XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon

OICWThe Objective Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) is the lethality element of the Land Warrior program. It is also planned to be fielded as a stand-alone system.

The OICW, designated as XM29 by the US Army, is a developmental infantry weapon system that will revolutionize the close combat fight by substantially improving the infantry soldier’s effectiveness.

XM29 Objective Individual Combat Weapon is unique, full-solution target acquisition/fire control system combined with precision 20mm air bursting ammunition provide a significant overmatch capability against today’s threats, resulting in a dramatic increase in soldier survivability.


The XM29 is one of the premier programs within the new Program Manager Soldier Weapons Office in the Program Executive Office Soldier Systems.

The XM29, developed by Alliant Techsystems and H&K, fires special air-bursting projectiles and standard 5.56mm ammunition. As of 2005 the XM29 was still is too heavy and unwieldy for Army requirements. Instead of scrapping the XM29, the Army decided to perfect each of XM29’s components separately, so soldiers can take advantage of new technology sooner. The parts would be brought back together when lighter materials become available.

objective individual combat weapon

XM29 is an integral part of the Land Warrior system and, as such, will provide a tremendous enhancement in tactical and operational capability when fielded. The XM29 also is planned for introduction into the Objective Force as an individual system for both the Future Combat Soldier and the Objective Force Warrior. In the Objective Force, it will be linked to a networked battlefield environment, further benefiting the overall force capability.

soldier with oicwThe XM29 has a dual semi-automatic over and under configuration capable of firing 20mm air bursting ammunition or NATO standard kinetic energy 5.56mm ammunition. Both weapons are magazine-fed, providing the combat soldier an operational firepower advantage over current single shot systems.

The full-solution target acquisition fire control has a laser range finder, direct view optics, integrated thermal imager, ballistic computer, fuze setter, environmental sensors, and compass. The precision 20mm ammunition includes High Explosive Air Bursting (HEAB) and Target Practice (TP) variants. The system has been demonstrated at ranges two to three times the current 40mm system to accurately deliver an air burst one meter over the lased target on the first shot fired.

The XM29 Integrated Air Burst Weapon will replace selected M16 rifles and M4 carbines. The modular, dual-barrel XM29 will combine the lethality of the 25mm family of munitions and 5.56mm NATO ammunition with a full-solution fire control to effect decisively violent and suppressive target results and to greatly improve small arms performance. This fire control will incorporate a laser rangefinder, ballistic processor, direct view optics, electronic compass (bearing, tilt, and cant), thermal sighting, and an internal display.

The XM29’s precision airbursting 25mm ammunition is capable of defeating not only exposed targets, but those in defilade (targets that have taken cover behind structures, terrain features, and/or vehicles), a capability lacking in current direct fire rifles and carbines.


The XM29 will provide an overmatch in system effectiveness while increasing its ability in providing effective day/night operation. It provides a significant increase in lethality for a basis of issue of four XM29s per Infantry Squad. It mitigates the aim error associated with standard KE ammunition by providing the option of firing a 25mm air-bursting projectile with a low-arc trajectory.

The XM29 will be compatible with the digital battlefield and will provide the lethality upgrade for the Objective Force Warrior. Spiral Development is being used to accelerate the fielding of both weapon subsystems separately in advance of the dual-barrel system.

The XM25 is the component that provides the airbursting performance and the XM8 is the KE component of the XM29. The XM8 is currently undergoing accelerated development to allow early fielding to replace M4 Carbines and M16 Rifles.


This weapon has performance better than or equal to the M4, offers increased reliability, is configurable to meet mission requirements by easy barrel changeout, and integrates sighting and pointing/illuminating devices. Lethality modules include a 40mm grenade launcher as well as a 12-gauge shotgun module.

The 40mm grenade launcher, designated the XM320, can be used in a stand alone mode or as a separable under-barrel module with the M16 Rifle, the M4 Carbine, or the XM8 Carbine. The shotgun module is also used under-barrel on the M4, M16, or XM8. Both modules are currently under development as SEP Programs.

xm29While an M16 costs under $1000, OICW may cost $10,000. That is because OICW is a single system consisting of a fire control and combinatorial weapon.

The functions contained within the system include the “add-ons” now used on the M16 or M4 such as optics, thermal weapon system, and aim light. With these functional add-ons, the existing M16/M4/203 system cost exceeds $35,000 each.

The XM29 program focused on verifying system safety and launching into the full scale engineering design of the weapon, fire control, and ammunition. The XM29 demonstrated the integrated system capability “end to end” on three different test sequences over the multiple phases of the program. These results validated that it is technically low risk to field this leap-ahead capability in shoulder-fired HEAB ammunition.

The target acquisition fire control was upgraded, primarily focusing on reducing weight by integrating the latest laser, sensor, optics, electronics, and material technologies. It incorporates improved, low-weight optics for daylight viewing and integrated thermal optics for use at night.

As the lethal element of the Land Warrior, it has been designed to integrate with the Land Warrior, allowing the XM29 to communicate from the fire control to the Land Warrior heads-up display and also to accommodate power sharing between systems.


The weapon was also being upgraded with a focus on weight reduction and ruggedization. Weight optimization is the primary driver for every weapon piece part and component. The program team is evaluating alternate weapon operating principles that support weight reduction. Additional enhancements are also being made to ensure ruggedness and boresight retention between the 5.56mm barrel, 20mm barrel, and fire control.

oicw-xm29As of 2002 initial fielding of the XM29 was scheduled for GFY08. The XM29 program has implemented a block upgrade or “evolutionary” approach to fielding the weapon system. This encompasses an “initial fielding” of a “Block 1” system, which is designed to enable insertion of future technology enhancements.

This approach will expedite completion and qualification of the initial Block 1 design, while preplanning future upgrades, such as advances in sensors and electronics technologies, MEMS fuze elements, advanced composites and materials, fuel cells, Nano technologies, ceramic gun barrels, wireless connectors, and future digital technology.

These enhancements will help further reduce system weight, increase lethality, improve ruggedness, and increase system reliability and effectiveness beyond the Block 1 design. As of 2002 the XM29 project schedule was aligned so the First Unit Equipped (FUE) supports the fielding of the Future Combat System (FCS). This positions the Block 1 XM29 FUE in GFY08.

The OICW will not replace all of the M16s/M4s. The current U.S. Army Basis of Issue (BOI) is 4 OICW weapon systems per 9-man squad.

oicw-xm-29ATK Integrated Defense, Plymouth, Minnesota, is the XM29 system integrator and provider of the 20mm HEAB ammunition. Brashear, LP of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is responsible for the target acquisition fire control.

Heckler and Koch (H&K) of Germany is the weapon system developer and manufacturer, and Omega, Columbus, Georgia, is responsible for training concept planning.

This integrated team has worked together for several years, bringing the system through the concept development and proof of principle phases into the current system development phase. Recently, the program successfully passed the Milestone 1a decision, clearing the path for final development and fabrication of the initial Block 1 weapon system.

By late 2003 the XM29’s development was progressing, but it was overweight and years behind schedule. Originally, the weapon was supposed to begin production in 2005, but that date now has been pushed back to the end of fiscal year 2010.

Designers struggled with the air-burst munition, and fought to reduce the weapon’s weight. The original prototype of the XM29 weighed 18 pounds, which Army officials said was too heavy. By 2010, plans call for the weight to drop to 15.5 pounds [up from an initial goal of 14 pounds].


In early 2004 it was decided to speed up development of its components as separate weapons, instead of developing the XM29 gradually. The rifle portion wasa developed as the XM8, and the grenade launcher would become the XM25 Air Burst Weapon. In addition, it was decided tha the XM25 would fire a 25mm air-bursting munition, rather than the 20mm planned for the XM29.

Following the increase of the caliber of OICW grenade launcher component from 20mm to 25mm [the same as used in the OCSW], in July 2004 it was decided to split the OICW system into two separate weapons, the 5.56mm XM8 modular assault rifle (OICW Increment 1), and the 25mm XM25 airburst assault weapon / grenade launcher (OICW Increment 2). Development of the complete XM29 (OICW Increment 3) system was shelved, and will be resumed once the OICW Increment 1 and 2 components are developed, and weight constraints of entire system are met.

Source: Global Security

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