The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System (CDTE for short) commonly nicknamed "The Punisher", was a computerized magazine-fed semi-automatic grenade launcher which used 25×40mm airburst grenades. The CDTE label was due to some obtuse Army doctrinal issues under which it was not actually classified as a grenade launcher.

History[edit | edit source]

The XM25 was conceived in 2010 as an offshoot of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon program; in 2003, when the XM29 OICW was still being tested, and it was decided that the XM29 be experimented as two separate platforms instead of one combination weapon, leading to the assault rifle module being developed into the XM8 and the grenade launcher portion being developed into the XM25.

Following a double-feed malfunction leading to an out-of-battery detonation during live-fire training in February 2013, the Army ordered all XM25s removed from the field for further testing. In June of the same year, the Senate Armed Services Committee recommended the 2014 budget eliminate funding for the 1,400 launchers intended to be purchased that year; this was misinterpreted by some as meaning the cancellation of the entire XM25 program, but the Army renewed its commitment to fielding the XM25 in August 2013. In September 2014 the main contractor, ATK, was awarded a $33.4 million contract to complete the weapon's engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase within the next two years, with the procurement phase delayed to 2017. 

Early mock-ups used a polymer body very reminiscent of the Heckler & Koch XM8, but more recent pre-production versions had a far more conventional appearance. The final version appeared to have gone to halfway between the mockups and the pre-production version, though it is not clear if the displayed weapon was a live XM25 or a mockup. 

In late 2015 a new pre-production version was showcased, fitted with an improved, more compact fire control system with a 3x scope replacing the older 2x scope. In August 2016, the Defense Department Inspector General's Office issued a heavily-redacted report in which they recommended the Army "determine whether to proceed with or cancel the XM25 program after reviewing the results of the 2016 Governmental testing," which was scheduled to conclude in fall 2016. 

In early 2017 it emerged that Orbital ATK had filed a lawsuit against Heckler & Koch seeking damages of $27 million for failure to deliver 20 additional prototypes after Heckler & Koch claimed the weapon could potentially violate the St. Petersburg Declaration of 1868 banning explosive projectiles weighing less than 400 grams (despite that Germany is not a signatory of the St. Petersburg Declaration since at the time Germany did not exist, that the United States is not a signatory either, that the Declaration only applies to wars between the 20 signatory nations, and that the treaty specifically says that it does not apply to technology other than that which existed when it was written). It is not particularly clear why this was suddenly an issue when HK had been working on small airburst munitions with ATK for over twenty years. ATK claimed this had jeopardised the entire program, and also sought the transfer of intellectual property from Heckler & Koch, meaning they would not be the manufacturer of future XM25s. H&K ultimately settled out of court in July 2018, reportedly paying ATK $7.5 million.

On April 5, 2017, the US Army terminated its contract with Orbital ATK, citing the failure to deliver the 20 additional prototypes or offer any suitable replacement. On July 24, 2018 the Army signed a memorandum terminating the entire XM25 program as part of waste-cutting measures: their settlement with H&K and ATK for their failure to complete the contract means they also received all data and assets related to the program from both companies.[1]

Design details[edit | edit source]

The XM25 is a magazine-fed semiautomatic grenade launcher with a 4 round magazine. Its main feature is the use of "smart" airbusting grenade rounds developed from the OICW program, which are designed to have greater lethality against troops in cover. Its scope incorporates a laser rangefinder which, when used to lase the target, sets a detonation distance for the chambered round. The grenade determines how far it has flown, and thus when to explode, by the number of times it has rotated: this is similar to the arming system of a conventional 40mm grenade round.

The distance to detonation, once set, can be adjusted manually using buttons located near the grip, with a maximum of plus or minus 3 meters from the measured range. This feature was intended to allow, for example, the operator to lase the outside wall of a building and then set the grenade to explode inside when fired through a window.

References[edit | edit source]

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