London, June 5 (ANI): The US army has developed a rifle capable of firing explosive bullets that may enable its soldiers to fire on snipers hiding in trenches, behind walls or inside buildings.
The XM25 rifle can detonate within a metre of a target.
It is believed that the new rifle will provide US soldiers with an alternative to calling in artillery fire or air strikes when an enemy has taken cover, and can't be targeted by direct fire.
"This is the first leap-ahead technology for troops that we've been able to develop and deploy. This gives them another tool in their kitbag," New Scientist magazine quoted Douglas Tamilio, the army's project manager for new weapons for soldiers, as saying.
The rifle's gunsight uses a laser rangefinder to calculate the exact distance to the obstruction, after which the soldier can add or subtract up to 3 metres from that distance to enable the bullets to clear the barrier and explode above or beside the target.
The 25-millimetre round fired by the rifle contains a chip that receives a radio signal from the gunsight as to the precise distance to the target.
A patent granted to the bullet's maker, Alliant Techsystems, reveals that the chip can calculate how far it has travelled.
"You could shoot a Javelin missile, and it would cost $70,000. These rounds will end up costing $25 apiece. They're relatively cheap," Tamilio says.
John Pike, a defence analyst with Washington DC think tank GlobalSecurity.org, says: "This airburst shell gives the close-combat capability of a grenade launcher, combined with the ability of indirect fire weapons to hit stuff on the other side of the wall."
The rifle will initially use high-explosive rounds, but its makers say that it might later use versions with smaller explosive charges that aim to stun rather than kill.
Field tests on the new rifle are expected to begin soon, with the US army hoping to begin using it by 2012. (ANI)