It’s one of our nation’s newest weapons — a 50mm cannon that can hit enemies more than twice as far away as the current system employed on our tanks. And it’s a beautiful thing.
According to The National Interest, the new cannon, manufactured by Northrop Grumman, was on display at the defense contractor’s 2019 Bushmaster User Conference in Kingman, Arizona.
“As a small ball of fire shot out of the end of a new 50mm cannon, a cloud of smoke filled the air and, in what seemed like less than one second, an explosion of smoke and fire destroyed a mock enemy target from hundreds of yards away — on the other side of an Arizona desert valley,” Kris Osborn wrote in a piece published last Friday.
“The explosion was precise, burning and shattering a metal target in successive shots of three to five rounds. This blast effect, weapons developers explain, is precisely the intent for the Army’s new 50mm weapon — to bring a longer-range, more-lethal measure of firepower to medium caliber armored vehicle attack.”
The weapon, referred to experimentally as the XM913, can easily best the current M242 cannon used on the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. That cannon can hit targets at a range of about two kilometers, or 1.24 miles.
The XM913 can hit targets at more than twice that distance, Northrop Grumman says.
“Dozens of countries have either parity or overmatch to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s M242,” the company said in a statement.
“The 50mm canon, built by Northrop Grumman, is engineered to blend a variety of emerging, high-tech armored vehicle attack technologies into a single system — to include advanced fire-control, automated targeting sensors, next-gen ammunition, new computer processing speed and longer-range medium caliber attack options,” Osborn notes.
It’s worth noting that while it’s called a cannon, the XM913 is actually a chain gun, which uses “an external source of power to cycle the weapon rather than diverting energy from the cartridge,” allowing it to fire in a continuous loop. Northrop Grumman says that the gun was developed using technology from the 30mm gun used on the AH-64 Apache helicopter.
The cannon is designed not only to be powerful but also flexible enough to be used on future military tank platforms, including the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle, which is meant to replace the Bradley. It certainly isn’t the only new weapon we’ve seen out of the military of late. Take the Next Generation Squad Automatic Rifle, a rifle so advanced it can pack the power of a tank cannon.
“Armed with the NGSARs, soldiers will have the confidence of knowing the new weapon can be relied on for stopping power against sophisticated adversaries who arrive to fight in advanced body armor,” Fox News reported last year.
“The goal is for the weapon’s chamber pressure to achieve similar levels to battle tanks. Recent conflicts have shown that currently issued weapons have not been sufficient when tackling the challenge of forces with defense innovation and access to modern equipment.”
“The aim is for the NGSARs to fire bullets at pressure levels similar to those achieved by tanks when they fire,” the report continued.
The rifle can pierce through body armor at 2,000 feet, “allowing soldiers to accurately shoot while maintaining a safe distance from the threat whenever possible.”
And some of the military’s next-generation weapons don’t even use bullets. For that, there’s the Active Denial System, a sort of invisible “pain ray” that deters individuals without firing any weapons.
While a slightly older system, it got attention last year when Glenn Beck proposed it as a way to deal with issues at the border without using tear gas or other forms of crowd control.
Whatever the case may be, however, it looks like the future of American military weaponry looks bright indeed — and that should put the fear of God into our enemies.
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