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It’s not too often I get to play with military-grade weaponry, and the military is usually pretty wary about reporters handling firearms (.pdf). But yesterday was an exception: I traveled to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, to see some of the latest improvements in soldier weaponry. Who wouldn’t pass up the chance to feel the sinus-clearing effects of the M2 .50-caliber machine gun? The invite came from Program Executive Office (PEO) Soldier, the Army organization that oversees the development and procurement of soldier weapons and gear?
Reporters had the chance to test out a range of weapons, from the M4 Carbine to the M107 sniper rifle. It was also an opportunity for the Army to show off the XM25 airburst weapon. The XM25 is an advanced grenade launcher that fires a smart 25mm round automatically programmed to go off just above or behind its target: The idea is to create a devastating, pinpoint-accurate infantry weapon that can hit targets that are “in defilade” (behind a wall, or dug into the ground).
This screen grab from a high-speed camera shows the round detonating just inside a window target. Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller, the head of PEO Soldier, told reporters that the $30,000 weapon had already been delivered to the Special Forces and they “going to be taking it downrange this summer.”