South Korea has developed a new
infantry weapon, the XK-11[VIDEO], that appears to be identical in concept of the U.S.
Army XM-29 (or OICW, for Objective Individual Combat Weapon). The South Korean
version weighs 13.4 pounds and combines a 5.56mm rifle with one firing 20mm,
computer and laser controlled, shells. The 18 pound XM-29 was developed, in the
1990s, as a replacement for the 40mm grenade launcher. The 40mm rounds weigh 19
ounces each, the 20mm OICW round weighs half that.
were several major problems with the OICW. It was too heavy and ungainly, and
the 20mm "smart shell" it fired did not appear capable of effectively
putting enemy troops out of action. So, in August, 2003, it was decided to take
the 5.56mm portion of the OICW and develop it as a separate weapon (the XM-8)
and develop the grenade launcher part that fired the "smart shell" as
the XM-25. But the XM-25 would use a 25mm shell, which would generate 50
percent more fragments (and heavier ones at that) than the 20mm shell of the
OICW.The XM25 was expected to reach the
troops by 2008. But that didn't happen, as tests were disappointing.
and 25mm "smart shells" use a computer controlled fuze. The XM-25
operator can select four different firing modes via a selector switch on the
weapon. The four modes include "Bursting" (airburst). For this to
work, the soldier first finds the target via the weapons sighting system. The
sight includes a laser range finder and the ability to select and adjust the
range shown in the sight picture. For an air burst, the soldier aims at an
enemy position and fires a round. The shell is optimized to spray
incapacitating (wounding or killing) fragments in a roughly six meter radius.
Thus if enemy troops are seen moving near trees or buildings at a long distance
(over 500 meters), the weapon has a good chance of getting them with one shot.
M-16s are not very accurate at that range, and the enemy troops will dive for
cover as soon as M-16 bullets hit around them. With smart shells, you get one
(or a few) accurate shots and the element of surprise.
Korean weapon appears to operate the same way as the 20mm shell of the XM-29.
The South Koreans say they will issue the XK-11 in two years, on the basis of
two weapons per squad (an infantry unit containing 10-12 men). Each XK-11 costs
about $16,000, which is 20 percent cheaper than the XM-29. It's unclear if the
South Koreans found solutions to the problems the XM-29 and XM-25 encountered,
or simply developed an improved XM-29 and decided it was useful in small
numbers. The South Korean announcement made no mention of those American