The U.S. Army is set to start testing a computerized, high-tech projectile launcher that can take out bad guys hiding around corners and in caves or trenches, even if they're out of the soldier's line of sight.
Some experts call it the "Judge Dredd" gun, after the Sylvester Stallone movie. The Pentagon calls it the XM-25 Individual Air Burst Weapon, which uses a laser rangefinder to precisely measure the distance to a target, then primes a fuse on a timed grenade so that the projectile explodes exactly where it should.
"The way a soldier operates this is you basically find your target, then laze to it, which gives the range, then you get an adjusted aim point, adjust fire and pull the trigger," deputy program manager Richard Audette told Army News Service. "Say you've lazed out to 543 meters ... when you pull the trigger it arms the round and fires it 543 meters plus or minus a one-, two- or three-meter increment, then it explodes over the target."
A squad trying to neutralize an enemy fighter wouldn't have to wait until he showed himself — instead, they could just aim to a spot near him, then use the XM-25 to have a grenade explode directly there.
"For example, 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)," said Audette. "We can take out the target at $25 per XM round as opposed to a $20,000 to $50,000 JDAM."
With a range of 750 meters — nearly half a mile — the XM-25 would also be very effective in Afghanistan, where Taliban fighters often hide behind rocks and in caves.
In addition to precision-timed grenades, the gun is also built to fire armor-piercing, door-breaching, anti-personnel and less-than-lethal rounds.