The future has arrived for the U.S. military: guns that kill enemies behind walls.
Last week, the Army deployed in Afghanistan prototypes of its first-ever programmable "smart" grenade launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon called the XM25 that uses micro-chipped exploding ammunition to target and kill the enemy, Agence France Presse reports.
What is it that that makes this weapon special? The only way to be safe from it is inside a closed, concrete bunker.
The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System fires 25mm air-bursting shells up to 2,300 feet, making it most closely related to the grenade launcher, but with a range greater than most rifles used by the Army, AFP reports.
Let's say enemy fighter pops up from behind a wall to fire at U.S. troops and then takes cover before they can respond. An XM25 gunner can then use the laser range finder to get the distance to the wall, program the explosive to go off a few feet behind it, fire over the wall, and then watch as lethal shell fragments rain down from above.
The 12-pound, 29-inch system, which was designed by Minnesota's Alliant Techsystems, costs up to $35,000 per unit and, while highly sophisticated, is easy enough to use that soldiers become proficient within minutes, reports Fox News.
"For well over a week, it's been actively on patrols, and in various combat outposts in areas that are hot," said Lieutenant Colonel Chris Lehner, program manager for the XM25, to the AFP. "This is the first time we're putting smart technology into the hands of the individual soldier.
"It's giving them the edge," he said, in the harsh Afghan landscape where Islamist extremists have vexed US troops using centuries-old techniques of popping up from behind cover to engage. "Now we're taking that away from the enemy forever."
PEO Soldier says studies show the XM25 is 300 percent more effective than current weapons at the squad level, AFP reports.
The revolutionary advance involves an array of sights, sensors and lasers that reads the distance to the target, assesses elements such as air pressure, temperature, and ballistics and then sends that data to the microchip embedded in the XM25 shell before it is launched.
The Pentagon plans to purchase at least 12,500 of the guns beginning next year, enough for one in each Infantry squad and Special Forces team, AFP reports.