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US Army Unveils 'Revolutionary' $35,000 Rifle

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-even-have-this-in-video-games dept.

The Military 782

rbrander writes "Don't call it a 'rifle,' call it the 'XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System' and get your $35,000 worth. Much more than a projector of high-speed lead, this device hurls small grenades that automatically detonate in mid-flight with 1-meter accuracy over nearly 800m. The vital field feature is the ability to explode 1m behind the wall you just lazed — the one with the enemy hiding behind it."

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Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383756)

You always have to hope that an improvement like this actually does allow the soldiers to better target the real bad guys and not civilians as well as protect themselves from compromising situations. I'm not impressed with the distance the bullet can travel, it's my understanding that in Iraq and cities of Afghanistan, the battles are complex urban battles in buildings and areas that are high in civilian population and also human made nooks and crannies. It's not a question of being able to pick your assailant off from a distance of 8 football fields but rather being able to successfully target multiple combatants who are firing sporadically from housing windows in complex structures down on you and then disappearing deep far back into the structure. At least that's how video games and news stories portray it: urban guerrilla warfare.

I'm also a little cautious on the Fox News reporting. It sounds too good to be true. The price sounds okay, an M16 can cost up to $28,000 and frankly I'd rather hit the taxpayers than cause more deaths. I fear that there may be more serious hidden costs like this little gem:

Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile

Computer chips are cheap but if you're putting clip after clip of bullets out during an intense firefight, I'm going to guess that on that last clip or magazine you wished that you had opted for more 'dumb bullets' versus less chipped bullets. I guess the proposed scenario makes it sound like only select fighters will have this weapon in each unit.

A patrol encounters an enemy combatant in a walled Afghan village who fires an AK-47 intermittently from behind cover, exposing himself only for a brief second to fire.

Again, that's assuming that you have the correct wall, the combatant hasn't fallen back into another building waiting to ambush you on the inside and also hoping they're not housed with women and children, as I've heard is often the case.

Sounds like a really great and innovative improvement for select uses but I really gotta question the 'game-changer' assertion. If I woke up tomorrow and found out that deployment of this weapon allowed the precise termination of all combatants with no civilian casualties and the war was basically over, I'd be happy for being wrong.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383812)

The price sounds okay, an M16 can cost up to $28,000 and frankly I'd rather hit the taxpayers than cause more deaths.

FYI, a non-transferable M16 (that is, not for regular-old-civilian purchase) costs something around $800-$1000, not the $28k you mention.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (3, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383932)

The price sounds okay, an M16 can cost up to $28,000 and frankly I'd rather hit the taxpayers than cause more deaths.

FYI, a non-transferable M16 (that is, not for regular-old-civilian purchase) costs something around $800-$1000, not the $28k you mention.

True that. Someone looked in shotgun news and assumed that there were no other factors pushing up the civilian price.

Basically, look at the lowest price you can find on a reputable AR-15, then take 10-20% off of that to estimate what the government is paying.

LK

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383992)

Basically, look at the lowest price you can find on a reputable AR-15, then take 10-20% off of that to estimate what the government is paying.

Sounds like you two know a hell of a lot more about pricing on assault rifles than I ever will.

Basically, I treated it like everything else the government buys for me with my money: I googled it, found the highest price and then added about 100-200% for an estimate. Guess it doesn't transfer well to all military expenditures.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (2, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384178)

The basic M16 is well under a thousand dollars. But a fully tricked-out M16, with a range-finding night vision scope mounted on it, costs a lot more than a basic M16! On the gripping hand, not many troops get the fully tricked-out version.

I read some articles about the OICW, and I was dubious about the cost. Some OICW apologists argued that it wasn't really going to be that much more expensive than the M16, and they used the most expensive M16 numbers they could find. IIRC it was on the order of $10,000 or more.

Also, I wonder how the price of $35,000 is being computed. If they are amortizing the R&D costs for two decades of research, that would tend to make the weapon look more expensive. I doubt that the manufacturing cost is that high. But I'm not an expert.

Hmmm, for what it's worth: Wikipedia projects the cost per weapon at $25,000.

steveha

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (4, Interesting)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383872)

Rounds are going to be relatively expensive yes, but it's not as if you fire the thing full auto.

How it changes the game in that enemies behind hard cover - who might otherwise engage you in a protracted firefight - will lose the benefit of that cover.

It's in service now with the 101st airborne apparently, so I'm sure we'll shortly find out whether it's the exceptionally useful tool it appears to promise to be.

Does it Jam in Hot Dusty Conditions? (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383950)

Slashdot is hardly the only news source with Slashvertisements - Fox is big on them as well, and the military-industrial complex just loves that kind of thing. And some high-tech weapons are actually effective, while some fail badly in real environments; back during Vietnam, US Army rifles would jam a lot, while AK47s that were dirt-cheap to make usually didn't, even though they weren't as accurate.

Re:Does it Jam in Hot Dusty Conditions? (5, Informative)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384088)

That's true to some extent (especially where aircraft are concerned), but the rifle analogy is not quite correct.

In Vietnam, American troops were armed with the recently-developed M-16, early versions of which frequently jammed. They jammed because the rifle was prototyped using ammunition packed with pellet-shaped nitrocellulose gunpowder (which worked fine in bad conditions), but mass-produced using stick-type nitrocellulose/nitrogylcerin gunpowder (which fouled the barrel if the weapon was not cleaned regularly). The lack of cleaning supplies and instructions for troops didn't help matters either.

Once this design flaw was identified, the powder was changed, the barrel was lined with chrome, and troops were given instructions and tools to clean the weapons. Afterward, they became much more reliable in jungle conditions.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383902)

Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile

People don't kill people. Bullets kill people. Or is it bullet programmers that kill people? This is only going to get more confusing, folks.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384038)

Guns don't kill people, death kills people. You can die of major hemorrhage or organ failure, but a small piece of metal ain't the problem. Besides, I only use my machine gun in the safety of my home and car, I ain't hurting nobody.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

mb1 (966747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384082)

Don't laze me bro, don't laze me...

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383906)

...hope that an improvement like this actually does allow the soldiers to better target the real bad guys and not civilians as well as protect themselves from compromising situations.

You know, from the description it seems that this weapon is fabulous at killing people who are hiding behind cover when there's some shooting nearby, people which can't be seen clearly...

Even is those will be enemy combatants often enough, that still doesn't preclude nearby civilians as you point out later.

Killing people seldom Ends the Fighting (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384004)

Sure, sometimes you can kill all your enemies without making far more of them in the process; that occasionally even works when two governments are fighting each other. But if people are fighting you because they're pissed off that you're invading their country and attacking their culture and you killed their cousin, killing them is just going to get more people with dead cousins pissed off at you.

Re:Killing people seldom Ends the Fighting (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384124)

The Taliban in Afghanistan have it easier.

When in doubt, kill the ones in US military uniforms. If nobody in target area is wearing a US military uniform, kill the white or black guys, and avoid killing the brown ones wearing shalwar kameez.

Whereas the US troops just have to kill the wrong person and turns out the whole village is related to him/her, either by blood or by marriage. I think they've screwed up too many times already. And genocide is not a viable option for the USA.

Re:Killing people seldom Ends the Fighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384146)

Guess what, people die in a war.

Here's a crazy idea; don't open fire on a US patrol.

Re:Killing people seldom Ends the Fighting (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384254)

heres a crazy idea; war sucks, lets stop spending so much on it

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384016)

Afghanistan and Iraq are, tactically, very different. In afghanistan you're regularly seeing engagement ranges (sniping basically) of ~2Km, Iraq that happens, but you're mostly seeing more 300m engagement range. The relatively close quarters stuff is happening in afghanistan too though. 800m seems like a good number, it's probably not all that hard to make one that does 800m or 300m effectively, but to do much more than that gets dicey, and it's about on par with the trusty ole m16. It's almost certainly designed for far more than just Iraq and Afghanistan too. How much use it would have in North korea is anyone's guess, but there are a lot of potential hot spots in the world, and weapon designers are trying to be prepared for all of them.

I would think you're right, a weapon like this is a one a squad or 1 a platoon, not one per soldier. But a typical soldier only carries about 300 rounds, you're not exactly spraying ammo like crazy with 300 rounds, and if they're specialized rounds, on a specialist, well, you don't need as many of them. Literally it's the same sort of thing as smart bombs, the munition itself costs more (sometimes a LOT more) but if you actually hit what you're shooting at it makes up for it.

Last I checked the unit replacement cost on the m16 is about $600, I'm not an american, nor do I own an m16 but my understanding is the civilian version is several thousands of dollars, but the AR15 (the semi auto only version) is only about 500 bucks, so I would say they're actually in the 500-600 dollar range. I'm not sure it's entirely fair to compare that to a XM25 though, they're new, which makes them expensive, and 35k isn't really a lot of money if it gets you out of fights faster (or more to the point keeps your guys from getting killed more).

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384182)

How much use it would have in North korea is anyone's guess...

Probably relatively little, at least when compared to South Korean [wikipedia.org] , ~3x less expensive, mostly equivalent weapon that's in service (might even be used more in Afghanistan already)

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384046)

The XM25, if it's the same one that I've read about, only uses microchips in the grenades, not in the bullets. If you've played a modern-combat FPS, you know that you don't just spam the underslung grenade launcher, because you can't carry more than a handful of rounds for it. If it actually makes it into production (I highly doubt it, since the US military seems paralyzed when it comes to infantry weapons - just look how long it took to replace the M1911), it will be useful for urban combat, trench combat, maybe even anti-vehicle uses, but it won't be revolutionary.

It's also not news. A relatively similar weapon, the OICW, predates the War on Terror - I first learned of it because it was in the beta version of Half-Life 2, a game that came out 6 years ago. Hell, the basic principle is practically ancient - the Soviets made prototypes of an AK74 with such a grenade launcher, albeit without the complicated microchip fuse.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384060)

Again, that's assuming that you have the correct wall, the combatant hasn't fallen back into another building waiting to ambush you on the inside and also hoping they're not housed with women and children, as I've heard is often the case.

Again, assuming the enemy isn't firing nerf bullets or the wielder isn't reacting to firecrackers....what's the assertion in these statements? They are pointless and inflammatory. When you're carrying this weapon, it's pretty safe to assume you're firing to kill the badguys before they kill you and to keep the weapon out of their hands. You hope for the best, but by the time this bad boy is out of the holster, you're past 2nd guessing.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (2, Insightful)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384066)

"target the real bad guys and not civilians"

That would be a pretty advanced AI, seeing as the distinction is quite blurry for humans, especially politicians, soldiers, and probably the "real bad guys" themselves.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384072)

Tell you what, you pay for these with your taxes. I'm sick of subsidizing the military-welfare complex.

And like all weapons it is the civilians who pay in the end as always. They'll just spay the area like they usually do.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384096)

You'd rather spend more money on weapons of death than cause more deaths....................... I see.

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

smitty97 (995791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384186)

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
        Dwight D. Eisenhower, From a speech before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

Re:Hope It Helps End the Fighting (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384236)

You know, that's actually quite hilarious in the context of, supported by him, Iranian coup d'etat which happened only few months later (or other CIA sponsored coup d'etat actions generally)

Really? (1)

libalj (1901782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383774)

Who else saw this on the Discovery channel about a Decade ago? I bet most everyone.

Well for one, (0, Redundant)

psithurism (1642461) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383798)

I didn't.

Re:Really? (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383840)

The point is that it's out of the development/prototype phase and now into actual deployment. It's not new, it's just new to the field. I don't know specifically about the XM25 but a lot of places experimenting with new weapons have been concerned about the mass, and desert (i.e. heat and sand) performance, which delayed them somewhat.

Re:Really? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384086)

it's out of the development/prototype phase and now into actual deployment.

Not if it's still the XM25.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383878)

Me! I saw it.
FN F2000 [wikipedia.org]
It was in Splinter Cell as the SC-20K [wikia.com] too.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383888)

I certainly remember seeing it, although I recall it being on a larger rifle.

Re:Really? (1)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384024)

Perhaps you're thinking of the XM29 OICW? That's where I first saw this concept, back in the 90s. Apparently they scrapped the dual weapon concept (rifle + grenade launcher) and just kept the interesting bit that goes boom.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383908)

Just because something is shown on the discovery channel doesn't make it a production model (or real). Alot of concepts shown on TV and at trade shows etc. don't make it to production for years, or ever.

TFA even states that it's been in development for around seven years. So you apparently saw it on the Discovery channel 3 years before development started.

Battlefield 2142 Assault kit rockets (1, Interesting)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383804)

I've been using these for years to rape snipers and campers. One of the most versatile weapons in the game.

Re:Battlefield 2142 Assault kit rockets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383938)

This was my first thought, I think you deserve more than a 2

Forget the cost of the gun (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383806)

how much is the cost of the ammo?

"Once the trigger is pulled and the round leaves the barrel, a computer chip inside the projectile communicates exactly how far it has traveled"

That doesn't sound cheap at all.

Re:Forget the cost of the gun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383870)

It's very expensive:

Lehner said he expects other nations will try to copy its technology, but it will be very cost-prohibitive.

Re:Forget the cost of the gun (2, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383946)

The United States is leveraging its ultimate secret weapon: Deficit Spending!

Re:Forget the cost of the gun (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384116)

Lehner said he expects other nations will try to copy its technology, but it will be very cost-prohibitive.

Russians work for vodka and black bread; they'll have an inferior but good-enough weapon out in 2 years.

Re:Forget the cost of the gun (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384256)

Koreans already have quite comparable weapon [wikipedia.org] in service, apparently ~3 less expensive.

Re:Forget the cost of the gun (5, Insightful)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383976)

OTOH, a majority of ammunition fired from automatic weapons in combat is used in suppressing fire. I've heard an official figure of tens of thousands of rounds fired per confirmed kill. Even if a single 5.56mm is cheap, ten thousand of them ain't.

Suppressing fire, for those who don't want to go google it, is firing on the enemy's position to keep them "suppressed", i.e. scared shitless and behind cover. Or, put another way, if you can keep firing on them, they won't be able to return fire on you without sticking their heads out into a blizzard of incoming lead. An application of the principle that the best defence is a good offence. Most of those shots won't actually hit any enemy targets, because a sensible opponent will stay out of the line of fire for as long as the suppression is maintained.

Obviously, this costs a ton and a half of ammunition, which adds up in cost, and raises the risk of hitting other targets downrange (like civilians or friendly soldiers). A weapon that allows you to eliminate an opponent in cover with a single (expensive) shot might actually be cheaper, and certainly would be more precise, reducing the risk of collateral damage.

just found a way to balance the US budget (-1, Offtopic)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383808)

dump all these unnecessary defense spending boon doggles and get out of Afghanistan.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (-1, Offtopic)

jcr (53032) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383858)

That won't quite do it, unfortunately. The entire military budget isn't even half of what our government spends.

-jcr

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383894)

It's a good start.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (0, Troll)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383996)

I count the billions in narcotics trafficking by our CIA to fund the things our Congress won't touch. Apparently, you don't.

Our U.S. soldiers are guarding narcotics fields in Afghanistan.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384070)

Even assuming that you aren't a loon, if we didn't invade Afghanistan, the CIA would not bring in that revenue, pushing down your savings number.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384136)

Since when do you need to cut the budget in half to accomplish anything?

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (1)

DamienRBlack (1165691) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384140)

Getting rid of "less than half" of what the government spends would be more than enough to balance the budget. Balancing the budget isn't the same as not spending anything.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383860)

dump all these unnecessary defense spending boon doggles

Nonsense.

and get out of Afghanistan.

No.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384092)

dump all these unnecessary defense spending boon doggles

Nonsense.

Au contraire.

and get out of Afghanistan.

No.

Yes.

Re:just found a way to balance the US budget (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384252)

Brilliant. Maybe we can find other people to surrender to, also. Think of the savings!

   

Defilade (2, Informative)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383822)

defilade |defld; defld| Military

noun
the protection of a position, vehicle, or troops against enemy observation or gunfire.

Re:Defilade (5, Funny)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384130)

I've found it amusing how much French there is in the military shibboleth/jargon. No one bothered renaming defilade as "freedom cover".

Just like BF2142 (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383826)

I remember the assault class in Battlefield 2142, having a rocket addon that essentially did the same thing. You scoped the cover your enemy was hiding behind to set the distance, and then add a meter or how far you need to it via the scroll wheel on the mouse, then launch the rockets which air burst at the set distance. Terrible devastating in game, I can imagine it's as or more effective in the real world.

Yeah... (0)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383830)

Don't call it a rifle - because it's a grenade launcher?

Re:Yeah... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384144)

If it has a rifled barrel, and it's a "small arm" then it's a rifle.

Maybe it's a grenade launching rifle?

Not so sure... (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383836)

The cool factor for this is very high, but so is the cost. I'm not sure it's okay that a solider could be out there wielding a rifle that is worth more than his yearly salary.

Re:Not so sure... (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383900)

Why? As another poster pointed out an M-16 can approach 30k as it is. Also their gear is really not cheap. All in all it costs far more than their salary to equip a soldier, never mind the costs of training them.

Re:Not so sure... (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384156)

As another poster pointed out an M-16 can approach 30k as it is.

Don't believe everything you read on /.

Re:Not so sure... (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383916)

I'm not sure it's okay that a solider could be out there wielding a rifle that is worth more than his yearly salary.

Equipment is cheap, training is expensive.

Re:Not so sure... (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384126)

You mean like those fighter pilots who fly planes worth about 500x their salary?

35K... (0, Redundant)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383838)

TFS

call it the 'XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System' and get your $35,000 worth

35 K for the rifle... how much per ammunition round?

Guess is safer to ask first, last time it happened to me when I bought an inkjet printer.

Re:35K... (0, Troll)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384164)

Redundant, huh?
Guess yet another mod that likes paying taxes in an undisclosed amount, if possible in a supplier lock-in situation.

*sigh* (0)

drDugan (219551) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383848)

I know it's trite, but violence really isn't the answer. It has dramatic effects, and short terms it gets one ahead, but more often then not it causes more violence and hate back on the initiator.

While in a dangerous world, with dangerous people all around, having a military is essential, we also need to be spending much more on making the world a safer place with diplomacy and solutions, not with better and bigger weapons and endless wars.

Re:*sigh* (1)

pookemon (909195) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383948)

Tell that to the Taliban.

Peace through excessive violence.

Re:*sigh* (1)

joelleo (900926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384266)

btw Pookemon you spelt "dyslexia" wrong in your sig.

=)

Re:*sigh* (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384152)

Sometimes I think that the US is midway through an attempt to shoot the moon in the category of international hatred.

Good Grief How Long (1)

bebee (1949938) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383854)

Folks if we have this in our hands now doesn't it beg the question of "how long will it be before the enemy has it too?"? In which case it becomes a genuine game changer and perhaps we won't need them any more! Or perhaps we simply demolish each other and go up in smoke together. How does our military decide which soldiers will carry and use these weapons? How will they debrief them when their tour of duty is over? I see a ton of questions for each remarkable comment they have made about how much more effective our troops will be in the field.

Re:Good Grief How Long (1)

RsG (809189) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384142)

Folks if we have this in our hands now doesn't it beg the question of "how long will it be before the enemy has it too?"?

Well, to answer that question, ask yourself who the enemy is and what sort of weapons they have now.

If we're using Iraq and Afghanistan as our examples, the "enemy" is a bunch of locals with very little by way of military resources, whose current stock of weapons are either A) homemade, i.e. IEDs or B) designed in what was once the Soviet Union, i.e. rifles like the AK-47 and missile launchers like the RPG-7. Weapons that are more than one technological generation behind the curve in other words. So, no, I wouldn't worry about them getting ahold of current generation NATO military hardware, since they don't even have anything from the last generation.

If the "enemy" in your question is a developing nation like North Korea or Iran, then you're still looking at military tech a generation or so behind the curve, albeit superior to what the Taliban has. Remember, you need an entire logistical support chain to maintain and supply your forces, and if you don't have the manufacturing capability to fabricate parts and ammo for a weapon, you won't bother using it.

China is the only nation with sufficient resources to field current generation military tech that isn't a military ally of the US. And they are perfectly capable of doing their own R&D if they choose to, meaning they're not dependant on hand-me-downs from more developed nations. They might reverse engineer US military hardware given the opportunity, but since it is singularly unlikely the US and China will ever go to war, it's hard to consider them "the enemy", per your argument.

Horatio Caine says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383862)

Using this weapon *sunglasses* ought to be a blast.

YEAAAAAAAAH!

I'd like one... but too pricey. (1)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383876)

I see that there's chips in the exploding projectiles. That's very awesome, that basically allows you to more or less fire into a specific area without needing full (or even partial) visibility of the target.

Which raises my concern - shootin' off silicon explodey is awesome on paper and in Halo, but now we're talking deadly force on a target that we may not have completely identified. I can see where this helps our soldiers avoid being shot at, but I can also see where this decrease in need of visual confirmation of the target could result in higher civilian casualties.

Regardless... I'd love to fire one. Heheheheheheheheheh.

What could possibly go wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383882)

$35k vs a much cheaper AK47... yup, asymmetric warfare wins again. Whee.

My only problem with this... (2, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383886)

If they have zero chance against us on the battle field, they'll shift the focus of their attacks. Namely, more terrorist attacks. IEDs, roadside bombs and attacks on American civilians.

LK

Re:My only problem with this... (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384044)

Hm yes, when I read the article saying "this completely changes tactics forever", all I thought was that "baddies are going to hole up in occupied residences with children". They're already doing that, and it turns out we're quite good at killing civilians that way.

Target Engagement System (1)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383892)

Seriously dudes... "gun".

Wow... (1)

Nocuous (1567933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383928)

That's a big fucking gun!

Yet they still use the m16? (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 3 years ago | (#34383988)

They have spent so much on this weapon and yet their standard issue rifle is horrible compared to more modern (hell even three decades ago) weapons.

Wow, cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383990)

Man this is REVOLUTIONARY. This shit is so brand new that... Oh, wait. Nevermind. I saw this gun on Superweapons months and months ago. Last year even.

Not field strippable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34383994)

I hope the version pictured is a prototype. That cast exterior doesn't bode well for the ability of soldiers to perform field maintenance. Fat lot of good your super-gun will do if it gets its works gunked up after a day in the field and can only be serviced by shipping it back to the manufacturer.

How many AK-47s is that? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384014)

I wonder how many AK-47s one can buy for the price of one of these toys?

Re:How many AK-47s is that? (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384040)

117 Yugoslav AKs at $300 each, including parts kit.

Re:How many AK-47s is that? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384058)

You don't understand the real metric at play here....

How much does it cost to kill an enemy with today's hardware? How much will it cost with this new hardware?

You may be able to buy a few hundred AKs with the same money but if the same money kills more enemies and saves more allied lives it is worth it.

Countries that don't worry about high tech normally don't care about the lives of their people since they see them as fodder. A dead American soldier costs more than this weapon.

Re-evaluate your metric.

get ready for more friendly fire/collateral damage (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384030)

so you're firing on a target you can't see...I'd bet money that in many cases the target won't even be properly identified...somebody will be fired upon...see somebody "gophering" at a window...and promptly kill an innocent family in a house...we'll hear about it from wikileaks in 2014...

more useful against us... (3, Interesting)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384064)

Wouldn't this weapon be more useful against an occupying force, than for them? That is, wouldn't urban "insurgents" have more and faster access to mostly-enclosed structures, while the occupiers would tend more to ad-hoc cover?

I suspect that we may regret introducing this, once it's copied and sold cheap by certain other nations which will go unnamed... Maybe it'll give us the advantage in a burned-out dust bowl like Afghanistan, but it would hurt us somewhere like Iraq.

Please correct me, I'm just a cynical jerk, not a tactician.

OICW (5, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384080)

I'm not an expert on military stuff, but I have been interested in this and I have read articles about it over the years.

This came out of research that started many years ago, the OICW [wikipedia.org] program.

The original vision was that every soldier might get a fancy grenade launcher like this as his/her primary weapon. But you don't dare use a grenade if an enemy is at very close range (perhaps attacking with something as simple as a pointed stick), so the OICW was supposed to have a close-range, defensive capacity: a "kinetic energy" weapon, i.e., bullets. The result was a heavy, complex, expensive weapon that didn't make anyone happy.

But I guess the research to produce the fancy grenade launcher paid off, and here is the result.

I was always troubled by the 25mm projectile size. Can a 25mm projectile contain enough explosives to produce the desired effect when it air-bursts? I guess so, if they are deploying it.

For general issue, it will continue to be the M16 family for the foreseeable future. I have read the occasional article about the military starting to wish it had a rifle of intermediate calibre between the 5.56mm of the M16 and the 7.62mm used before the M16. In desert engagements, ranges might be farther than the M16 can comfortably handle; in jungle terrain, foliage can sometimes deflect the 5.56 bullet. But nobody wants to try to generally issue the 7.62 mm again, as it has much more recoil than the 5.56, and it would be a pain to introduce some sort of new ammo.

But now this new, fancy grenade launcher looks like it shall fill in the gap: it shoots a relatively massive projectile at up to 500 metres point effect, and up to 1000 meters area effect (source: Wikipedia). The ammo will be much more expensive than 5.56 ammo, and it will need batteries and special training besides; but if it really works as promised, it should be very cost-effective. (Even if you spent many dollars in ammo on attacking the enemy, if it decisively stops the attack from the enemy before he inflicts casualties, you have come out ahead.)

As I said, I am no kind of expert and I welcome corrections if I said anything wrong here.

steveha

Alternative headline (1)

lilfields (961485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384090)

Military unveils world's ugliest gun, which hopes to deter people from buying them.

In State Capitalist Russia (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384108)

wall explode around you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AGS-17 [wikipedia.org]
With 30 rounds of linked ammunition Soviet-designed automatic grenade launcher has range of 1700 m.
Not as sexy as the US version but wall, village and enemy combatants cannot hide.

Half a billion dollars (2, Insightful)

stomv (80392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384128)

According to TFA, the US Army is going to shell out over $400,000,000 on these guns. Each shell (?) has a computer chip; they aren't pennies apiece.

Meanwhile, we keep hearing about an overwhelming debt and how we'll need to cut social security benefits, cut energy R&D, cut mass transit investments, cut unemployment benefits. But we've got enough money to provide a tax cut for those making $250,000+, and we've got enough money for yet another BFG.

I love my country despite it's terrible collective decision making skills.

Correct perspective: This is a cost SAVINGS device (5, Insightful)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384134)

We've been taking out enemies in cover with TOW missiles. They cost $180,000 each, and you need to fire two to make sure a building is clear. This weapon costs 1/5 the price of a SINGLE TOW missile, is reusable and man portable. This means no need for an attack helicopter ($3000 or more per HOUR to FLY) AT4 Rocket is $1500 each use, and causes too much damage in urban fighting. This is the field mortar evolved, and it will change combat forever.

It reminds me of this... (1)

no1nose (993082) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384168)

...the pulse rifle from Aliens: http://bit.ly/dIzPZj [bit.ly]

Gatling, the Dentist (4, Insightful)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384172)

You're aware that Mr Gatling, a dentist by trade, designed the crank machine gun in the hope that it would end wars and killing... how'd that work out?

As a person who hates noobtubers in FPS's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384174)

FUCK!

Costs + "How Revolutionary?" (5, Informative)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384180)

The cost of keeping men in theater is so great that if this (or any) weapon reduced the length of the conflict by 1%, it will likely have paid for itself. The real issue is whether the conflict can be solved by killing people.

Likewise, the cost of recruiting, training, and maintaining a soldier is so large that if this weapon saves some lives and prevents some injuries, it will pay for itself.

As far as how "revolutionary" the system is, well, I can't say for sure because I'm not using one. I'm guessing that this weapon will be issued to the guy in the team who would normally be carrying the M16/M4 with the M203 on it. The M203 is reasonably effective for firing on enemies behind cover. When I had the chance to fire one in Basic Training, I could very reliably put a round through a window out to about 100 meters. Landing a round a couple meters behind a berm or small wall was a bit more tricky but definitely doable. The sighting system on the XM25, the much flatter trajectory, and the air-burst feature should make these kinds of shots much much easier. It will also allow a soldier to shoot from the prone position, which isn't so easy with the M203. The important thing about this weapon is the range. Being about to put those grenade rounds out to 800 meters is a big advance over 150M with the M203.

I haven't shot or handled one of these weapons, but I can imagine firing one. What I imagine is something similar to the feeling of firing a M2 or Mk19-- my feeling was 'Holy shit! There's nowhere to hide..." That's what I can imagine with this weapon.

So buy the Daewoo version instead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384184)

...after all, it's already in production, so the revolution started without our permission again. Oh, nevermind - that would involve paying less than half as much to a foreign company. Nope.

Not rifle, Grenade Launcher (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384188)

whee! [youtube.com]

hard to see how this works (3, Interesting)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384198)

The projectile is traveling say 1000 feet per second ( let's say that the target is 500m away starting behind a long stone wall ), then the projectile explodes. To kill someone it just passed, it will have to fire lots of large fragments backward and down ( or backward and sideways - if person is standing around the corner of a building ) at at least 1000-2000 feet / second to be lethal.

The physics on this is tricky. To do this, you need to meet the "for every action, an opposite and equal reaction" law. This means something of equal mass will fly forward at ~ 3,000 ft/sec ( this is wasted material not being aimed at anything except unsuspecting persons in the distance ) . In the end, you are talking about a round with what? maybe 20 fragments ( to increase the odds of hitting something ) and each fragment will have to 1) fly fast enough to penetrate and ideally cause hydrostatic shock and 2) be heavy enough to do damage. If the rounds are too big and heavy, a single gunner will have trouble firing the weapon ( bruising on the shoulder ) and won't be able to carry many rounds because of the weight.

For close range targets - 100m, the round is traveling at perhaps 2000 feet per second. Even if this thing blows up over someone's head, it seem most of the blast is going to continue forward, not towards the person behind the wall. Perhaps they hope the concussion wave will be strong enough to be lethal. A very high percentage of the metal fragments should blow forward due to the already high velocity of the round.

Keep in mind, this round is spinning, so the blast will go in all directions. It is not possible to tell the bullet to fire downwards when over the target.

note: a 22 cal bullet fires at bout 800-1200 feet per second. An M15, the standard round for the USMC, fires at about 2,700 to 3,500 feet per second and can have a range out to about 800 meters.

Funny and Sad (0, Troll)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384242)

What percentage of US casualties are friendly fire incidents?

How much higher will that figure go when these are deployed everywhere?

Eventually the US will get so good at war they'll be the only ones getting kills! Unfortunately the death toll will be in the millions but that's besides the point. U S A U S A U S A!!!!!!!!! Greatest country in the world!!!!
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