The Army's Next-Generation 50mm Cannon Is Ready To Destroy

Kris Osborn

(Kingman, Ariz.) 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.

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 live-fire demonstration, taking place at Northrop Grumman’s 2019 Bushmaster User Conference in Kingman, Ariz., was designed to further prepare the weapon for integration onto armored vehicles and, ultimately, send the new cannon to war. Military representatives from the US and as many as 25 partner nations gathered to see the live-fire demo, which included a host of armored-vehicle weapons and technologies - such as the 50mm cannon.

The cannon attack was part of a live-fire demonstration intended to move the 50mm Bushmaster cannon closer to integration onto a turret and Army armored combat vehicle -- to include the service’s now-in-development Next Generation Combat Vehicle slated to emerge in the mid-2020s.

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.

According to Northrop information, the new 50mm cannon, referred to as the experimental XM913, can hit ranges more than twice as far as the roughly 2 kilometer range of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s existing M242 25mm cannon. “Dozens of countries have either parity or overmatch to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle’s M242,” a Northrop statement says. The 50mm is being engineered to address this potential disparity, by hitting ranges well over 4km.

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