Not solely content with its brand new counter-drone ‘proximity’ airburst round, the Army is set to fund the development of another do-it-all munition for use with the 30mm chain guns it’s slowly proliferating across its fleet of ground vehicles. 

The service has requested $18.93 million in fiscal year 2024 for the new 30x113mm XM1223 Multi-Mode Proximity Airburst (MMPA) round designed to counter threats from incoming drones and ground troops behind cover, according to budget documents. 

Designed to combat both aerial and ground-based threats in a single mission package, the MMPA will eventually replace both the 30×113mm XM1211 High Explosive Proximity (HEP) and XM1198 High Explosive Dual Purpose rounds currently fielded to U.S. troops to deal with the rise of adversary drones downrange 

“The programmable fuze modes in the munition include proximity airburst to defeat personnel in the open and small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) targets, proximity delay to defeat personnel in defilade, gated proximity airburst for cluttered environments, mechanical point detonate to defeat light materiel targets, and self destruct to minimize collateral damage,” according to budget documents. 

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Like other 30x113mm rounds, the MMPA will see use with the M230LF Bushmaster chain gun that the U.S. military has adopted as the XM914 weapon system for ground combat vehicles from the Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicle to the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The MMPA will be part of the service’s future Maneuver Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) Increment 3 weapons system which, mounted on a Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicle, will also feature the notional Next-Generation Short-Range Interceptor the Army wants as a replacement for the tried-and-true FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air-missile. 

The M-SHORAD Increment 1 consists of a Stryker Infantry Fighting Vehicle outfitted with Stinger and AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, as well as an M230LF chain gun, as our colleagues at The War Zone previously noted, while Increment 2 consists of a Stryker outfitted with a directed energy weapon.

Modernizing air defenses with a new M-SHORAD system has remained a priority for the Army since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 amid a resurgence of Cold War-style tactics in Europe, as Task & Purpose previously reported, with the system’s new arsenal designed with the rising tide of cheap, weaponizable drones across battlefields from Syria to Ukraine in mind.

Indeed, Army munitions researchers have been working on the MMPA concept for the last several years, according to an August 2021 article in the service’s Army AL&T magazine in which officials laid out their vision for a one-size-fits-all medium-caliber ammo solution for mounted troops. 

“Imagine a Stryker vehicle commander taking fire from enemy troops in a protected position, while also in the direct line of fire of an enemy vehicle and with an enemy drone approaching quickly,” the Army wrote. “He calls a fire mission to the gunner, who sets the weapon system to each of the different targets with the press of a button. He selects the MMPA proximity airburst mode, the weapon launches, and the munition bursts within the proximity of the incoming air targets. Seconds later, it bursts above the hidden personnel targets and in point detonation with the vehicle threat. With minimal ammunition, the commander and crew are able to defeat three distinct threats.”

It’s unclear which defense contractor might end up manufacturing the MMPA. The XM1211 and XM1198 rounds currently fielded to U.S. troops are manufactured by Northrop Grumman, per Janes.  

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