Asymmetric Dialogue

US Army’s Armor Piercing Tungsten-Cored XM1158 Round

Tangentially Related: Current 5.56x45 M855 green tipPhoto by: Alex Brandon / Associated Press
The first photographs of the tungsten carbide cores for the US Army’s new XM1158 round have surfaced. The Army’s 7.62x51mm XM1158 Advanced Armor Piercing (ADVAP) round featured in the US Army’s Manufacturing Technology program 2018 Fiscal Year Update as one of their successful programs.
The XM1158 round is said to provide improved performance against barriers and armour likely to be encountered by infantry. The XM1158 is expected to replace the army’s older M993 armour piercing ammunition. Last month Nathaniel explained that the new round is based on the design of the M80A1 Enhance Performance Round but instead of a steel penetrator is has a tungsten one. Nathaniel also revealed that the round is estimated to cost as much as $13 a round!
The MANTECH update gives us a first look at the production methods and core of the round itself:
XM1158 tungsten penetratorsPhoto by: US Army
The high initial cost of the round is a surprise as the Army’s stated aim with the new round was to ‘drive down component costs.’ The MANTECH update explains that “Green machining decreases the product cost by increasing the efficiency of producing complex shapes and configurations. More than 50,000 components were produced using this method.”
The update goes on to list the benefits of the new production system and tungsten carbide core:
– Reduced cost of producing the penetrator ($20 to less than $5)
– Reduced time to produce the penetrator (from 15 minutes to 30 seconds)
– Anticipated assembly rate of 60 parts per minute for the bullet with faster tooling changes
It also notes that the new production methods “will also be applicable to many families of ammunition as well as other areas outside ammunition where manufacturing of complex tungsten shapes is required.”
While the aim is to reduce the cost of ‘producing’ the penetrator to less than $5, as Nate noted in his earlier article the new round will still be more than twice as expensive as the current M993 Armor Piercing round which costs just $2.9 per round. It is unclear if the earlier reported expensive per round cost reflects tooling and production start up costs or if it takes into account the new manufacturing processes developed. Regardless of cost the new round is earmarked for use with the Army’s new Squad Designated Marksman Rifle and will likely be fielded in 2019.