Advanced Individual Combat Weapon
The Advanced Individual Combat Weapon (AICW) was a prototype combination assault rifle and grenade launcher developed in Australia as a technology demonstrator. The AICW combined a standard 5.56 mm assault rifle based on the successful Steyr AUG with a superposed load grenade launcher developed by Metal Storm.
|Advanced Infantry Combat Weapon|
|Type||Bullpup assault rifle/Grenade Launcher multi-weapon|
|Place of origin||Australia|
|Designer||Defence Science and Technology Organisation|
Tenix Defence Systems
|Designed||2001/2002 (CTD Approved) - 2006 (Project End)|
|Variants||Generations VX1 to VX3|
|Mass||6.48 kg (14.3 lb) (Unloaded)|
7.88 kg (17.4 lb) (Loaded)
|Length||738 mm (29.1 in)|
|Barrel length||450 mm (18 in) (Rifle Section)|
|Cartridge||5.56×45mm NATO |
40mm superposed caseless grenades
|Action||Gas operated, Rotating bolt (Rifle Section)|
Superposed, electrically fired (Grenade Launcher)
|Rate of fire||650 rpm (Rifle Section)|
|Muzzle velocity||950 m/s (3,100 ft/s) (Rifle Section)|
95 m/s (310 ft/s) (Grenade Launcher)
|Effective firing range||500 m (550 yd) (Rifle Section)|
300 m (330 yd) (Grenade Launcher)
|Feed system||30-round detachable box magazine|
3-round preloaded barrel (grenades)
|Sights||ITL Viper Multi-Purpose Rifle System |
The AICW was developed by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) in alliance with Metal Storm and Tenix Defence Systems, receiving funding primarily through the Australian Government's Capability and Technology Demonstrator (CTD) program.
The AICW aimed to provide the infantry soldier with the ability to fire multiple grenades without having to reload, and to switch between 5.56 mm ballistic rounds and 40 mm grenades without changing sights, trigger or stance, giving the operator more versatility and reduced reaction times in combat.
The 3rd generation AICW VX3 underwent live-fire testing in July 2005, engaging targets from a test-bed with both 40mm and 5.56 projectiles out to 300m. Stephen Forbes, DSTO Scientific Officer in charge of the AICW CTD, reported that the AICW alliance was “pleasantly surprised” with the weapon's accuracy demonstrating the ability to consistently hit a door or window sized target at 100m. All component technologies, including new technologies such as recoil mitigation, sighting systems, and electronic fire control, were also considered to be successfully demonstrated.
The weapon was not intended to enter service but rather as a concept demonstration to "generate ‘advance-thinking’ within the ADF about the future of small arms". As such, development of the weapon ceased following the successful demonstration of the technology and the completion of the CTD program.
Comparisons with Similar Systems
AICW, with its stacked round grenade launcher, did not require conventional mechanical loading. This made the weapon more compact and potentially far lighter than other combination weapons like the American XM-29 OICW.
According to Stephen Forbes, the AICW compared favorably to the OICW, with a potential production version weighing as little as 7.5kg fully loaded after a predicted 380g weight reduction from the VX3 prototype. The AICW would retain 30 round magazines, overall length of 738mm and 450mm barrel, while the loaded OICW weighed 8.2kg with 20 rounds of 5.56×45mm NATO, a longer overall length of 890mm and a barrel length of 250mm which the DSTO considered ineffective due to reduced velocity and bullet fragmentation. In comparing the ammunition, the explosive radius of the 40mm was also considered to be superior to that of the 20mm and the reduction in velocity deemed acceptable at expected combat ranges.
The AICW, not including sights and ammunition, would have represented increase in weight of up to 20% compared to the M203-equipped F88GLA in service with the ADF at the time. In return, the AICW offered a 25% higher grenade velocity and recoil mitigation for follow-up fire.
|Weapon||Empty Weight||Loaded Weight||Rifle ammunition||Grenade ammunition||Overall Length||Rifle Barrel Length||Unit Cost|
|AICW||6.48 kg (14.3 lb)||7.85 kg (17.3 lb)||30 rounds 5.56×45mm NATO||3 round 40 mm||738 mm (29.1 in)||450 mm (18 in)||N/A|
|S&T Daewoo K11||6.10 kg (13.4 lb)||30 rounds 5.56×45mm NATO||5 round 20 mm||860 mm (34 in)||310 mm (12 in)||$14,000|
|XM25 CDTE||6.40 kg (14.1 lb)||N/A||5 round 25 mm||749 mm (29.5 in)||N/A||$25,000-$35,000|
|XM29 OICW||6.80 kg (15.0 lb)||8.17 kg (18.0 lb)||20 rounds 5.56×45mm NATO||5 round 20 mm||890 mm (35 in)||250 mm (9.8 in)||$12,000|
|QTS-11||4.27 kg (9.4 lb)||<7.00 kg (15.43 lb)||30 rounds 5.8×42mm||1 round 20 mm||950 mm (37 in)||467 mm (18.4 in)|
- Gubler, Abraham (September 2005). "AICW: Australia's Revolutionary Weapon". Defense Today. Vol. 3 no. 5. Australia.
- "AICW - Advanced Infantry Combat Weapon (Australia)". Modern Firearms. Retrieved 22 March 2018.
- "Metal Storm Successfully Tests Advanced Individual Combat Weapon". spacewar.com. Retrieved 22 March 2018.