Textron Systems Corporation was recently awarded a $354 million contract for the manufacture and supply of XM204 top attack munitions. This contract also includes a five-year low rate initial production contract and a five-year development contract. In addition, the company has been given the opportunity to produce a more lethal version with a remote command and control function.
The US Army has already ordered 117 XM204 units, 38 trainer units and a number of spare parts. A single unit is able to fire four top-attack submunitions. Each dispensing module consists of a Doppler radar, acoustic sensors, and other components. An algorithm determines which type of submunition to use depending on the speed and size of the target. Soldiers will be able to place the modules on the battlefield and retrieve them through radio communication.
The XM204 was developed to meet the US Army Europe operational needs statement, which identified the need for a top-attack munition to destroy armored vehicles. During this year"s System Engineering Review, soldiers and researchers tested the system in daytime and nighttime missions. Their tests showed multiple impacts from the munition.
In the future, the XM204 could be used in a wide range of operations. For instance, the mine could be placed on key Russian supply routes to block Ukraine"s ability to advance. Alternatively, it could be given to Ukraine to combat the nation"s guerrillas.
According to the Army, the XM204 will work on nearly any terrain. As an example, it will be able to attack an enemy combat vehicle from the air or on the ground. When a target approaches, it will be detected by acoustic and Doppler radar sensors. Those sensors will then trigger an algorithm that will deploy the munitions. Afterwards, the munition will launch and strike the target.
According to Textron, the top-attack munitions will support the Army"s long-term Close Terrain Shaping Obstacles Increment 1 program. Ultimately, this program will focus on developing munitions that can be deployed in combination with other systems to create complex terrain-shaping operations.
In addition to the XM204, the Army has begun evaluating other potential munitions that would allow commanders to affect the maneuverability of the enemy. This includes a network of bottom-attack and top-attack munitions, which would be used to target armoured vehicles in the battlefield.
During the development process for XM204, the Army was faced with an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the replacement process was delayed. However, the company plans to have a first production run of XM204 completed by 2023.