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 …

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  1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
    Grenade

    Sir

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

  2. bitten
    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.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Must resist.

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

  4. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Andy Tunnah

      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

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      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?

    3. James Hughes 1

      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.

      1. Hud Dunlap
        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.

        1. Bounty

          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.

        2. Marvin the Martian
          Stop

          "texas ol' boy" stories

          The clue is in the word "stories".

        3. Old Marcus

          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.

      2. Desk Jockey
        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?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby
          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.

  5. Aaron Em

    "Holy shit" rifle

    It's a frag grenade that throws itself!

  6. Stevie 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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Organic

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

  7. Huey
    Alert

    Oh Crap

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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....

  8. Fr. Ted Crilly
    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.

  9. Dave Bell
    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!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    May I ask?

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

    1. Brutus
      Grenade

      It has chips in in!

      'nuff said.

      1. TheRealRoland
        Happy

        Surely...

        You mean crisps?

        1. Brutus
          Grenade

          @TheRealRoland

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

    2. A. Coatsworth
      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!

  11. Ian Ferguson
    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.

    1. Basic
      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)

  12. Gary F
    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. :-)

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      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...

    2. Marvin the Martian
      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.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    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!

  14. Thomas 18
    Terminator

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

    Boooooooooo

  15. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  16. Xander
    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

  17. Andy 57
    Grenade

    SLR

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. 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

  18. Frantisek Janak
    Coat

    Meh liek

    Looks blast-tastic!

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

  19. CountZero
    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.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    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.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    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?

  22. The_Police!
    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.

  23. Charles E

    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.

  24. Brian Miller

    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."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Tracers point both ways

      Right?

    2. Matt Bryant 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.

  25. David Neil
    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

  26. heyrick Silver badge

    Judge Dredd maybe...

    ...but Batou it's not.

    1. Peter Gathercole 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.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Great!

    Now American troops will be able to kill British troops even when they hide behind corners.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Coat

      Nah.

      British troops only hide round corners from things they're afraid of. Therefore Yanks always get to shoot at 'em in the open.

      Whether the British troops aren't afraid of 'em 'cos they're not expecting to be shot at or just 'cos they think they're crap is open to discussion......

  28. peter collard
    Happy

    Snipers rule ok

    Perhaps you've not heard of Corporal Harrison who took out 2 Taliban on a machine gun post with his L115A3 british made sniper rifle at a range of 1.54 miles - with only 2 shots.

    The gun is rated at 1100m+ for first shot kill and the ammo costs the same as a pint of beer.

    As it weighs only 6.8kg I suspect its a lot more practical for rapid deployment

    1. Robert Hill
      Coat

      Not THAT reliable...

      Yes, you can hit at that range if you are an accomplished sniper, but ONLY if the winds are not shifty and strong, and of course if your target isn't moving too fast. Great when it works, and worthy of a pint for the sniper, but if you are defending against massed enemy attack at range you may need something that you can deploy in larger quantity and is guided. This weapon looks like a nice option.

      Whenever someone tells tale of great sniper shots, I always want to ask - but how many rounds did he MISS at that range?

      Mine's the one with the RPA Quadlock slung across the back...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cdn Sniper

    He bested Carlos Hathcock's record 2500 yd kill in Vietnam with a roughly 2400 meter shot. Details can be found on forums and TV shows.

  30. nhw
    FAIL

    Grenade fragment velocity >> grenade velocity

    CountZero: before going on about a physics fail, you might want to consider the shape of the fragment cloud of a grenade detonating in all directions at 2000 feet per second while moving forward at a few hundred feet per second. Going to look like a bit like an egg, with the 'pointy end' along the axis of travel.

    Not very much like a cone, in other words.

    Fail for physics fail fail.

  31. alien anthropologist
    Grenade

    Laser guided squad munitions

    Laser guided 60mm patmor (patrol mortar) was developed back in the 80's here over the pond. Sure, the standard 60mm patmor was heavy to cart around (tube, base plate and rounds)... but the assault rifle of today is only really effective at up to 400m or so. The good old 40mm is also pretty useless at longer ranges.

    If the engagements happens at 700m or more on average, I would have the platoon pack more LMG's and make liberal use of the old 60mm. And with laser guidance... that will have pin point accuracy to deal with the attackers.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Unhappy

      RE: Laser guided squad munitions

      Not just the Yanks. In the UK we had a program called Merlin for an anti-armour weapon that could be launched from 5km away by L16 81mm mortar, that would seek out armour in the target area by millimetric radar. I don't think it ever made it into production, but some genius suggested something similar for the 51mm mortar that is still lugged around at the platoon level. The PTB (Powers That Be, aka The Brass) didn't think much of the idea, said the 51mm round didn't have enough range. So the boffins went away and made a two-stage 51mm round, with a small charge to launch it out of the tube and a rocket to send it up to 3000m from where it could steer down onto the target, guided by laser or a Maverick-style TV monitor. The new 51mm round was almost as heavy as the normal 81mm round, but the 51mm mortar was unchanged so still much more portable than the 81mm version. However, the PTB's weren't interested, as there wasn't enough space in the warhead for a shaped charge large enough to punch through the turret armour of a T-80 tank. The problem was they were completely fixated with the old NATO scenario of facing a Soviet tank invasion across the German plains, who would needed an infantry-portable precision weapon that delivered a grenade-sized fragmentation warhead out to only 2km?

      So, now we're in a different war scenario, spending millions on looking for a lightweight solution that can hit MG nests quickly at medium ranges....

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How very very sad...

    ... that boffins spend huge swathes of cash developing killing machines, instead of spending huge swathes of cash fixing the planet, researching alternative fuels, water desalination, flood defenses, farming techniques.

    To geeks who think this is a cool 'gadget', perhaps you'd like to visit a field hospital sometime.

    How about a trip to Afghanistan, eh? Watch your buddies get shot to pieces. Maybe see some kids as the victims of this particular weapon? Cool huh?

    Sickening. Just shows how truly fucked up this world is.

    1. Vehlin
      Thumb Down

      How very very short sighted...

      Personally I'd rather go see my buddies come back from Afghanistan than attend their funeral. I'd rather see money spent on better kit than extra coffins thanks.

  33. Ru
    Grenade

    Re: How very very sad

    > To geeks who think this is a cool 'gadget'

    You know, I think the "guys on the ground" who are getting "machinegunned" by the "taliban" might think this is a "cool" "gadget" "too". You should pay a visit to a hospital where a few of them have ended up, and tell em how selfish they're being.

    But thank you for your patronage, dragging us poor old nerds out of our ivory towers. Gosh, we'd never understand what the real world was like without folks like you. You should tell more folks that war is bad, mmkay, and I'm sure it'll be stopped right away!

    1. serviceWithASmile
      Grenade

      wow

      roflstomped.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dredd didn't have voice selection!

    He had a dial. The comic would either show an inset with a gloved hand setting the dial or it would show him shouting his choice.

    /geek

    Also agree with others on here: nice tech, pity it can't be used for something other than murdering people.

  35. the bat
    Thumb Down

    i hope is EMP proof & g-Shock as well

    Let's hope it is EMP proof as well since all the other guy has to do is hit it with an EMP burst and it is piece of useless junk!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Battlefield EMP

      You've been playing too much "Battlefield 2142". To my knowledge, there is no EMP weapon available at present that is not nuclear, especially to people like the Taliban.

      If they had nukes, I'm sure that they would not be using them to disable american technology on the battlefield. Much richer pickings in Pakistan or India, and can you imagine what one would do in New York or Washington?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Unhappy

        Sad to think the only enemy out there you know of is the taliban

        So sad to think the only enemy out there you know of is the taliban. Electro magnetic pulse weapons do exist my friend and nuclear power isn't a required source.

  36. playtime
    Flame

    Points of information

    A MANPAD (MAN-Portable Air Defense) is sod all use against a tank ;)

    The Lawgiver couldn't explode a bullet at a pre-set range. It was a Sov beam-weapon that could pass through solid matter and explode at a manually-selected range in the story 'War' when Dredd was running Luna-1 (Luna City? - can't remember) [Prog 51]. It was defeated by running like buggery towards the enemy, the enemy not able to set the correct range quick enough, and giving them the old 'standard execution' round.

  37. John 62

    5th Element?

    Gary Oldman was selling something pretty fancy with guided bullets to those pig-faced things.

    On a slightly related note, if there's a Beverly Hills Cop 4, Serge should be selling these to Achwell.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yea it's all cool fun and games....

    .....and then someone loses a son in the desert and it's all "boo hoo it's so sad" ....

    Never learn.....

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