back to article First reports on XM-25 Judge Dredd smartgun in A'Stan

First reports are emerging on the performance of the futuristic, Judge Dredd style XM-25 computer smartgun, which went into combat with frontline US troops in Afghanistan in December. The hi-tech rifle - almost a portable artillery piece - is said to have been dubbed "the Punisher" by soldiers who have used it. A soldier aims …

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  1. Jan 0
    Flame

    Firefight?

    '"We silenced two machine-gun positions – two PKM positions," said Major Christopher Conley, describing some of the firefights in which the XM-25 has been used.'

    Firefight? Does the XM-25 fire phosporus munitions? Or were flamethrowers and/or phosphorus

    munitions used as well as the XM-25?

  2. AndyMM
    Thumb Up

    Well Put

    Nice to hear someone actually spending money on soldiers rather than squids and flyboys.

    Sounds an excellent weapon, not holding my breath for when UK troops will get it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Were the UK working on anything comparable ?

      Of busy buying shiny nuclear subs ?

      If the past 50 years have taught use anything, it's that the big fuck-off massed battles of WW2 are not the way wars are being fought. It's patchy sporadic incidents. Air covers nice. But the actual taking and holding of positions is close-quarters gun battles. That's where the R&D should have gone.

    2. Rafayal
      Paris Hilton

      How embarrassing

      You don't actually know the meaning of the term 'firefight' in the context of military actions do you?

      If you did, then it would have prevented you from leaving such a retarded post because you would have been safe in the knowledge that the term 'firefight', when used in a military context describes the gun battle - i.e. shooting at each other.

      The quality of posts on the reg has taken a massive dip down.... Such a shame.

      Paris, because even she isn't this stupid.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:How embarrassing

        Possibly he's complaining about the usage of a fairly meaningless neologism (1960s) that makes more intelligent people think of firefighting and firefighter rather than "gun battle".

        1. Martin Lyne
          Grenade

          Re:How embarrassing

          >a fairly meaningless neologism (1960s) that makes more intelligent people think of firefighting and firefighter rather than "gun battle"

          As far as I'm aware.. phosphorous has never been used to extinguish fires, sadly invalidating your suggestion.

          If they made incendiary rounds for the weapon in question.. could be useful. Or flashbangs for non-lethal.

        2. Steve Ives
          Paris Hilton

          Indeed embarrassing

          Intelligent people know what it means. Just like they don't think the term 'grandfather' refers to your dad in a posh suit. It's a well-know common term that the OP has never encountered, perhaps because English isn't his first language (only reasonable explanation).

          Paris, 'cos even she knows that she shouldn't blow and it's not a job when she delivers a...

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Flame

          Yeah, no.

          I'm a child of the '80s and I know perfectly well the meaning of "firefight" in a military setting. Please, don't try to support idiotic comments with idiotic arguments.

          1. Tim Spence
            Go

            Dogfights

            I wonder if the next article which talks about Eurofighters and MIGs dogfighting, our friend will pop in and ask what planes have to do with dogs...

    3. Simon 26
      Unhappy

      We'll design our own

      The rangefinding laser will be replaced with a ball of string, it'll come into service 15 years later than it should, BAE will get billions and the weapon will be shit.

      Just like all the other make-job/waste money defence projects that have gone before.

      1. Adam Foxton
        Happy

        That's almost a good idea

        chuck out a strand of something tipped with an extremely sticky substance. Pull it taut.

        Read off measurement.

        Consult a table to get the appropriate elevation to use. Cheap, traditional, reliable, and retro-fit-able to modern weapons (with the addition of another column to the table)!

        OR, using cameraphone-grade technology, project a pair of laser dots onto the surface and measure the distance between their centres to get the distance. Then have the software read in accelerometer data to see when you've tilted the gun back far enough.

        Not quite the War-Androids that I'd hoped to see in the 21st century, but it'll do I guess :D

        1. lasersage
          Boffin

          pair of laser dots?

          I'm not sure that's practical for long distances, time of flight is the common laser ranging method

    4. maclovinz
      Flame

      MY HOSE IS HUGE...

      and it put out those flamethrowers you speak of.

      What's that, they don't get use anymore? Ah...well my hose is still a biggun'!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Temporary respite

    The effective range of a PKM is 1500m. Instead of shooting from 600-700m just outside the effective range of NATO 5.62 the ambushes will start being set-up further back which will make the Judge Dredd Gun a one-trick 3 day miracle.

    The only long term solution to the problem of fighting low-tech opponents who have heavy armament are reusable loitering munitions (ones that do not selfdestruct, but return for refuel after fuel runs short) or small drones firing small semi-dumb missiles at a target painted by the infantry. Something that is cheap and easy to operate that it can be launched for every patrol and nobody cares if it is lost to enemy fire.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    This news brought you by...

    ..the Imperial Maintenance Network.

    "Defending Democracy since 1916. If it suits us."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Nice comment...on paper

      Afghanistan is not a nice 'flat' landscape, and I severly doubt the Taliban are using the PKM in a support fire role, and even at the extreams of its range I doubt that it would be very effective. They are attacking at relatively close ranges because that is all the Afghan terrain allows for. Besides, you don't abush from a mile away because then it's not an ambush. It's a waste of rounds. And yes, I did serve in the army for over a decade so perhaps I have a bit of a better clue than reading up on the PKM on Wikipedia like you did. CoD isn't real life you know!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      "Effective Range"

      You'd best define what you mean by "effective range".

      At 1500 meters, a bolt action .308 could hit a target under excellent conditions.

      But then you have the .300WinMag and then the .338 Lapua where 1500m is within range.

      Here, we're talking about a designated marksman rifle. Granted at longer distances 1500m and beyond, you do have the .338 and .50bmg rifles.

      At 1500 meters, the PKM is a 'spray and pray' weapon which can provide harassing fire. Not to mention the round will have lost a lot of its energy if it hits a target.

      In urban combat the M4 is a better weapon. You don't want over penetration and the range is much less, like under 300m which is within the .223 ballistic characteristics.

      You can carry more ammo in .223 and overall it weighs less.

      Mines the jacket with a box of .300 Win Mag and box of Rem 7s as I head out the door to the range. ;-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        Re: Effective Range and Over Penetration

        the SS109 version of the NATO 5.56x45 round (aka .223), can go through body armour at 50m, 3 rounds fired at the same point will go through a standard UK cavivity wall.

        The rounds are lethal out to several miles. even a small .22LR is considered lethal at upto a mile.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Grenade

          @AC

          .22LR lethal at up to a mile?

          Uhm, yeah right.

          Penetration is going to be based on the projectile's mass and velocity at the time of impact.

          Sure if you're lucky enough to strike the body in a soft spot, you might get a fatality. (The rare golden bee bee.)

          But if you mean that you're 'standing' one mile (Ok actually laying prone) with a .22LR rifle and a good tactical scope that you can intentionally hit me and kill me? Sorry, but I seriously doubt that.

          As to body armor penetration... it depends on what body armor the person has.

          As to over penetration... you can hide behind a tree while a .223 SAW fires at you. You can't do that when its a .308 machine gun cutting that tree in half. (That was the point. ) The .308 will deliver more energy on target that a .223. (E=1/2mv^2 )

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Headmaster

            22LR lethal at up to a mile?

            As written on the side of the tin and considered when designing ranges.

            There is also a difference between something being lethal at a range, and actually intentionally hiting something at a range.

            "As to over penetration... you can hide behind a tree while a .223 SAW fires at you. "

            The above is based on Hollywood, hiding behind tree might work if it is above 1m diameter, and they only use 1 round.

            Using the underpowered yank M193 round you can get through 50mm of concrete (unreinforced) with 1 round at 50m (zero deflection)

            The SS109 was tested out as going through 5.5mm of mild steel at 50m. (not the armour plate type steel)

            Warminster did some interesting tests that they filmed and released internally some years ago, if you wait long enough it will probably turn up on wikileaks/youtube. Will definately put you off joining the infantry, or otherwise volunteering to be down range of our 5.56 round

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      Ref: Temporary respite

      The painted target is fine, however;

      I would really not want to be any where near a live muntion that had come back to refuel, one way self destruct fine, Irish Torpedo (comes back if it can't find a target) no thanks

      Range on weapons is a bit odd. Effective range is a matter of judgement, i.e. can i effectively shoot at you, for me I struggle with accuracy at 800m, most squadies struggle at 300m on iron sights, the Met well I suspect they would miss the barn door. If you just want to keep their heads down, well spray and pray works at most ranges.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge
        Go

        nah

        If our squad doesnt hit 300m with respirators then its BFT twice on a friday instead of once.

  5. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Ugly gun

    This gun sounds very effective, in the same way that cluster bombs, mines and phosphorus are very effective.

    1. Barracoder
      Thumb Down

      Not exactly

      More like a kick up your arse would be effective, you idiotic, fifth column, Guardian-reader.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      Not quite

      Its more of a precision weapon - so while I'm a guardian reading anti-war type and should probably be shot for being a traitor in barracoders world ;-) -- I think this is generally a 'good thing' when compared to cluster bombs, mines etc that kill indiscriminately. If you are shooting at soldiers, regardless of if you think they are an invading force or not you probably get what you expect.

      I'd like to see it fire some non-lethal but marking dye like they use in bank robberies and cannot be washed off easily, especially if as implied in the story they often limp off and are not caught. One of the advantages of guerrilla warfare is your ability to blend into the local populace - not so easy if you are dyed bright red.

      1. Ty Cobb
        Stop

        WTF

        Play paintball against the Taliban and Al Qaeda? You sir are an idiot.

        1. You're all dinosaurs
          Flame

          Original thinking

          And you are an unimaginative dolt. OP has identified a key issue in guerilla conflicts and an innovative way to separate combatants from civvies. Unless the entire population starts wearing flourescent warpaint, you could effectively make the enemy pariahs in their own community by targeting them with a dye round while they're dragging off their wounded.

        2. Tom 13

          Sending the squad out with only paintballs would be a dolt move

          but I actually like the idea of giving the ground pounders the option of having a few marking rounds. They could be useful for tracking back to actual hide outs and possibly even finding the bad guys who order the drones about the field. Not sure I'd actually want it to be orange or red, probably prefer something in the uv range so the bad guys don't know they are marked, but the concept has potential.

  6. Turtle

    Ah!

    "Essentially, a soldier is very happy when the enemy stops firing at him"

    One learns something new every day!

  7. Christoph Silver badge

    Today's wars?

    "the foot soldiers who actually do most of the fighting and almost all the dying in today's wars"

    Nothing new or 'today' about the PBI being the ones doing the hard work and the dying.

    1. John Hughes
      Unhappy

      Most of the dying?

      But it's wrong.

      The PBI do most of the fighting, as usual.

      It's the civvies who do most of the dying, as has been true since WW2

  8. Dave Bell

    Mass-production?

    I doubt the rounds are what we would recognise as hand-made. It's going to be low-production, not highly-automated, and expensive, The fuse assembly might get screwed into place by hand, rather than by a machine: WW2 mass production, not hand-made.

    Besides, how do you hand-make an IC? A very tiny hammer and chisel?

  9. Tom Servo

    Not the Punisher Reg,

    Start calling it the Lawgiver. Maybe it will catch on.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Remember though-

      The Punisher was a vigilante, and the current legal wrangling over the 'Eastasia conflicts' may make the term Law-giver somewhat untenable...

    2. Dr. Funk.

      or possibly

      the peaceanator

    3. Tom 13

      Yanks have The Punisher,

      Brits have the Judge. There is some cross-over, but the centers are the centers.

  10. petur
    Thumb Down

    and then...

    ...the enemy gets their hands on one/some, and the fun begins. NOT.

    People forget to look at history from time to time.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      They already have something as effective.

      They already have plenty of good old PKMs.

      Cheap, cheerful, requires virtually zero training, can be maintained by an untrained muppet (I remember disassembling, servicing and assembling one as a kid - while not as easy as an AK47 it was more or less trivial). Range 1000m+.

      The gunner can sit happily outside the range of all but sniper fire (including this fancy supergun) and keep the opponents pinned to the ground while his mates advance with AK47s to finish' em off.

  11. LPF
    Paris Hilton

    @Anonymous Coward Temporary respite #

    Hey genius , ever tried hitting something from 1.5km with a machine gun ?? distance means increased probaility of missing, therefore anything that makes your enemy have to try and hit you from further away is good!

    The reason you posted AC is that you are a moron, therefore leaving us unable to associate your future posts with stupidity automatically!

    Paris, becuase even she is smarter than you!

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Go

      actually yes I have

      Its called walk the tracer.

  12. Matthew Smith

    7.62mm vs 5.56mm

    Excuse my ignorance, but I'm guessing that the problem is that the Taliban have a heavy machine and the average squaddie has a 5.56mm which can't return the range. But does a normal patrol not have at least one heavy weapon that can reply? I find it surprising that the soldiers out in the field can't at least deal with this situation without the need for a super weapon. (It might be the case, I'm just asking. Everything I know about infantry tactics came from Warhammer 40K).

    1. Daniel Evans

      Accuracy

      It's all well and good sitting around having a machine gun slugfest with the Taliban, whilst everyone else on both sides finds a nice rock to sit behind, but it's probably slightly quicker (and hence involves a few less bullets flying towards you) to just pop an explosive slug above their heads and be done with it.

    2. Rafayal

      not quite

      it isnt that the 5.56 has less range 9(it has greater range in an sa80 when compared to the ak47).

      it comes down to kinetic energy. the Russian round hits harder, ours does not.

      however, our rifles carry more rounds, due to the smaller size. I have read recently that there may be a move over to 6.5mm boat tailed rounds for NATO. If this happens it will be a win

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Point of order

        AK47s shoot 7.62x39mm, not the 7.62x54mm the PK machine gun fires. With an effective range of some kilometre and a half, the latter well outranges the former and whatever you'd care to shoot that 5.56mm ammo with. And it packs a bunch more punch too, yes.

        Personally I can't help but wonder if there aren't less ragged bleeding edge experimental new development and therefore expensive ways to shake up a firing position 1500 metres away then rain death on the resulting panic. An iphone app to beef up AT4 targeting or something? Just brainstorming here, mind. Then again, it isn't hard to find far more spendy boondoggles boasting far less "result". And, of course, them 'merkins do like their hand loading practice.

      2. DS 1

        5.56

        Put yourself in Afganistan. Pick up your rifle. Its an SA80 rifle. Its not got bad accuracy up to maybe 300M or so, but for every metre beyond its working range its getting more powder puff.

        In addition, any Taliban hiding behind anything solid (and a lot of the Afgan walls and buildings have quite solid walls) can't be easily dealt with by 5.56. However, you may die, because the 7.62 round he is firing at you is going through objects, walls and cover. Including the one you might be sheltering behind.

        Further, the silly 5.56 is designed to tumble when hitting (I'm over simplifying this) and its supposed to injure and main and cause a lot of medical support issues for russians. Its not fundamentally a killer by design that is needed in some places like Afganistan.

        The 7.62 on the otheer hand is going to make a very big mess of you or kill you.

        Some of the justification for 5.56mm in logic is fine. You can carry more of it, and its lighter per cartridge, and its building, warehousing and production may cost less. All of this is fine if you are a pointless accountant sitting in the ministry of silly walks. On the field a soldier wants a round thats outgunning the enemy, and killing them. And if its very good at doing so, you can carry less ammo.

        You don't have to give every man in a unit a heavy weapon, you just need to rebalance the units so they have the right mix of light, medium, heavy and long range and support to win any and every fight.

      3. andybird123

        you might have missed in the article...

        the Taliban are using full power 7.62x54 rounds in the PKM machine guns to harass US and UK forces

        the AK47 uses a 7.62 Kurz (or short) rounds, which do have an effective range not much different to our 5.56 weapons, but the main problem in A'stan is the PKM not the AK

        the US have been talking about an intermediate round for years, which is kinda rich considering they made us change away from a .280

        in much the same way as they looked at replacing M4's with the SCAR, but in the end it came down to cost and they're not replacing M4's at all (just suggesting that soldiers use more lubrication)

        both the US and UK forces have just placed large orders for 7.62 marksman rifles which will be hitting the country shortly though

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          RE; 5.56

          "..... Pick up your rifle. Its an SA80 rifle. Its not got bad accuracy up to maybe 300M or so, ...."

          It's not an SA80 if you have any choice in the matter!

          Hitting a target at 300m on iron sights with an SA80 is a given*, being able to fire the 2nd round was always matter of chance.

          *= Assumes current military training includes marksmanship and the use of ammuntion on a regular basis (subject to cuts in budget and availability of instructors, also subject to cuts)

    3. Desk Jockey
      Pirate

      7.62mm v 5.56 mm

      This is a completely spurious debate. 5.56mm is fine for most of the things that the soldier has to do. It doesn't matter how big the caliber is when you get shot, it still hurts! Back in WW2, the Germans calculated that 90% of their infantry combat was happening inside 200m of range, making the arming of their troops with .303 rifles silly. What they invented was copied a bit by a Russian and called the AK47...

      Each squad or section in the Britsh army, usually has a light machine gun and/or a GPMG (7.62mm NATO round General Purpose Machine Gun). The Taliban have learnt pretty quickly that sitting 1500m away and hoovering away with a PKM is a quick route to dying unless they do it near civilians. Because if the British squaddie can't hit them back with the SA80 or GPMG and if they don't have a sniper with them, they simply pull out the ultimate sniping device! It's real name is a Javelin and it is a wire guided missile, with thermal camera and a range of 5000m plus. Being wire guided, aiming is less of an issue and it makes a hell of a lot more mess than even the XM-25. Great for taking out machine gun nests although each missile is pretty expensive, hence an XM-25 is quite an attractive option.

      So as you can see, being armed with 5.56mm rounds is not much of an issue as long as you have the other stuff. Javelins are carried by the soldiers themselves and can be fired a lot faster than it takes to call up a plane or helicopter. Staying in one place, armed with a PKM is just painting a bulls eye on yourself. Now that the XN-25 is about, it means that no range with some cover is safe...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Boffin

      Re: 7.62mm vs 5.56mm

      There is a misnomer around rounds, the range and damage is based on case and propellant, not the diameter of the bullet.

      Most people in the military and police miss this point as well (hence why some idiot used a 5,56x45 (.223in) on an indoor range designed for .22LR, because it was only 0.003 of inch bigger. Result large hole in back stop wall)

      Nato 7.62 is 7.62x51, and 5.56 is 5.56x45. even these come in different flavors with higher muzzle energies and/or penetration.

      The taliban will be using at least 2 of the Russian 7.62mm rounds, the 7.62x54r (high powered) and the 7.62x39 (which goes through the AK47)

      There is also the 7.62x25 which goes through the Tokarev pistol.

      Hope that brings some clarity.

      1. DS 1

        Wrong

        On so many counts, but I'm not going to waste time arguing. Anyone thinking 5.56 is ok is an idiot in the context of Afpak. Nuff said.

  13. DS 1

    Just plain bad

    NATO has been fighting in Afganistan for 10 years. The fundamentals are simple, the theory is tricky, and the end game is hard work. But the walking around afgan with lower calibre weapons (5.56mm vs Taliban 7.62mm and more) is something that has I think been obvious since very early days as a painfully poor set of circumstances to be faced in. Even so, NATO troops do win out, through better training and better equipment and support in a general sense.

    Its taken what 10 years to elevate some new weapons, be it a heavier calibre brit sniper rifle and things like the XM25. Had the allies in WW2 progressed technology and weapons at this peacetime and pathetic snails pace, we too would have lost that conflict. End of story. The NATO troops need weapon developments that elevate the troops to a superior battlefield situation in every possible circumstances. That means simply having anything they need to deal with the mix of Taleban weapon systems. That means being best in every firefight, and in rare cases where that may not be the case, bring the rain and end it by superior air power.

    That after years is STILL not the case today. Today a brit tommy is still shooting at some guy with a 5.56mm gun that won't even get past walls and objects, and when it hits doesn't really do the damage required, while facing off against men with heavier calibre 7.62 weapons that do go through walls and will make a very bad mess of you if it hits you. Afganistan is not some euro close combat city environment that I guess the small bullpup design and 5.56 was contemplated in.

    What ever the politics, whatever the social background, NATO governments have to provide serious weapons that win the battlefield, and land rovers and 5.56 bullpup designs and a lack of choppers is not going to turn this.

    Its a weaponary inflection point, do you have a modern day issue where you are like the enemy at a level where you carry on using bows and arrows, or do you motivate the whole political and industrial focus onto creating a modern day jump like machine guns and lee enfields leaving the 'natives' with bows and arrows, and put your troops back in a superior and unchallenged military position.

    Other things need to happen, the limits on mosques should be revoked, and the theory in a fight of letting them remove their dead. No, no hiding places, no ground to stand on, no weapons outmatching that of our troops on the ground, and severe pressure applied on the enemy at all levels including movement, supply, and organisation levels.

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      @DS1

      I agree with almost everything you said.

      Its the fact that in urban combat, we don't want over penetration and the M4 is pretty effective. (Except when you do want to shoot through a wall.)

      You're suggesting total warfare.

      I'm not so sure that would be a good thing...

      1. xenny
        Happy

        peace post first strike

        @Ian Michael Gumby

        DS1 isn't advocating total warfare.

        Total warfare is nuking then until they glow and then shooting them in the dark.

      2. DS 1

        What I am suggesting..

        Is....

        If total war is required to win the battle space, then so be it. Personally I believe never ending war is very bad, and achieves nothing. If you must fight, fight to win, and do so with absolute certainty of winning the battlefield encounters.

        Part of the problem with this 'refraining' from fighting is it does not in the end cause less damage, or shorten the war, the bloodshed, or the destruction. We have achieved very little in Afganistan by the hearts and minds and 5.56mm.

        All talk of the 5.56 being effective I am sorry to say is not shown up in the battlefield or battle space. It neither wins fights, and it leaves our troops out gunned and out ranged, and under fire. And I'm not really an advocate of total war for the sake of it. But as I said, you need to totally outgun, out tech, and overload on the opponent, and kill them whereever they are.

        We have the science, technical, and military to take all of Afganistan, to have 24 hour coverage with evil 1984 overview, and to kill the enemy where ever they are. But to do this requires substantial elevation in our systems, weapons, and comms. As I said, we have for whatever reason reached a silly state where we have been at 'war' in peace time, and have tried stupidly to fight it on those terms. I believe when we ask a man to go and fight, and potentially die, the least we can do is provide the political and weapons view that wins the war, and kills the enemy. The country is not at war. Our industries and science is not being applied. We are and continue to be akin to fighting the indians with bows and arrows. Its just stupid.

        10 years, and we only have XM25 in eval mode? What, we need another 10 to put into production?

        If we are in a war and feel it must be won, then apply every last drop to making the war a winning effort and dominate without challenge. Or don't. If thats how it is, Bring home our tommies and the US marines, because each one of them is worth a million Taliban scumbags.

        We don't need to be in Afgan to kill such scum, We can kill them from very long distance in the middle of the night, and we don't need to lose a tommy or a marine to bloody well do it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          war winning 101

          We don't really need to out-gun, out-man, out-tech, or out-anything. It might be useful to highly useful, but it's not essential. What is the essence of winning a war is to make the adversary give up, to stop wanting to fight, to willingly surrender and live in peace under your rule. By whatever means necessary.

          We're not there to do that. We've said time and again that once the fighting is over we'd fsck right off and let them simmer and stew, calling it "democratising". Well, if that isn't an invitation for a guerilla adversary to make themselves a right pain, I don't know what is. The longer they manage to keep us pinned there, the more ground they win. The faster we sod off, the sooner they can get destabilising the locals we "put in charge". They can just sit back and wait, or they can go out and bleed us a bit. They'll win either way.

          So why are we there anyway? We're there to shout along with the USoA's "don't tread on me, y'hear now?" The name of the game is winning and rebuilding. The rules don't even give us room for that. Especially not because the adversary is pretty good at changing the rules sometimes before we manage to set them.

          I don't disagree that better gear will help us a lot. It's pretty clear that we needed that shakedown; an army only really becomes an army once it's been blooded. But what we really lack is the political will to do what it takes to actually "win" anything over there. If we had that we'd also just freed up the budget to get the military what they need, as opposed to what toys the brass wants to most efficiently accrue seniority. The only thing most of our politicians care for is that the excercise wouldn't cost too many of our lives. That's no way to conquer. And lo and behold, we're not doing very well there. Quelle surprise.

        2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          Boffin

          RE: What I am suggesting..

          ".....If total war is required to win the battle space, then so be it....." Hmmm, but we're not at war, it is essentially a COIN op and policing action (a much hated phrase amongst the PBIs). We're there because the Afghan government needs us to keep the Taleban at bay whilst they build up the Afghan police and army. What the Afghans definately don't want is us starting a "total war" as they need to win over the local populance. What they want is to make it clear to the Taleban that their continued "resistance" is pointless and simply means more Taleban die. There are already more than rumours that many Taleban-alligned tribes are talking to the Karzai government about reconcilliation, but a total war would put an end to that. Remember, the USSR tried a total war, including a 20km "free-fire" zone along the border which allowed their gunships to flatten Afghan villages at will. All that happened was the locals sent their women and kids over the border into Pakistan and then sent all their men back to fight.

          "....All talk of the 5.56 being effective I am sorry to say is not shown up in the battlefield or battle space...." Actually, quite the opposite. The Taleban are moving to longer range attacks because the M4s and SA80s have been winning the shorter range engagements. Despite all the hyping of the AK-47 and it's bigger bullet, even the short M4 is more accurate for the typical ambush ranges, and the SA80 was designed from the start to be as accurate as possible. The Taleban are trying to get out of the range of the 5.56mm NATO rifles because they were losing too many of their AK-47 luggers. Factor in problems for the Taleban like the poor level of eyesight amongst many of the tribal fighters, very few scoped weapons, and you begin to see why the 5.56mm rifles were winning many of the fights. And there's another factor - the AK-47 is damn heavy, heavier than the M4 or even the SA80! Our soldiers are wearing body armour and carrying plenty of kit, they want as light weapons and ammo as possible. The average Taleban footslogger carries half the number of rounds, a plastic water bottle of the type you see in your local supermarket, and may not be even carrying any medical kit, blanket or grenades, and definately not a helmet. It will take several Taleban to carry one PK and plenty of ammo, reducing the effectiveness of their supporting footsloggers as they become nothing more than ammo carriers (and with ammo they can't use in their AKs, meaning they will probably be carrying less AK ammo and therefore being less able to fight should our soldiers get the engagement range down).

          The fact the Taleban are having to resort to heavy MGs also limits the number of ambush spots - they need an open area with cover at their end, with escape routes they can lug the heavy gun away over without our soldiers simply chasing them down. They also need more PKs, a weapon not quite as available as the stocked AK-47 is, and even then they probably don't have that many skilled gunners that can guarantee hits at anything more than 250m. If we can keep pushing them back with weapons like the XM-25 and Javelin then we will reduce the Taleban's effectiveness further, and the locals will see the Taleban avoiding combat and realise the Taleban are not the awesome soldiers of Allah they claim to be.

          But for those that mention the Gimpy, I'm told that's rarely seen off a tripod or a vehicle nowadays. It is not carried as a standard infantry patrol weapon, it's simply too heavy, instead the L86 support version of the SA80 replaced it. The Paras were particularly upset at that as they view the two key weapons for many of the Falklands actions as having been the Gimpy and the 66m L1A1 (the old M72). One PBI told me they were quite happy to keep getting told off for shooting off expensive Javelins seeing as the same brass wouldn't spend the money to give them a better option.

        3. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          @DS1

          Total war means that if someone fires upon you, you return fire regardless of the civilians around. That is you ignore the 'human shield'.

          You ignore the political ramifications of collateral damage and you focus on taking out the enemy at all costs.

          This also includes the types of weapons you use.

          Flame throwers, Willie Pete, land mines, etc...

          From a psych ops perspective... you will end up creating enemies from the civilian population.

          With respect to the weapons... the more effective weapons are a throwback to earlier rifles. The M1A1/M14 was early Viet Nam. Advances in Designated Marksman Rifles using existing platforms... upgrading .223 to 6.8 that sort of thing.

          The point I was trying to make is that you have to be careful what you mean when you say total warfare... Like I said, I don't disagree with you.

          As to the XM25... I don't think the mass production is that far away. Ammo can be ramped up, parts for the gun can be mass produced and then manually assembled. It will take time, and of course the govt procurement procedures will slow it down... :-(

    2. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      "Had the allies in WW2 progressed technology and weapons at this peacetime and pathetic snails pace, we too would have lost that conflict."

      I reckon that H&S is to blame. Sending troops out with experimental weapons every couple of months is going to back-fire on you in the form of casulaties non?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @DS1: the limits on mosques should be revoked

      You've just shown a vastly better grasp of military equipment than politics.

      Let me put it in question form then - how does one most immediately and thoroughly alienate a (rather volatile) major world religion for a generation or three?

      1. Tom 13

        You mean more so than the lot that are already willing to blow themselves

        up to kill civies while still maintaining sufficient control that they don't self-immolate where they are standing?

        Realistically I don't think that's possible. They are already on the knife's edge of preparedness.

        On the other hand, denying them known safe sanctuary might just cause what ever small number of them can entertain a rational thought to engage in that activity more frequently. In short, the WWII principle: the religious centers are off limits only in so far as they are not actively engaged in hostilities - taking care of sick people is fine, but proving a fire platform or weapons storage make you a legitimate military target.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    IF

    If there were no soldiers, there'd be no wars...and if you are a link in that chain, you are as good as murdering yourself....from software engineers who control the output of the hardware engineers...you're all part of this murdering chain…put down your tools...or at least go work on some medical devices or civilian communications devices...if there were no geeks willing to work for the death industries, there'd be no war....Or at least they'd have to use common or garden sticks...sort it!

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
      Flame

      Sir

      Absolutism is complete bollocks.

      You know, I currently work at a bank, banks process money, some of the groups using this service are almost certainly involved in the war industry as it involves lots of money.

      OMFG I'M A MURDERING TECHIE CHAIN-LINK THINGY!!!

      I'd go and hand myself but that would be murder.

      ps the first line is a joke in case you missed it :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Grenade

      idiot

      that is all

    3. Ty Cobb
      Coat

      Glad to have been a geek in combat

      I personally have been both. My role was as a computer tech aboard Sauron's Eye in the sky in GW, OEF and OIF. I was most certainly glad to have been a wing nut in combat helping to provide air support and comms to the men and women on the ground.

    4. fandom Silver badge

      Absolutely right

      If we had no soldiers we would most certainly have no war. It would just be a short massacre until we were all dead and then never ending peace.

  15. Disco-Legend-Zeke
    Pint

    More Bang For...

    ...the buck.

    Whatever the cost of firing an XM round, it has to be cheaper than delivering .50 machine gun fire from a piloted aircraft.

    I lift my glass to the guys on the ground... Let's hope they get more of these pronto!

    1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Uhmmm

      Aircraft don't shoot .50s in today's air to ground conflict.

      They drop bombs or shoot rockets from unmanned drones.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
        Pint

        no, they shoot 30mm rounds

        from a big honkin' Gatling gun in the nose of an A-10 Warthog*. The A-10 is slow as shit and ugly as hell - unless you are a friendly ground pounder in need of some close air support.

        One of the scariest sounds on all of planet earth is the faint whistle of rather quiet twin turbofans followed by the BRRRRRRRRRRP of a 30mm shitstorm. It's a beautiful thing to watch - from a safe distance...

        Pint for the grunts and their various support personnel/mechanisms.

        *yes I know it's OFFICIALLY the Thunderbolt II

        1. Your Retarded
          Grenade

          Clarification

          The main armament of the A-10 Warthog / Thunderbolt II is a 30mm cannon - that's firing explosive shells, not bullets. A 30mm cannon is considerably more effective than a .50 calibre machine gun, particularly against armoured targets.

      2. Ty Cobb
        Grenade

        Well, the AC-130 Spectre carries lots of pointy explodie thingies and it flies

        AC-130A Project Gunship II

        4× 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns

        4× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon

        AC-130A Surprise Package, Pave Pronto, AC-130E Pave Spectre

        2× 7.62 mm GAU-2/A miniguns

        2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon

        2× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

        AC-130E Pave Aegis

        2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon

        1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

        1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

        AC-130H Spectre[30]

        (Prior to circa 2000)

        2× 20 mm M61 Vulcan cannon

        1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

        1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

        (Current Armament)

        1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

        1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

        AC-130U Spooky II

        1× General Dynamics 25 mm (0.984 in) GAU-12/U Equalizer 5-barreled gatling cannon

        1× 40 mm (1.58 in) L/60 Bofors cannon

        1× 105 mm (4.13 in) M102 howitzer

        See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AC-130

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          And a B52 drops a JDAM

          The OP was thinking that you had your old A6 Skyraiders swooping in and firing .50s. Or your A-18 attack jets swooping in on ground cover. (A-18 doesn't carry .50s either if memory serves...)

          Sorry, but the idea is to stand off at a distance where you can effectively reach out and touch the enemy but the enemy can't touch you back.

          AC-130s are scary. But they ain't flying all the time and your air cover would come from a more conventional air craft.

          BTW even the attack choppers use a chain gun and not a ma duce.

          As to the AC 110s they're firing depleted uranium rounds. Anti material (read tank). Not really used for strafing gun positions.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Sean Connery said it best

    they put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue, that's the only way to gain respect. Still waiting for the Duke, Lee Marvin, and John Cassiavetti to arrive and get us out of this mess...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: Sean Connery said it best

      Except it's actually more effective to wound the enemy sufficiently to disable him but not enough to kill him - that way he's a burden on his comrades, not a proper martyr, bad for morale ...

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
        Thumb Down

        "Disable, not kill" was the theory behind the 5.56mm in the first place...

        ... as opposed to the 7.62x54NATO already in service at that time. The theory was that in badly wounding a soldier, you effectively neutralize up to three - the downed man and the two carrying him to safety.

        Reality proved to be rather different.

        1. Andy Farley
          Black Helicopters

          Umm, no.

          The theory behind the 5.56 was that you can carry more of them. Given that most bullets are fired to suppress and a 5.56 tumbles in the body causing more damage then it's an easy call to make.

    2. Ben Bawden

      Almost

      From The Untouchables

      "They pull a knife, you pull a gun.

      He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue.

      *That's* the Chicago way!"

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Cheaper

    They would be cheaper if we let the Chinese make them.

    Then everyone can have one.

  18. SteveK

    exchange 'rain' and 'shrapnel'...

    "Why, 'round the Cape, the rain beats down so hard it makes your head bleed! "

    "So, some sort of hat is probably in order "

  19. NoneSuch
    Thumb Up

    A good sign is...

    ...when common troops ask for the weapon to be kept on the field. That alone is a positive sign.

    @ Jan 0 "Does the XM-25 fire phosporus (sic) munitions? Or were flamethrowers and/or phosphorus"

    The use of WP munitions is banned by the Geneva conventions, and several other international arms limitation agreements. So no... It does not use those types of warheads.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_phosphorus#Arms_control_status_and_military_regulations

    1. xenny
      Grenade

      a cynic writes

      I've heard tell that phosphorus use for target illumination as a flare component is acceptable

    2. Your Retarded
      FAIL

      The use of WP munitions is banned by the Geneva conventions?

      Not true. Your own refernce specifically states "the use against military targets outside civilian areas is not explicitly banned by any treaty". WP is extensively used in tracer, smoke, incendiary and illumination roles since the Great War and in the present day. It is deployed by infantry, artillery, in the air and at sea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Definitely not true

        "It is deployed by infantry, artillery, in the air and at sea"

        ...and in Falluja and in Gaza and in Lebanon too.

        1. JamesWest

          White phosphorus was used in Iraq

          White phosphorus has been illegally used in Iraq and Gaza and other places. Whiskey Pete, it was called. It was not at all to light up the battlefield but used to burn innocent human beings to the bone with their clothing still remaining intact. This is all a violation of both the spirit and letter of the law. Support of this in one for or the other makes one a monster, certainly not someone fighting for freedom and Democracy, as is pretended. All crimes you can state over and over as much as you like that they are not crimes against all kinds of law but against God and against everything good. Evil taken to never before seen extremes and then all justified with completely meritless brainless pod people drone-speak to rub salt into the wounds.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    How long before the Met start asking for this as well?

    Given the Met's previous request for the US SAW machine gun, how long do you reckon before the XM-25 appears on their shopping list?

  21. Daggersedge
    FAIL

    This might be a bit of a help to the Russians

    Who knows, I doubt it but then again it might be useful for protecting the oil pipeline to which the Russians are now partners in Afghanistan. And I'm not kidding - have a look:

    http://centralasianewswire.com/Russian-TAPI-involvement-damages-Turkmenistan-US/viewstory.aspx?id=3075

    All those US soldiers and - and those of other countres - are dying in the cause of furthering Russia's ambitions. Well done.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Boffin

      RE: This might be a bit of a help to the Russians

      So, if the Yanks insisted that the new Afghan government could only do bizz with US companies, I bet you'd be screaming just as much. Please take a look at a map, you might see that Russia is rather closer to the Afghan than the US and happens to be an advanced economy with plenty to offer the Afghanis. In fact, the US not opposing the Russian pipeline is good as it means the Russians are more likely to play nice with the Karzai government and not do something silly (such as mounting another coup like they did 1978). The Afghans had it quite good in the COld War period by staying neutral and playing off the US against the USSR, I wouldn't be surprised if Karzai does the same to give himself a bit of elbow room.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to be pedantic...

    "Even so, as one of relatively few technical initiatives designed to help the foot soldiers who actually do most of the fighting and almost all the dying in today's wars"

    No, it's the civilians living in the war-torn area who actually do almost all the dying in today's wars - in fact, this has been the case for at least a century, and the ratio of civilian:combatant deaths has been steadily shifting further towards the civilian side in every single war in the last 100 years.

    I'll probably get flamed and downvoted to oblivion for saying it, but sadly it's the truth.

    1. Ty Cobb
      Thumb Down

      No, the casualties have dropped since WWI

      We don't firebomb cities anymore. Hundreds and thousands used to die for a single target. Luckily we keep the casualities so low nowadays that a dozen innocents inadvertently injured or worse gets more media attention than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.

    2. mraak

      Not the point

      And you well know it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No, the casualties have dropped

        Civilian deaths as a percentage of all deaths in the following wars:

        WW I 10%

        WW II 50%

        Vietnam 70%

        Iraq 90%

        'Smart' weapons are only smart in terms of guidance. Their blast radius doesn't discriminate between civilian and combatant victims. A 1000lb laser-guided bomb still has a lethal blast radius of ~350metres That's over a third of a kilometre! In urban areas you can see how this could have catastrophic effects for the civilian population, no matter how 'smart' or how 'few' of these are used.

        Then there are the additional casualties caused by unexploded cluster bomblets scattered across urban areas, plus the long term effects of exposure to ceramicised depleted uranium particles which lodge in the lungs and can cause both cancers in the person ingesting and genetic birth defects and tumours in offspring. Check out the work of Dr Doug Rokke who headed up an official US DU clean-up team for more info.

  23. Tequila Joe

    bomb da bomb?

    A previous Reg article about this device mentioned: "an armour piercing variant - presumably intended for impact rather than airburst, and using a shaped-charge warhead ".

    Given the accuracy and penetration, any possible use as a way of dealing with suspected IEDs from a distance rather than sending a man in?

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
      Unhappy

      I Always Thought...

      ...an EMP weapon would be effective against most electrically triggered bombs.

      Intelligent satellite/aerostat/ground-based surveillence would also help.

  24. mraak

    Sniper killer?

    I imagine it would be very good for clearing sniper nests.

  25. HP Cynic

    Punisher

    Actually civilian casualty rates have been climbing since WW2 and it's thought they are around 90% in Iraq where every dead male is simply classed as a "dead insurgent" whether he was a genuine gun-toting defender of his country or a goat-herder minding his own business and mowed down anyway because he was in the way or it was simply fun to push some buttons. We've probably all seen the famous Apache Gun-Cam footage and the word from the troops is that this was not a freak case; it happens all the time.

    Anyway the XM-25 is a brilliant idea that seems to work - sure you can gripe about the specific comparative ranges quoted in the Afghan story but the point is this: it can be set to detonate behind / above cover. That alone is something of use and something develop further.

    Now they need to sort that production line...

    1. F111F
      Stop

      Which Rate?

      Which casualty rate are you talking about? Number of casualties per war? Casualties per target? Casualties per week? Casualties per engagement? All of those are dramatically reduced from WWII on. The only civilian casualty rate that's going up is the ratio per dead soldier, since we're losing a lot fewer soldiers these days than in wars previous (57K in 'Nam over 10 years compared to 2,200 or so for OEF in Afghanistan). Even then, the OVERALL number of civilian casualties per war (that is, a combat action where the US or Allied military personnel comprised one side of the fighting--not going to count the atrocities committed in Africa and elsewhere by locals vs locals) continues to drop. THEN you have to take into account how many civilian casualties are caused by US/Allied forces or the Taliban/Al-Qaida. Many/if not most civilian casualties, I would wager, are from suicide bombs and IEDs the Taliban/Al-Qaida favor. I'm not saying there weren't/aren't/won't be civilian casualties from US/Allied operations, but I would argue that they are a much lower ratio than those perpetrated by the Taliban/Al-Qaida.

  26. Andy Farley
    Thumb Up

    Wow

    Sounds almost as good as a 3 inch mortar for only a thousand times the cost.

    Progress!

  27. maclovinz
    Coat

    EXIT??

    Yes, because having these weapons will get us out faster!!!!

    Ah right, when we go to war, we love you long time....

    I'm gettin' me coat!

  28. TchmilFan

    Actually...

    ... a marking round isn't a stupid idea but use a NIR or UV dye (provided they can be made indelible).

    Andy Farley: I miss mucking about <ahem> I mean practising with the 3-inch.

  29. Ubuntu Is a Better Slide Rule
    Stop

    Your Trusted Heckler&Koch Salesman Suggests

    ..the G3:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heckler_%26_Koch_G3

    It certainly has the same range as the opposing machine guns, as the ammo is the same. Built for decades and surely there is lots still in stock somewhere in German or Turkish bunkers, as it was the standard infantery gun for the Bundeswehr for a very long time.

    Still I don't think that technology will fix the problem. It didn't fix it for Adolf the Mad, despite the fact he had some of the best tanks, jet engines and ballistic missiles first.

    1. fandom Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Not really

      The Russians had the best tanks, thanks to all the aluminium sent by the USA, the jet engines came to late, thanks to politicians delaying the project, and the ballistic missiles help the Germans lose the war, due to all the planes that weren't build which would have caused a lot more damage to the allies.

      1. Ubuntu Is a Better Slide Rule
        Stop

        @fandom: Technology

        I was referring to the Tiger tanks, not to the early ones, which were clearly inferior to the T34. I think you validated my statement - technology does not win wars, but broad diplomatic support will do.

        Germany tried a Strategy of Technology concept, but was simply overwhelmed by relentless pounding of the Red Army and the USAAF (and some RAF). The whole premise of 200 million people fighting against the rest of the world was the mistake, not the technicalities whether to build ballistic missiles or bombers.

        The premise that this grenade launcher will subdue the Afghans is equally wrong. Only if we are ready to jail and reeducate something like 300 million people (Afpak, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi), there is a prospect of "eliminating terror". Better dust off Stalin's techniques, if you want to go that route.

        So, by logical reasoning, Withdraw and Isolate is the only feasible option. A plain Uzi and two trained american eyes in a train in Alpharetta will be infinitely more effective than this grenade launcher in a cold valley in Crackistan.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Grenade

      RE: Your Trusted Heckler&Koch Salesman Suggests

      Problem is the Germans somehow managed to ship just about all their G3s to other countries, despite government controls meant to keep them safely stored away. Many turned up in Croat hands in the former Yugoslavian wars.

      We did have just as good a weapon in the old SLR (and a much cheaper one), but we have been sending them as "aid" to African countries and selling them to US collectors for so long now we've got none left, and had to go buy a 7.62mm M16 variant as the new L129A1 marksman weapon. Either way, despite the hype around the old NATO catridge, it still takes real skill and a lot of practice to hit a small target (like a prone PKM gunner) with an SLR or G3 at 500+m, let alone 1500m. You are better off with an area effect weapon (that's the smarty-pants way of saying an explosive warhead that shreds the area with shrapnel) such as the Javelin or the XM-25. The Javelin is a very expensive way to counter snipers and PKM gunners, and the patrols can only carry so many, so at least the XM-25 offers more combat persistance. Though I'd say the Javelin offers much more chance of a close miss still killing all the baddies in one go.

      /it-go-BANG icon, for obvious reasons.

  30. Ubuntu Is a Better Slide Rule
    Go

    Introducing the A1 Toybolt

    ..just buy yourself a large remote-controlled modelplane, add a G3, camera and video transmitter. That gives you beyond-horizon capability. The other side can't reciprocate, because we are better at jamming and could even bring in 20mm Flak.

    http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/12/how-a-rc-airplane-buzzed-the-statue-of-liberty-with-no-arrests.ars

    You've got one in IWM:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinmetall_20mm_Twin_Anti-Aircraft_Cannon

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