AAI’s Rifle-and-Grenade-Launcher Combo Went Nowhere

The U.S. Army lost interest after decades of development

AAI’s Rifle-and-Grenade-Launcher Combo Went Nowhere AAI’s Rifle-and-Grenade-Launcher Combo Went Nowhere
The U.S. Army’s Objective Individual Combat Weapon program launched in December 1993. The goal was to develop a new, ergonomic infantry weapon combining a rifle... AAI’s Rifle-and-Grenade-Launcher Combo Went Nowhere

The U.S. Army’s Objective Individual Combat Weapon program launched in December 1993. The goal was to develop a new, ergonomic infantry weapon combining a rifle and grenade launcher and possessing superior hit probability at intermediate and long ranges — 500 and 1,000 meters, respectively.

The OICW had to be better than the existing M16A2 rifle with its attachable M203 grenade launcher.

The program combined elements of the Advanced Combat Rifle and Close Assault Weapon System programs from the late 1980s. Alongside the OICW, the Army hoped to also develop a new personal-defense weapon and a new general-purpose machine gun.

AAI’s OICW. Source

AAI competed with Heckler & Koch for the OICW contract.

AAI developed its OICW proposal with the help of a number of other manufacturers including Dyna East, Olin, Hughes, Omega and FN. The AAI design featured an in-line stock with a bullpup 20-millimeter grenade launcher mounted above a 5.56-by-45-millimeter, AR-style assault rifle. The AAI weapon boasted advanced optics with a built-in laser rangefinder

The grenade launcher used ballistic computer and rangefinder technology to pre-set the grenades to explode above or next to targets, allowing the shooter to engage concealed targets. Warhead options included high-explosive and fragmentation.

Heckler & Koch’s XM29. Photo via Wikipedia

AAI’s design was innovative, but Heckler & Koch’s own OICW design ultimately won out. The Army designated it XM29. After a number of years of testing, in 2005 the Army cancelled the OICW program altogether.

The effort wasn’t a total waste, however. The OICW inspired the M320 grenade launcher and the XM25 air-burst munitions system.

This story originally appeared at Historical Firearms.

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