The Army’s XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System is an impressive weapon. It is an air-burst gernade launcher that fires 25mm grenades, which can be set to explode in mid-air at precise distances, allowing shooters to hit targets that are shielded from the front. In a word, it’s badass. And Army troops who have tested it in Afghanistan have aptly nicknamed it “the punisher.” In case you wanted to see how this thing works, check out this video:
Now, the Marine Corps wants its own air-burst gernade launcher. However, they would like one that fires a larger, more lethal 40mm round.
What led the Marine Corps to seek out a CDTE system was a combination of hearing word of the XM25’s early success and performance and complaints from Marines in Afghanistan regarding their standard 40mm grenade launchers, which were not performing well in the mountainous terrain. According to Military.com, Marines shooting high-angle shots with the M203 grenade launcher can cause the round to flip over in some cases, reducing its accuracy.
“The ballistics are all over the place — if the round doesn’t nose over; if it goes down tail first, it reverses the spin,” Charles Clark III, Infantry Weapons Capabilities Integration Officer for the Marine Corps Fires and Maneuver Integration Division, explaining to Military.com that the Corps wants to improve its ability to engage the enemy with exploding munitions between hand grenade range, which is roughly 30 meters and close-in 60mm mortar range, which is about 200 meters.
“To do that, we realized you are probably going to have to have an air-burst capability,” he said.
While the Marines are interested in the XM25, they are skeptical that 25mm rounds will get the job done against insurgents who are deeply embedded (or perhaps, they’re just trying to outdo the Army).
“I have not seen a detailed analysis on the [XM25’s] lethality,” Clark told Military.com. “We think we can get more lethality out of a 40mm round.”
And although feedback has been good from soldiers using the XM25 in combat, there has yet to be an official analysis regarding its performance.
“There is some specific feedback we have been receiving from soldiers of the capability of that weapon, what it is doing out there operationally, but I can’t share with you,” Command Sgt. Major Bernard McPherson, CSM of Program Executive Office Soldier, told reporters at the Pentagon in October.
According to Army officials, the effectiveness of the 25mm round will be formally evaluated in range tests before it is approved for full fielding.
Another hang-up with the XM25 is its price tag. At roughly $30,000 a pop, they aren’t exactly cheap. That’s just too expensive, Clark said.
Currently, there are five XM25 prototypes being tested in Afghanistan. And Congress has appropriated an additional $24.7 million to purchase 36 more XM25s.
And as far as a working 40mm CDTE system, the Israeli military have developed one. It’s known as the Multi Purpose Rifle System and is made by Israel Military Industries Ltd.
But it doesn’t appear to be a viable option at the moment. At least not for the Marines.
“There are some 40mm air-burst systems out there, commercially available — the Israelis have one … but I don’t think that anyone has the solution right now,” Clark said.
In addition to the M203 launcher, the Marines hope to find a system that also works with its M32A1 multi-shot grenade launcher, Military.com reported.
“If you have an air-burst capability on a multi-shot grenade launcher, you would be wrecking people,” Clark said.