War Changed.

by Luke Hawbaker:

This past week the U.S. Army began using new smart gun that can kill behind walls.

Source: US Army, Flick Creative Commons

Man’s first ranged weapon was probably a rock. Spears and bow and arrows eventually followed. Gunpowder and the firearm started a revolution. But from the rock to the AK-47, one concept remained the same: cover. You hid behind something if you don’t want to get hit. Plain and simple. One knows it playing make-believe as a kid. It’s innate. And it no longer matters.

This past week the U.S. Army introduced the XM25 to Afghanistan. It kills behind walls. The shoulder-fired weapon shoots exploding 25 mm rounds akin to a grenade launcher. But here’s the kicker: each round has a microchip in it. These allow a soldier to program it explode at a certain distance. (The range of the gun is longer than most rifles, roughly 2,300 feet.)

Imagine, if you will, a firefight in Afghanistan. American soldiers on patrol engage Afghan militants. A militant takes cover behind a wall, popping up to fire on the soldiers. A month ago he would have been safe when he ducked back down. Today, however, one of the Americans is carrying an XM25. He raises it. The gun’s laser range finder calculates the distance to the wall.  The soldier programs the round to explode a few feet further on, just past the wall. He fires. The round explodes directly above the combatant sheltered behind the wall, killing or injuring him.

By the start of next year, the U.S. Army will own enough XM25s to equip every infantry squad and Special Operations team with one. Combat has been revolutionized. The XM25 has been billed as a “game changer.” That may be an understatement.