

        Everything is a trade off and the M25 so far does not have enough capability to justify itself over something already in use. If the intent is to use the M25 like a sniper rifle, instead of a suppression weapon, then, it is even more useless in the real word. It will actually be used by troops to pepper an area with shrapnel, just like a 40mm.

        In real life, the Taliban rarely shoot from the open, and rarely make easy targets for ground forces, so taking the time to shoot a 25mm round through a window or murder hole is a stretch. And that assumes a specific location is actually identified and occupied at the time for a shot, which rarely happens.

        If the M25 can be a rapid fire saturation weapon, I will be useful.

        • majr0d

          The M25 has a much higher first round hit capability than the 40mm. It has DOUBLE the range. The XM25 uses a magazine while the M32 has to be reloaded like an old colt six shooter pistol and then cranked so the spring has enough energy to cycle rounds. Those are three HUGE advantages over the 40mm grenade and its assorted launchers. We switch battle rifles over much less increases in capability e.g. The M1903 to the M1, the M1 to the M14.

          FYI I’ve heard Marines use the term “Murder Hole” to describe holes the enemy cuts in walls to shoot through. The term is actually loophole. A murder hole was a hole in the ceiling of a castle that targeted a small space defenders must move through top enter the castle proper.

          • JiminUSA

            I think the Marines can call them any damn thing they want LOL

          • majr0d

            Absolutely! I wouldn’t stop anyone from using the wrong term. It’s part of the 1st amendment I’m sure :).

            I’m just talking from a military professional’s perspective. It’s important to use the right term for some but for the average armchair enthusiast it isn’t too important.

            Most Marines I’ve met try and be as technically/tactically proficient as possible.

          • majr0d

            CORRECTION: The XM25 has FOUR times the range engaging point targets over the M203 or M32A1. The XM25 can hit a point target at TWICE the range an M203 or M32 can hit an area target.

            My bad. I forgot the point and area target differences for the 40 mm.

  • amauyong

    Looks a bit like a Bolter from Warhammer 40k.

    If they can use composites to lighten the weopon further..and perhaps reduce the round to a 20 mm…hmmm…

    It is a game changer on a tactical squad level…i wonder if there is already in the pipe-line…a overhead anti-armor cabability against light to medium armor vehicles….

    oh well.

    • Ben

      Have you looked at it? It’s hard to find anything on it that ISN’T made of composite materials.

      25mm hasn’t yet proved to be very lethal in combat. 20mm probably wouldn’t be any more effective. Otherwise, there were ammo types being considered for armor piercing, but none of those were top-attack.

      • Lamar

        It’s not all about lethality of the round itself. If it causes the enemy to react by either fleeing (non-lethal, but gets the end result desired) or scattering into the open, where they can be brought down by direct small-arms fire. Kill count isn’t the measuring stick, and shouldn’t be. Mission completion effectiveness (reduction of time in open conflict, lack of friendly casualties, reduction of overall ammunition usage) is where it should be measured.

        • Ben

          You’re telling me what I just told everyone above. I never discounted the fear-factor, it certainly is valuable. However, it should be able to neutralize whatever it’s shooting at a little more effectively, otherwise you’re just allowing that fleeing enemy to fight another day (which wouldn’t necessarily save ammo or lives in the long run).

          I believe that the XM25 will mature into a great weapon, it just hasn’t reached its full potential quite yet.

          • majr0d

            I’ve seen the results of 25mm HE from a Bradley on the enemy. Don’t worry about lethality.

          • Ben

            In fairness, you can’t really compare a M242 chaingun to a handheld single-fire airburst weapon, even if they do fire the same ammo. The Bradley just tears things apart with high volumes of fire.

          • majr0d

            If I was talking sustained fire on an enemy position I’d agree. I’m talking 1-3 round bursts which is something the XM25 is capable of.

          • d. kellogg

            It’s not the same ammo as a Bradley’s 25mm, just the same caliber.
            It isn’t even the same warhead/projectile length.

            FWIW, the original OICW (Objective Individual Combat Weapon) started out in 20mm format, but the cumbersome nature of a dual-caliber system (it was mated to a 5.56mm AR system) separated the smart grenade launcher from it.
            That Korean contraption: a direct offshoot of the defunct OICW.
            The US development deemed the 20mm smart grenade just didn’t have sufficient lethality: you could have a smart fuze or an effective warhead, but not both.
            So the 25mm became the preferred caliber; oddly enough it was adopted out of the OCSW (Objective Crew Served Weapon), the 25mm smart grenade machine gun, which, despite being 25mm in caliber, did NOT fire the Bradley’s 25mm ammunition.

          • majr0d

            Never said the 25mm of the M242 Bushmaster and the M25 were the same. Considering the Bradley 25mm has SIX times the range of the M25 it’d be expected that the M242 ammo would be bigger. The casings of the two types of ammo are absolutely different but HE rounds depend on their explosive charge not velocity for target effect.

            The warheads are not that different in cubic volume though the M242 HE round is about 2″ longer. Keep in mind the M242 ammo is much more aerodynamically (pointed) shaped and has a longer shaped charge cavity which negatively impacts volume. The greater cavity gives the M242 HE round a much greater armor penetrating capability which isn’t the M25 rounds forte or focus.

            FWIW (and to my point) “Our studies indicate that the XM-25 with HEAB is 300 percent more effective at incapacitating the enemy than current weapons at the squad level.”… The M203, M320 & M32A1 40mm weapon systems are squad level weapons.

          • Joe_Sovereign

            It wasn’t the weight or cumbersome nature of the 20 mm OICW that killed it but the change in caliber. The 5.56 rifle component was always suppose to be changed out with a PDW round and much smaller lighter secondary weapon.

            The change to a multi-shot 25mm weapon just made a dual system impractical. Larger magazines have always been planned as well.

  • Dfens

    Barrett M107A1 .50 cal BMG with 29″ fluted barrel and Leupold scope – $14,769.00
    Match ammo $5.95/round
    enough said.

  • SJE

    “The Punisher” : is it punishing the enemy or the poor grunt carrying it?

  • oblatt1

    Its knows as “the punishment” in the field for the poor guy carrying it.

    Because the troops think its rubbish and refuse to carry it, its been proven to be ineffective and it costs way too much means its time for production. The contractor has waited to long already time for them to start cashing in.

  • joe

    The XM-25 is alot more effective than firing off thousands of .223 rounds at a mud wall all day and hitting NOTHING.

    Some American troops now days whine and complain way too much. In WW2 or Korea if you were ordered to take a certain weapon with you on a mission and you said no the sarge would probably shove it up your ass.

  • hibeam

    The barallel of the X-25 Should be the snout of the Robot Dog. Sic em! Some day soon.

    • anonamous

      yes, that platform is the only way forward. and even more adaptive tracking and engaging tech will allow us to run through our enemies!

  • After watching combat videos, many on….Military.Com I have concluded;
    Most soldiers do what they have always done, shoot blindly in the general direction of a target. Marines, who are supposed to be marksmen, are only marginally better.

    If suppressive fire is not to cover an attack (never shown on the videos) or to prevent the enemy from flanking, probably unlikely, why make holes in the air?

    Therefore; a specialized weapon requiring judicious application and that actually kills, or injures the enemy thus necessitating them providing health-care, seems like a cost effective way of making modern warfare.

  • AW

    The XM25 is a precision grenade launcher intended to neutralize defilade point targets. These rounds can be delivered to within a meter or two of a target making the smaller grenade quite effective. Its primary value is that it robs an enemy of their protection while behind a wall, in a ditch, or below a roof ledge. Enemy snipers and riflemen can’t hang back and causally take pot shots and expect to go unchallenged. They get no place to hide and recover in a pitched battle. Once they are located they must continue to maneuver or withdrawal. The punisher strikes back at the ‘campers’. If not killed outright, a badly mangled foe is driven to seek a different location.

    It’s nice to know the price is coming down. I thought the estimated cost of the earliest rounds was just under $1000 a shot. It would being nice if it was lighter in weight but there is nothing like this in any armed service. Bring it.

    • oblatt1

      Yea that’s why the XM25 is a big hit in video games. But in the real world the soldiers don’t need a marginal capability that is hardly ever used. The troops are voting with their feet and selecting a normal grenade launcher as more useful.

      One must never forget the contempt contractors have for the troops in the field who get in the way of their profits.

  • uzijohn

    Perhaps the “Punisher” didn’t get it’s name for being so lethal?

    If I had to lug a 14 pound weapon, plus ammo and a pack for miles up and down
    the hills in Afghanistan I’d sure feel like I was being “punished” all right…

    • Jim37F

      So I guess you’ve never carried s SAW or a 240?

    • Dfens

      They should call it the Pussier.

  • DRW

    it’s lighter than the s*@$ I use to carry.

  • Edward55


    One again a ‘solution in search of a problem’ situation. I was in the US Army for many years and this is one of the least inspired weapons to emerge out of the Army Labs without the consultation from its inspiration day through folding. Most Ordnance experts are not ‘weapons experts’ and are merely assigned to the Ordnance Corps as an assignment option, not the best qualification for becoming a small arms expert.

    Back to the XM25 failure- 1) Too damn heavy, no one wants to humps this POS around
    2) Not enough ammunition can be carried to make this a sustainable combat carried weapon; 3) It is too specialized for general issue, hence in that special case when it might have use, it will probably not be there (like a flamethrower in WW II- a special issue weapon)_; 4) Maintenance will be high in terms of skilled armorers and parts will be expensive. BOTTOM LINE: WE need John Moses Browning back, we have not have great small arms since he and Eugene Stoner left this world (Beretta is a piece of junk; M249 and M240 MGs are both foreign design), the M2 still lingers on faithfully..

    • Mark

      Unit armorers will have no issues maintaining the weapon. I use to carry the receiver for the 50 cal plus all normal rucksack gear and all the spare parts for the arms room when I was in the service. 14 pounds is nothing. Quit whining about it to all those who are.

  • Big Daddy

    $55 for a round that does not have enough explosive or anti-personnel capability to defeat enemy, just chase them away. This is perfect for the new Army of don’t kill your enemy just hurt his feelings so he can come back and kill you at a later date.

    • blight_

      I’m sure they said the same about using a bow and arrow instead of a manly throwing axe…

    • Dfens

      Hell, with this he might get some dirt in his eye and be out of the battle for a good hour. That’s probably longer than a through and through with a .22 round would hold him down.

  • Bill Tolle

    I don’t understandwhy we don’t use the AK47 like the rest of the world. It is cheap and easy to manufacture and very effective.

  • SJE

    M25 makes a lot more sense for mechanized infrantry, as an add on.

  • citanon

    The M25 will be a new tool for the grunt. It will not be essential for _every_ situation, but it may be valuable for a _lot_ of situations.

    Sure it’s not a perfect weapon, but at these prices there’s no sense in letting perfect get in the way of the good.

    There hasn’t been a big change in infantry weapons in a long time. It’s worth while to get them out into the field and see what our soldiers will do with them.

  • Robert M. Noonan

    Sounds like a pack mortar.

  • Brian
  • Brian
  • gordon

    bring it on , rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it. I humped “THE PIG” in nam ,night ambush 101st abn.

  • Stratia69

    I had two of the four that currently exist in my company in Afghanistan; while heavy, limited ammo capacity may be minuses….this weapon is very effective at what it is designed for and i saw my platoons engage enemy successfully and instilling total fear into them because they had not place to hide. and delayed detonation into windows unleashed hell too.

  • top dog

    Thats normal, the X is always removed once the weapon is fielded, or issued to the troops.

  • Bo victery

    we Must listen to the Users!!! not the Makers

  • Ralph

    . . . meanwhile. . . thousands of armchair military nerds across america simultaneously google search the definition of “defilade”

  • John M. Barr

    What a waste of money. That’s what grenades and 40mm rounds are for. No soldier is going to want to lug around such a limited use weapon.

  • dave

    oh wait till the neighbors see me with this one


    This is a useful tool for a number of real reasons. Many forget that in early days in S. Viet Nam, Marine grunts had to haul around a 90mm recoil-less rifle on patrol. One grunt for each half of the gun and one or two grunts with 3rounds strapped to their backs. AND, they didn’t carry Mattel toy rifles either, but 10lbs. loaded weight M-14’s!!!!

    I agree with a writer above though, maybe 40mm sgl round weapon might be better. The old M79’s were very damn useful! I carried one, along with a grease gun!!!! OMG YOU BOYS WOULD LAUGH AT THE WEAPONS WE HAD IN 1966!

  • LarryW

    Just found this article and the comments while checking on the status of the XM25, and find the comments interesting because…

    I supported a DSB meeting on urban combat in 1984, and scribbled out a number of operational concepts as guys who had “been there” described some of their predicaments as commanding officers.

    A Marine who had been at Hue told how difficult it had been to dislodge the enemy from inside buildings and behind walls. So I drew out a stick-figure sequence showing the basic operational scheme of (1) ranging on the structure, (2) calibrating an explosive round to detonate just beyond the structure, and (3) aiming at a point that would take the round past the obstruction where it would detonate and eliminate the concealed enemy.

    Some months later the program I managed in the company where I worked received a requirement to develop a concept for a system to replace the M16/M203. I assigned the task to a researcher in the company, and described the idea I had run by the DSB.

    This led to the XM29, and the rest is history.

    Those who follow the evolution of weaponry more closely than I do can recount how difficult it is to develop and introduce new devices along with tactics and doctrine to take best advantage of operational advances.

    Nonetheless, the operational advantages of the XM25-style system apparently appeal to enough of the tacticians that they think it belongs in the inventory. Like any piece of equipment, trade-offs will have to be made in order to minimize its hindrance to the soldier yet have it available at the point where it might make a critical difference in an engagement.

  • Karl Yetter

    Like any new weapons system. Some will swear by it. While others will swear at. I think it does have a use full purpose in some some types of engagements.

  • hafoc01

    It seems to this armchair Rambo that the M25 has some pros and cons, just like any weapon system. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution out there, but a man-portable counter defilade weapon sounds pretty useful.

    I’d expect over time the overall weight of the system will come down– my guess is that the FC system & on-board electronics contribute significantly to overall weight. As battery tech and the size/weight/power requirements of the FC system improve, future models should be lighter.

    As to the single-purpose ammunition, I wonder if other ammo for direct fire couldn’t be developed for this platform– HE, HE/AP, flechette/submunition, etc. Possibly the space used for the fusing electronics could be utilized for more explosives or another payload. Since it’s magazine fed, the M25 gunner could just swap out the HEAB ammo for a different type as needed. Of course, that could increase the load carried by the warfighter(s), but the increase in flexibility might make a worthwhile trade-off. If you think of the M25 as a platform for precision fire using 25mm ammo, the possibilites expand well beyond counter-defilade.

  • espesyal na pangkat

    so what will be the civilian version of this in the states called?

  • Rus

    The use scenario for the XM25 is very limited; Hostiles behind walls seems to be it. The sighting system exposes the user too long and too much for combat. The heft, limited firepower, and losing a rifleman for a limited use grenadier when the M16A4 already has a builtin grenade capability make it redundant from the get go.

    They could and should develop a 40mm “airbusrt” round for the standard weapon anybody could use in the squad…. everybody could carry one or two of these rounds and it would suffice. AT A LOT LESS WEIGHT, MONEY, TIME AND BOTHER.

    HOW IT WOULD WORK: the rounds have a distance setting on the warhead that could be manually set. A standard rangefinder or best guess would give you the distance…. soldier sets the grenade and shoots. Maybe it would take a couple tries but someone in the squad always develops a knack for this type of thing.

  • lambda5555m

    Nanotechnology will make it smaller, lighter, and more effective. There will be small remote controlled cargo carriers that will be able to follow the grunts around with things that are too heavy to carry for long distances. It just takes time to create something that works the way we want unfortunately. Contractors make the process of getting a weapon like this completely ridiculous as they are just after the money. Hopefully, budget cuts will not degrade out capabilities to field the most technological and deadly weapons on the battlefield.

  • Brian B. Mulholland

    The poster who remarked that this might be best suited to mechanized infantry has a nice point.

    I watched footage of Marines fighting in an Iraqi cemetery (Fallujah?) with insurgents popping in and out of tombs with a veteran of earlier Marine service. We were musing over how useful it would be to have a smart grenade that could be fired into an opening and detonate just short of an interior wall. Rus, we’re probably going to do fighting in urban environments for a long time to come. Something that flies into a window, or skims the top of a roof and detonates on the rooftop, sounds almighty useful to me – admittedly a career civilian.

  • pyrojohnny

    as cool as this can be, take the weight off the soliders. have the new “mules” carry in a pack (100+)of micro quad copters armed with 4oz of HE, and one high flying control unit with IR-NV to find targets. Use exsisting swarm tech to send 2 or 3 MQC at each attacker. detonate on contact. the shotgun effect over the wall at where he just popped his head up is cool, but. accurate elims from a mile or more away is far more effective. coould even use tranqs for non lethal supression

  • Rangerray

    perhaps using as a support weapon, much like an AT Section or a 60m mortar squad.