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Weapons: South Korea Exports Its Super Rifle
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May 14, 2010: South Korea has its first export customer for its new K-11 20mm infantry rifle, with an order from the UAE (United Arab Emirates) for the $14,000 20mm/5.56mm weapon. The UAE is buying 40 K-11s initially, to try them out.

It was two years ago that South Korea revealed it had developed the K-11, which 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.

But there 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 XM-25 was expected to reach the troops by 2008. But that didn't happen, as tests were disappointing. U.S. troops have still not received the XM-25, but South Korean troops began getting the K-11 last year.

The 20mm 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.

The South Korean weapon appears to operate the same way as the 20mm shell of the XM-29. The South Koreans plan to issue the K-11, on the basis of two weapons per squad (an infantry unit containing 10-12 men). The K-11 is about 25 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 Koreans have found that the 20mm smart shell is effective out to about 500 meters.

 

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trenchsol       5/14/2010 9:00:26 AM
Would it make sense to implement OICW type of weapon with larger grenade fired from the barrel, like those fired from M1, M14 and FN FAL ?
 
DG

 
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WarNerd       5/14/2010 2:45:56 PM

Would it make sense to implement OICW type of weapon with larger grenade fired from the barrel, like those fired from M1, M14 and FN FAL ?

No.
 
The OICW concept is a direct fire weapon with an effective range of 500m against a window size target (approximatly 1m2), which requiring a relatively flat trajectory and controllable recoil.  This is why nearly all the designs are 25mm or smaller with muzzle velocities in the neighborhood of 300m/sec.
 
Muzzle fired rifle grenades are used more like mortars except at extremely close ranges (<50m) because of their low velocity of 40m.sec (5.56mm ball) to 90m/sec (30-06 ballistic cartridge or equivalent).  The lack of proper sights and the high recoil make these a rather inaccurate area effect weapon when fired indirect, the Taliban has been using the much larger RPG rounds the same way to little effect.  Most recent 'western' rifle grenade usage has been restricted to smoke or illumination, though the Israeli's are supposed to have a developed several recon rounds.  Rifle grenades also block the barrel so that the weapon cannot be used defensively until the grenade is discharged.  
 
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YelliChink       5/14/2010 3:26:41 PM

Muzzle fired rifle grenades are used more like mortars except at extremely close ranges (<50m) because of their low velocity of 40m.sec (5.56mm ball) to 90m/sec (30-06 ballistic cartridge or equivalent).  The lack of proper sights and the high recoil make these a rather inaccurate area effect weapon when fired indirect, the Taliban has been using the much larger RPG rounds the same way to little effect.  Most recent 'western' rifle grenade usage has been restricted to smoke or illumination, though the Israeli's are supposed to have a developed several recon rounds.  Rifle grenades also block the barrel so that the weapon cannot be used defensively until the grenade is discharged.  


Do you happen to have info on performance of M2/M3 Carl Gustav in Afghanistan?
 
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WarNerd       5/14/2010 6:52:32 PM

Do you happen to have info on performance of M2/M3 Carl Gustav in Afghanistan?
 
Sadly, no.
 
The M2/M3 Carl Gustav is a recoilless rifle, not a grenade launcher.  It is probably the finest weapon of it's type currently available.
 
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cwDeici       5/19/2010 12:05:43 AM
The XM series is brilliant, and the remaining flaws would have (in XM-8s case) and are being ironed out.
 
Please don't mention the melting plastic handguard thing, that was solved several years ago.
 
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cwDeici       5/19/2010 12:06:13 AM
I cna only hope the 29 brings back the 8.
 
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StobieWan       5/19/2010 5:40:16 PM
You were told quite directly by a serving soldier who participated in operational field testing for the XM-8 that it was a pile of poo and all the differences in reliability were directly attributable to methodology in cleaning and operation - I'm assuming direct experience is not relevant then?

Ian

 
The XM series is brilliant, and the remaining flaws would have (in XM-8s case) and are being ironed out.

 

Please don't mention the melting plastic handguard thing, that was solved several years ago.


 
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gf0012-aust       5/19/2010 6:30:10 PM


Do you happen to have info on performance of M2/M3 Carl Gustav in Afghanistan?

The CG is a recoilless weapon.  Thye manufacturers have developed the existing rounds available even further to make it even more flexible than prev.  Its being used as a soft/hard skin weapon, bunker buster and emplacement clearer...
 
a v nice piece of kit.
 



 
 
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gf0012-aust       5/19/2010 6:37:56 PM

Would it make sense to implement OICW type of weapon with larger grenade fired from the barrel, like those fired from M1, M14 and FN FAL ?

DG

There are a number of "clip on" over and unders available for extant weapons.  There are also the future O&U concepts like the metalstorm grenade launcher which have been quite successful in baliistic trials.  the practicalities of their employment (reloads, carriage, logistics, tls etc...) are still being contested, although functionaly, the differences in those requirements are pretty similar.  there are other issues such as a new loggie line item that come into play.
 
new gucci weapons are NFG if they complicate the loggie footprint to the detriment of other force requirements (beans and bullets issue)
 
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HeavyD       9/20/2010 7:34:49 PM
Clearly what is needed is a 30mm/40mm RAP round, where a small rocket charge increases velocity without increasing recoil.
 
THere are several 'soft launch' reckless systems like gustav in development, but none have the computer controlled airburst capability that I know of.  Also much bigger system, with rounds weighing several KGs and dedicated launchers.
 
 
 
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