The United States Army is celebrating its latest technological advancement on the battlefield -- the new XM25 grenade launcher or, as many soldiers have affectionately nicknamed it, "The Punisher."
The weapon was first used last December and has since seen action in at least nine engagements, disrupting two insurgent attacks on observation posts, taking out two PKM machine gun positions and destroying four ambush sites, the Army Times reports.
One such engagement left the enemy either "so badly wounded or so freaking scared" that he dropped his weapon and ran, Lt. Col. Christopher Lehner, Program Manager for Individuals Weapons said.
Best of all, there have been no reported casualties among ground units carrying the XM25 in any of those nine engagements.
“No longer can the enemy shoot at American forces, then hide behind something,” said Brig. Gen. Peter Fuller of Program Executive Office Soldier. "We're going to reach out and touch you."
“This is a revolutionary weapon. This is a game-changer," he added.
The XM25 has a target acquisition system that calculates range with the push of a button. The data is transferred to an electronic fuse, enabling the 25mm round to explode over the target and rain shell fragments on the enemy.
All five prototypes were sent to Afghanistan in November. Officials are putting the final touches on data and analysis, but said Col. Douglas Tamilio, project manager for soldier weapons, said the weapons “performed flawlessly” and no maintenance issues showed.
Soldiers have been so pleased with the XM25 that they are carrying it as a primary weapon, and not bothering to bring an M4 as a secondary weapon, said Maj. Christopher Conley, who monitored the employment of XM25 on behalf of PEO Soldier.
Lehner said the tests revealed only one problem: The units didn’t want to give the Punisher back.
Not only are U.S. soldiers reluctant to give the new weapon back, they're clamoring for more.
According to CNet, the Army is shopping for 36 more XM25s, with the first batch being deployed within the next year. Funding may prove to be a problem for the others, however, as each launcher costs $25,000 and each round $1,000 apiece, each made by hand. Once the weapon can be mass produced, the Army may buy more than 12,500 additional weapons beginning in 2012.
Here's a bit of the "The Punisher" in action: