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XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon
By: Stalker

Published : 9th October 2004
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XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon

The Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) is the lethality element of the Land Warrior program. It is also planned to be fielded as a stand-alone system. The OICW, recently designated as XM29 by the US Army, is a developmental infantry weapon system that will revolutionize the close combat fight by substantially improving the infantry soldier's effectiveness.

The XM29: a unique, full-solution target acquisition/fire control system combined with precision 20mm air bursting fragmenation.

OICW gives the infantry soldier a capability to acquire targets and precisely detonate an air bursting 20mm projectile approximately 1 meter over the threat or alternatively on impact. These capabilities are required out to ranges 2-3 times the existing M16/M4/M203 system, or up to 10 football fields. The system provides both an integrated day and night battlefield sight capability allowing effective weapon usage 24 hours a day.

The XM29 can fire a single shot or a 2-round-burst using the same round as an M16 (5.56mm). The upper barrel fires a 20mm high explosive air-bursting fragmentation round at a distance of more than half a mile away. The fragmentation rounds are hold in a six-round magazine in the butt of the gun. The fragmentation round is air-bursting, that means, it detonates 1 meter above the target, what can be very beneficial when the target is behind an objective.

The OICW has a window mode that can be used to reach the enemy inside a building. A normal round will explode upon the impact of a window, limiting its destructive power. In the window mode the round delays exploding by a few milliseconds when it strikes the window, so the lethal area is increased inside a room. A safety mode exists: The round has an 8 seconds self destruct mode, that means after being fired the round will detonate in 8 seconds regardless of impact.

The sight of the OICW uses Direct View Optics with Video Enhancements which will be like looking at a TV screen.

The full-solution target acquisition fire control has a laser range finder, direct view optics, integrated thermal imager, ballistic computer, fuze setter, environmental sensors, and compass.

The full-solution fire control begins with the soldier lasing to the target for a range reading. The range is fed into the ballistic computer, and the data is transmitted to the HEAB round inductively. The fire control system provides the appropriate adjusted aim point for the target to the chambered round. The round is fired and explodes at the precise range over the target with devastating effect. The system provides greater than five times the lethality at twice the range of today's conventional systems and, at the same time, reduces soldier combat exposure time, enhancing survivability.

The OICW weapon will consist of two separable subsystems, an HE module, and a KE module, with a single trigger and a selector to switch between those modules. The KE module will utilize standard 5.56mm ammunition and have semi-automatic and burst modes equivalent to the M4 carbine. The HE subsystem will fire the HEAB ammunition in all four fuzing modes. The weapon will be as reliable as the M16/M4.

While an M16 costs under $1000, the XM29 may cost $10,000. That is because OICW is a single system consisting of a fire control and combinatorial weapon. The functions contained within the system include the add-ons that are used on the M16 or M4 such as optics, thermal weapon system, and aim light.

The target acquisition fire control is being upgraded, primarily focusing on reducing weight by integrating the latest laser, sensor, optics, electronics, and material technologies. It incorporates improved, low-weight optics for daylight viewing and integrated thermal optics for use at night. As the lethal element of the Land Warrior, it has been designed to integrate with the Land Warrior, allowing the XM29 to communicate from the fire control to the Land Warrior heads-up display and also to accommodate power sharing between systems.

The weapon is also being upgraded with a focus on weight reduction and ruggedization. Weight optimization is the primary driver for every weapon piece part and component. The program team is evaluating alternate weapon operating principles that support weight reduction. Additional enhancements are also being made to ensure ruggedness and boresight retention between the 5.56mm barrel, 20mm barrel, and fire control. A weapons expert also indicates that the 25mm projectile will probably replace the current 20mm one that is in use for testing at the moment.

Not all M4s/M16s will be replaced by the XM29, the current US Army Basis of Issue is 4 OICWs per 9-man squad.

Stalker