Alliant Techsystems Objective Individual Combat Weapon
[Automatic Rifle]:

American soldiers going into battle in the next century may carry a weapon so advanced it will make today's assault rifle seem as primitive as the muskets fired at Bunker Hill.

For several years, arms makers have been competing to design the rifle future soldiers would use. It had to be a weapon capable of winning on urban battlegrounds as well as in more familiar desert, forest and jungle terrain. The Pentagon dubbed its dream rifle the "objective individual combat weapon," or OICW.

The OICW can be a dual- or single-barrel weapon. The removable top barrel hurls 20mm high-explosive air-bursting fragmentation rounds over the heads of hidden targets more than a half-mile away. The lower barrel shoots NATO-standard 5.56mm ammunition. These "kinetic" rounds provide accurate single-round or suppressive fire bursts at distances up to about 500 yards. A single trigger is linked to both barrels, by way of a laser-guided electronic fire-shot system as sophisticated as what you will find on a modern tank.

The key to the OICW's success in urban warfare is its electronic fire-control system, which enables the rifle to determine when its "smart" 20mm ammunition should detonate. Like conventional explosive rounds, these shells will detonate on impact. However, they also can be set to explode after passing through a wall or sheetmetal. The most impressive and useful feature of these munitions is their airburst capability. A laser rangefinder pinpoints the precise distance at which the fragmenting round needs to detonate, killing the enemy even if he is hiding behind trees or walls, or in trenches.

The Army Infantry Center in Fort Benning, Ga., charged with evaluating new technologies and tactics, agrees. The OICW can take out the types of targets that in the past required an M16 equipped with an M203 grenade launcher. The difference is that the OICW can do the job with pinpoint accuracy. This is a critical advantage when enemies hide among civilians–a prime survival tactic in urban warfare. And the OICW's range of 1000 meters is five times greater than what an M16 equipped with an M203 can achieve.

The OICW will shoot 20mm rounds one at a time and 5.56mm rounds in single shots or 2-round bursts. For direct fire, OICW has a video camera and a video-tracker function. A special-purpose computer puts electronic brackets around a moving target and automatically determines its range. It doesn't do all the work, though, you have to be able to hit the enemy with a laser beam in order to know where it is, as you can't get range information if you can't laser on the guy or near the guy. It isn't as easy as it looks. The diameter of the laser beam is intentionally narrow to keep the rangefinding computer from being thrown off by background clutter.

As in consumer electronics, less is more when it comes to weight. One drawback of the current weapon system is that add-ons bring the weight of an M16 to just under 20 pounds. Production model OICWs will be about 6 pounds lighter. In the field, light weight alone brings a performance advantage. All things considered, Army officials who have evaluated the OICW believe it will provide nearly five times the firepower an infantryman currently carries into the field.

The Pentagon plans to make an initial purchase of 45,000 OICWs, to be in the hands of elite light-infantry units by 2006. The weapons will cost between $10,000 and $12,000 each, plus $25 to $30 for each 20mm air-burst round.

Critics point out that this is more than 20 times the price of a bare-bones M16 assault rifle. But raw numbers can be deceptive. While the basic M16 costs about $500, the must-have options for urban warfare quickly drive up the price. An M16 equipped with an M203 grenade launcher and thermal weapon sight currently costs about $29,000. The complete M16 modular weapon system, with a digital laser, compass, thermal weapon sight and laser pointer, costs $35,000.


14 lbs (6.5 kg) empty.


5.56x45 mm NATO, and special 20 mm high-explosive air-bursting fragmentation.

Barrel Length:

5.56x45 mm NATO: 10 inches / 25.1 cm, 20 mm: 18 inches / 45.7 cm.

Overall Length:

40 inches (100 cm).


Gas operated.

Mode of Fire:

5.56x45 mm NATO: Single shot & 2 round burst, 20 mm: Single shot only.


5.56x45 mm NATO: 1666 ft (500 m), 20 mm: 3333 ft (1000 m).


30 rounds of 5.56x45 mm NATO, and 6 rounds of 20 mm high-explosive.



Made in:

United States.


A completely modular weapon system with full optics, a video catpture and tracking device, and selectable fire control. Due to it's advanced systems and accuracy this weapon gets a +5 to strike on all shots.

[OICW and Alliant Techsystems are copyright of their respective owners]

Writeup by Stryker (

Copyright © 2000, Stryker. All rights reserved.