back to article Green Berets to get Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle

A radical Judge Dredd style computer smart-rifle able to strike at enemies hiding around corners is to be issued to US special forces units in Afghanistan, according to reports. The weapon in question is of course our old friend the XM-25, long under development by the US Army's weapons boffins. The main idea of the XM-25 is to …

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Grenade

Sir

So, it's a hand-held flak unit for ground targets?

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Grenade

And now, the smart grenade launcher?

A decade old fire control unit on a 40 mm grenade launcher (total weight 3 kg) is supposed to give a 2m precision hit. But the next big thing is maybe better.

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Anonymous Coward

Must resist.

I promise to stop myself making any reference to friendly fire. Damn, blew it already.

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Flame

Still not good enough

The weapon in insurgent hands is most likely PK (leftovers from war with USSR) or PKM (later imports). That does 1500m. The proper way to counter it is a similar class machine gun, or sniper fire, not a Dredd-style rifle. With its 750m range it will be outclassed every time.

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bet their eyes hurt

from squinting so hard if they actually engage from that range

just because they have that range doesn't mean they fire from it

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Boffin

RE: Still not good enough

The PK may have sights that will ramp up to 1500m but that's for harrassing fire at best, without optics it's doubtful you'd do anything more than scare people at that range on the bipod. You'd need to put it on a tripod and have it locked to a pre-determined fireline for any chance of accuracy at that range.

Then there's the question of eyesight. One of the problems the Afghan National Army has is that many members, even from the urban areas, simply do not get a good diet and so either suffer from eye conditions or have poor eyesight. One of the things their US instructors are doing is trying to get them as early as possible to start taking vitamin tablets and giving them eyetests and glasses or corrective eye surgery. A BATT study in Sierra Leone found most of the locals couldn't even see a man at 300m, let alone shoot straight enough to hit him with an AK that had often seen better days. The Sierra Leonans compensated as many of the Taliban do - they simply kept their AKs on auto and sprayed off a whole mag, often never hitting a thing! The Taliban don't like getting close to the Allied troops were the Taliban can actually shoot effectively enough to get hits because that is also the range the much better trained Allies can return very accurate fire, they are instead using long-range machinegun fire and hit-and-run tactics. Hence the need to quickly bring down explosive fire before they escape.

A 750m range is probably good enough for most engagements, though I do wonder how well the computer will stand up to being hauled around the hills by the average grunt. At least the old M203 was attached to a rifle, which meant the grunt could protect himself at shorter ranges. How do you use the XM-25 if the Taliban is within 5m, like if they are clearing rooms in a house, without killing or wounding your colleagues? Do you leave your XM-25 gunner twiddling his thumbs outside?

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Silver badge

I suggest

You get out to a range and see what a man sized target 750m away look like.

Basically a tiny dot on the horizon. I can just about hit a man sized target at 300m without a telescopic sight ( I'm not bad but no marksman), at 750 you need a very good sight, no wind, and a very very very good marksman to hit any thing at all. At 1500m? Forget it.

Of course there are exceptions - but these are untrained Taliban or similar we are talking about.

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Bronze badge
Grenade

Point blank range for a good ol' boy from Texas

You need to meet some of the good ol' boys from Texas who grew up having to shoot well to put food on the table. Taking out a deer at 800 yards with an open sight is common. The younger generation can still put a bullet in the head of a deer at 400 yards while still sitting in their pickup truck.

Or read some of the stories from WW I about the American Units that had recruited from the backwoods regions.

It seems like every military generation thinks that soldiers only have to shoot at point blank range.

For those who are wondering why you would shoot from the cab of a pickup truck. It muffles the sound so the game warden has trouble figuring out if it was a gun shot and what the direction it was.

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Boffin

Ranges

A decent high caliber machine gun can reach 1000m very easily and accurately. Someone with lots of experience (yes the Taliban have lots of this thanks to the Soviets and the post-Soviet civil war) can also rain some very accurate fire at this range. A whisper on the grapevine informs me that a Canadian managed to get a confirmed kill at 1600m using his 0.5cal machine gun. The Taliban are fond of using a huge, scary machine gun of Soviet origin (I forget the name) which they mount on the back of a pickup and can fire an insanely large caliber capable of punching holes in armoured vehicles. That could probably take someone out at 3 miles away if it hits!

The XM-25 is not going to compete with these weapons nor is it designed to. It will however be very useful in urban combat where the nasties are shooting out of windows. And yes, if badly used it will kill lots of civilians. It is however, a less damaging option when compared to airstrikes, grenade launchers or a shoulder launched rocket. Unlikely to be any good for short range room clearance unless they are giving it some kind of shotgun round?

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well

A hunting rifle doesn't = an assault rifle. I'd like to see one of your good ol' boys use a field worn AK47 with surplus ammo and hit a deer at 800 yards with open sights.

I could see this gun used in urban warfare, if you need to take something out in the open however I think a marksman with a rifle is the best option.

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Pint

Shotgun round

would, I guess, just be a 0.5ish second delay on the bullet- everything's going quickly forwards but then it explodes and covers everything with high-speed (apparently lethal) shrapnel.

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Thumb Up

Long range Candian Sniper shot.

You're mistaken.

The Canadian reference is to a soldier armed with a .50 cal sniper rifle, not a machine gun.

As to shooting and ranges.. Check out Palma matches. They use a peep site out to 1000yrds.

However they also have a spotting scope and of course no one is shooting back at them.

The rifles are also match grade.

At long range engagements, you have two types of tactics. 1) Harassing fire, aka 'spray and pray' 2) Sniping with a heavy caliber rifle. (.338 Lapua or larger)

The interesting thing about the XM-25 is that as a 25mm 'rifle', you have a heavier gauge weapon for a squad. You're able to carry more rounds and have a greater range than the 40mm grenade rounds. So when you enter a situation where you're receiving fire from a fortified location, you have the ability respond and take out the enemy. That's the point.

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Stop

"texas ol' boy" stories

The clue is in the word "stories".

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RE: Point blank

The problem is, not every soldier is a sniper. The reason Napoleonic armies used mass volley fire, and more modern armies use short range assault rifles is because the average soldier is assumed to be incapable of hitting a barn door, so in both cases, plenty of bullets fly in the vague direction of the enemy, hopefully hitting him.

Sure, they are trained, but not all to sniper level. Besides, most snipers operate from a hidden position, not from a crater while trying not to be killed by machine gun fire.

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"Holy shit" rifle

It's a frag grenade that throws itself!

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Silver badge

Gad!

"It brings, right now, organic to the squad"

I've read and re-read this snippet and it still makes no sense. Why does the military insist on making war on English?

For my own part, being shot at by Taliban would certainly bring organic to my underwear.

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Organic

adj., "characterized by the systematic arrangement of parts; organized; systematic: elements fitting together into a unified, organic whole"

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Alert

Oh Crap

Don't we have enough problems with Yanks with guns when they can actually see who they are shooting at!

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Coat

@Oh Crap

"Don't we have enough problems with Yanks with guns when they can actually see who they are shooting at!"

Nah - we're too $%#ing drunk to see anything anyway. This won't make any difference.

My ammo is in one of these pockets....

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Grenade

Nah...

naah, need a red factionesq W.A.S.P + one of them handy anti personel frag grenade guns, with the selectable bounce round corners/hit & stick on goodness, mucho fun they are.

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IT Angle

Nothing much changes

Kipling was writing about "Arithmetic on the Frontier" in 1886.

A scrimmage in a Border Station --

A canter down some dark defile --

Two thousand pounds of education

Drops to a ten-rupee jezail --

The Crammer's boast, the Squadron's pride,

Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

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Paris Hilton

May I ask?

Nice to have a break from the election crap, but what is the angle?

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Grenade

It has chips in in!

'nuff said.

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Troll

Here's your lunch, troll

A computer-guided shell, shot out of a BFG that sounds like a comic character's weapon... and you´re still asking the angle? It's only missing a Paris reference!

Enjoy your meal!

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Happy

Surely...

You mean crisps?

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Grenade

@TheRealRoland

Nope, the crisps will be at the other end - as soon as they develop the incendiary round!

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Thumb Down

Great

So now we'll have soldiers firing one of these things at anything that moves behind a wall, and killing children and other civilians indiscriminately with shrapnel.

Sounds like a gun version of a landmine.

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Thumb Up

Agreed

I completely agree that this is going to increase the possibility for "collateral damage" (which is already far too high). The only advantage over a landmine is that it explodes almost immediately - Civilians won't still be losing feet to them in 10 years time (assuming we EVER leave)

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Grenade

Alternatives already exist...

A tank can fire a shell through a window from a long distance and that will do a far better job of killing enemies taking cover indoors.

Likewise if you aim the tank's crosshairs at the corner of a building it will quickly remove the said obsticle so snipers can have a direct line of fire - if the shell hasn't also taken the enemy out at the same time.

Job done. :-)

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Thumb Down

Bad idea...

A tank is about the worst possible thing you want to bring into any urban environment. There sitting ducks with bugger all mobility, often unable to rotate their turret enough to actually point at what they want to (due to urban obstacles - houses, etc.). And with the prevalence of MANPADS and even your basic grenades in Afghanistan, any tank that enters an urban environment is pretty much asking to wind up a charred wreck within 30minutes...

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Grenade

Trolling any good here?

There's an enemy in a room in the city and you propose shelling with tanks? That's gonna help with the charm offensive, no, those piles of bodies under rubble of collapsed houses?

The idea of sharp shooting is to be extremely cheap and focused, so no lobbing of large things making lots of damage and untold collateral damage, i.e., toldlers without limbs and mothers without lifes and those things that tend to come up on tv in the real world.

Some repetition and spelling out may help, I hoped.

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Pint

Indeed

Something terribly sexy about the specs of a machine made for death and destruction. Made even more so when I remember my naff moped still takes 3 goes to get started on a cold morning, why can't the same experts design a frigging oversized lawn-mower engine to work properly!

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Terminator

Lets hope it doesnt take as long to reload as thier video

Boooooooooo

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Thumb Up

What is the news?

Heckler & Koch have had this capability for more then ten years...

Oh just read page 2 it actually says that in the article :D

If I recall correctly the bullet counts the number of rotations it makes and thereby "knows" the distance it has traveled. This distance has been programmed into the bullet by making use of the laser scope to measure the distance. Pretty cleaver tech.

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Boffin

It may be a little more niche

But this is much more like a Space Marine Bolt Gun than Judge Dredds.

A bullet that detonates moments after impact: Bolt gun.

Multiple round types: Bolt gun.

Used for killing aliens and heretics: Bolt gun.

Used by the elite fighting force of an autocratic dictatorship to put down dissenters: Bolt gun

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Grenade

SLR

surprised no mention of the gun the SA80 replaced. Long range, high power ...

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Unhappy

And F**kin heavy

I'm sure my arms were a foot longer after coming off stag lugging one of those buggers and a pouch full of ammo around.

The SA80 (A1) may suck, but at least it's light enough for extended patrols.

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bex

Worse sights in the world

Talking to army guys the redesigned SA80 is well received easy to fire and does not take your shoulder off. The SLR is too long and the normal sight's totally crap. That said it could take your leg off at half a mile

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Coat

Meh liek

Looks blast-tastic!

Yes, mine's the one with a hellfire rocket in the pocket..

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WTF?

Hitting around corners or at enemy in a trench?

I don't think so. When the smart bullet explodes, say 1 m beyond the corner or just above the trench, the shrapnel will happily continue their path mainly along the line of flight of the bullet, spreading out in a cone, centered around that flight path. No way it is going to halt its forward momentum and exclusively rain down on the unsuspecting enemy. The XM-25 is already 20 years in development and still they did not find a way to set aside basic laws of physics? Sheesh. Did anybody perhaps think of making an explosive bullet with a delayed contact fuse? Ask your basic artillery-man, we got that stuff for ages already. And to hit someone in a trench you need high angle fire. Our great-grandfathers in the Great War knew that already.

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Anonymous Coward

An effective weapon...

.... no doubt, right up to the point that the enemy obtains them too. And - one way or another - they always do, eventually. The only thing the enemy doesn't have to do is pay for development.

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WTF?

Much as I love high tech weaponry,

this does sound rather too much like an anti-personnel mine- designed to injure rather than kill outright. If the bullet went _into_ the enemy and exploded then that's excellent- you get a quick kill and with your insides messed up like that you're not going to cling to life in a wheelchair.

But blowing up in mid-air, launching shrapnel into them from a short distance? That sounds like it's got a lot of scope to shoot to the sides- hitting the hostage they're holding or the small child they're protecting. A long-range shotgun rather than a proper rifle.

Also, Afghanistan has approximately 50,000 US troops. At £25,000 a pop you're talking $1.25Bn to roll this weapon out to just the US troops.

And I'm not the world's greatest with weapons costs, but isn't £25k rather a lot more than most other guns? I mean okay it's impressive, but it doesn't seem like £25,000 worth of gun. $25k of parts in the development model perhaps, but if that's the production cost then wouldn't it make more sense to spend that billion dollars on, say, a fleet of UAVs to increase the range the enemy have to keep to stay out of sight?

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Coat

Run!

What happens when there is a misfire or the round gets stuck? RUN!!!!!!!!!! Oh and don't forget to drop the weapon while you are at it.

Mines the one with 'Smarmy Bastard' on the back.

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Lawgiver

To match Dredd's Lawgiver, you really need Ricochet and Heat Seeker ammo. Actually, both of those would be really good real-world ammo types for this gun, if they could figure out how to do it effectively.

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Complex? Breaks a lot.

Wanna know what's going to happen with it? It will be broken a lot. The über rifle is going to be a tad less useful than the Isn't-it-swell-Mattie-Mattel M16 when that thing gets dirty.

.50 cal machineguns have been used to "duel" each other at ranges of a mile. How do you know where your bullets are going? Tracers and binoculars! And yes, it is a problem for the guys downrange because you are sending a good belt of ammo marked "to whom it may concern."

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Anonymous Coward

Tracers point both ways

Right?

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Silver badge
Boffin

RE: Complex? Breaks a lot.

I agree the test of the system is how well it stands up to being dragged around in the field. Mind you, a mate did remind me that similar programmable ballistic computers have been around since the '80s so they should be reasonably robust by now.

But .50 MGs do not get taken out on patrols, they are very much semi-static weapons used in defensive positions. The gun Desk Jockey is probably thinking of is the DShK, a common sight as a commander's gun on most Soviet tanks and roughly equivalent to the old Browning M2. The only problem is the DShK is not exactly easily portable - the gun alone weighs about 75Lb and with the usual wheeled mount we're getting on for 350Lb before you even consider the wieght of ammo! Not something you want to be dragging around the hills or making a quick escape, which is why the Taliban put them in pick-up trucks.

The weight of such traditional long-range weapons is why there has been the development of lighter .50 sniper rifles, though even weapons like the Barret M107 are 30Lbs before you consider optics, ammo, and the inconvenience of losing two men in your squad to a sniper team. What is quickly forgotten is that the whole XM-25 project was kicked off by reports of how poor US Army shooting was with the old M16A1. The M16A2 with it's heavier barrel and some better training seem to have helped a lot, and having rifles such as the M16A4 with optics really makes a difference not just to shooting but also to acquiring targets in the first place. The problem was these were heavier than the old M16A1 which led to calls for the soldiers getting the lighter M4 carbine - which is actually a step backwards if range is the problem. I suppose the answer will have to be to give up the idea of one standard rifle and have fireteams with a mix of M4s, M16A4s, M249s and at least one dedicated marksmen/sniper team per squad. With maybe one XM-25, just in case.

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Grenade

Sorry to upset our Canadian friends

But the longest range confirmed kill has bene claimed by Corporal of Horse Craig Harrison

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Harrison_%28sniper%29

He dropped two Taliban at 2475 m. I doubt I could walk that far without needing a pint

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Silver badge

Judge Dredd maybe...

...but Batou it's not.

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Silver badge

GITS?

You sure you don't mean Saito or possibly Major Kusanagi with Sniper software rather than Batou? He's more like heavy infantry, where size is more important than accuracy.

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