Berenice Baker: What is the current status of the XM-25 programme?
Jason Krull: We don't have a lot of updates to provide at this time as we are in the final stages of development and expect to reach Milestone C around our government's fiscal year 2017 (the point at which the programme is deemed ready for initial production that will lead up to full production and fielding). Over the course of the next two years, we will be conducting pre-production qualification tests (government conducted). Based on the findings of those tests, we will work with the government's programme team to refine the weapon's design and then conduct a series of final qualification tests prior to production. Budget for XM25 production is projected in the US Government's FY2017 budget.
BB: What is the aiming and firing experience of the soldier using IAWS?
JK: We've found that a soldier, with average marksmanship skills, can initially pick up the weapon and accurately acquire a target with the fire control system in 15 seconds or less without much training. With increased time for familiarity, training and experience, that same process can be reduced to that of an ordinary rifle where a soldier can acquire and engage a target almost instantly as the systems fire controls are at their fingertips (ambidextrous) and the site offers a great field of view for day and night operations.
BB: The High Explosive Air Burst (HEAB) rounds have received most coverage but could you explain the other types of ammo the IAWS can fire?
JK: It currently fires 25mm HEAB, armour piercing amd training rounds. Less than leathal (blunt), less than lethal (airburst) and door breaching rounds are planned for future development.
BB: What kind of feedback have you received form soldiers who tested the system?
JK: We've received very positive feedback during the Army's forward operational assessments where the weapons were used in theatre for training and combat. During the first FOA, soldiers did not want to give up the weapons for their patrols when the FOA was complete.
BB: What kinds of tests are involved in pre-qualification?
JK: Pre-qualification tests will ensure that the weapon is effective, reliable and safe. So the tests will involve both the weapon and the ammunition to ensure that in their current state, a decision to produce and field them is backed with the performance data necessary that proves the system is ready to be fielded for use by soldiers.
BB: Is ATK currently working on any other advanced weapons programmes?
JK: Our division, Armament Systems, is working on several advanced capabilities for soldiers. This ranges from the next generation M829E4, 120mm KE tank ammunition, 30mm airbursting ammunition for use with our MK44 Bushmaster chain guns, precision guidance kits for mortars (APMI - 120mm smooth bore artillery and PERM or Precision Extended Range Mortar for the US Marine Corps 120mm rifled mortar) precision guidance fuse for 155mm artillery (known as Precision Guidance Kit or PGK) precision miniature weapons for use with UAVs and manned aircraft, and we're reintroducing a 7.62mm coaxial gun for those customers who wish to replace existing guns or add them to future combat vehicle programmes. We're also able to provide our MK44 Bushmaster Chain Gun in both 40mm variants or provide the ability to upgun a 30mm cannon to 40mm cannon for those who wish to have that capability to support both 40 and 30mm capability on a weapons platform.