The following is a report from the Daily Telegraph on 02.12.2010. The heading, "In Case You Missed It", is not a punning reference to the story or to the photograph above, it is a sometimes heading that is used to reprint a story that might have been missed but is deserving of being brought to attention. In this case, it is a reminder that as the technology becomes smarter, as the communications become faster, as the devices become more complex, so the machines of war and of killing become more deadly.
THE US army is to begin using a futuristic rifle that fires radio-controlled "smart" bullets in Afghanistan for the first time, it has emerged.
The XM25 rifle uses bullets that are programmed to explode when they have travelled a set distance, allowing enemies to be targeted no matter where they are hiding. The rifle also has a range of 2,300 feet making it possible to hit targets which are well out of the reach of conventional rifles.
The XM25 is being developed specially for the U.S. army and will be deployed with troops from later this month, it was revealed today. The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System has a range of roughly 2,300 feet (700 metres) and is to be deployed in Afghanistan this month The rifle's gunsight uses a laser rangefinder to determine the exact distance to the obstruction, after which the soldier can add or subtract up to 3 metres from that distance to enable the bullets to clear the barrier and explode above or beside the target. Soldiers will be able to use them to target snipers hidden in trenches rather than calling in air strikes.
The 25-millimetre round contains a chip that receives a radio signal from the gunsight as to the precise distance to the target. Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, project manager for the system, described the weapon as a game-changer that other nations will try and copy. "With this weapon system, we take away cover from (enemy targets) forever," Lt. Col. Lehner told Fox News. He expects the Army to buy 12,500 of the XM25 rifles this year, enough for every member of the infantry and special forces.
“Tactics are going to have to be rewritten. The only thing we can see (enemies) being able to do is run away. This is a game-changer. The enemy has learned to get cover, for hundreds if not thousands of years. Well, they can't do that anymore. We're taking that cover from them and there's only two outcomes: We're going to get you behind that cover or force you to flee."
Experts say the rifle means that enemy troops will no longer be safe if they take cover. The XM25 appears the perfect weapon for street-to-street fighting that troops in Afghanistan have to engage in, with enemy fighters hiding behind walls and only breaking cover to fire occasionally. The weapon's laser finder would work out how far away the enemy was and then the US soldier would add one metre using a button near the trigger. When fired, the explosive round would carry exactly one metre past the wall and explode with the force of a hand grenade above the Taliban fighter.
The army's project manager for new weapons, Douglas Tamilio, said: "This is the first leap-ahead technology for troops that we've been able to develop and deploy."
A patent granted to the bullet's maker, Alliant Techsystems, reveals that the chip can calculate how far it has travelled.
"You could shoot a Javelin missile, and it would cost 43,000. These rounds will end up costing 15.50 apiece. They're relatively cheap," Mr Tamilio said.
The rifle will initially use high-explosive rounds, but its makers say that it might later use versions with smaller explosive charges that aim to stun rather than kill.