X-GUN: the innovative 30mm counter UAS "sniper".

(To Andrea Cucco)

The development of a 30mm is not a simple gamble, it involves years of confirmations, unexpected events and failures. If you want to replicate something known the challenges are simpler, to create a small revolution you need to be patient and persevere.

Leonardo presented a new family of weapons including the X-GUN, a system that today could lend itself perfectly to the needs of modern warfare, starting from that counter UAS.

But let's proceed slowly. A bit of recent history...

The decision to venture into the new caliber was made in 2017. The following year a first prototype of the cannon was already created and in 2019 the first volley was fired at a rate of 200 shots per minute.

The work of the technicians and engineers sees the weapon tested and overturned many initial solutions or settings: the result must be reliable and innovative, no compromises, you want a compact and lightweight cannon, equipped with an innovative power system.

Although the official never predicts difficult backgrounds, we discover that they have been tough years (including the pandemic): the components tested to the limit, some redesigned and the suppliers, when not up to par, waved goodbye and replaced.

In 2021 the "linkless" version was created (linkless feeding system, where the ammunition is stored in internal containers or drums that are directly fed into the firing mechanism) and in 2022 the "linked" version (uses ammunition belts that are connected together by metal links or other material). Both variants maintain 80% parts in common.

In the meantime the GCU (Gun Control Unit) is ready.

The first definitive examples of the X-GUN arrive in 2023, marked as SN001, SN002 and SN003 leading to industrial qualification.

The final version reduces the prototype by 25 kg and perfects it (reducing the size of the ammunition feeder and moving the electrical one of the weapon), bringing the total amount of components to 173 kg. An excellent result.

In 2024, the STANAG certifications will be achieved ("Standardization Agreements" are agreements that define standardized processes, terms and conditions for common procedures and military equipment used by NATO member countries).

Integration with a platform will take place in 2025. The X-GUN, if integrated with the best on land, could provide the entire European continent with the best infantry fighting vehicle.

Safety in use and shooting

One of the characteristics in the dynamics of the machine gun is that the weapon is constantly safe: without activation there can be no case of accidental firing.

No “misfire”

The term refers to the malfunction of a firearm in which the shot is not fired despite the trigger being pulled. This can happen for several reasons, such as a defect in the cartridge, mechanical problems in the firing pin or firing mechanism, or a disruption in the dynamics that should lead to the gunpowder exploding.

A "misfire" can be dangerous because the bullet could become lodged in the barrel and cause damage or injury if you attempt to fire another shot without first fixing the problem.

In the case of the

Sniper mode: "sniping" with a 30mm

Thinking about concrete use, Leonardo's engineers have developed a particular mode, the "sniper" one: the machine gun takes in the shot and paralyzes all the mechanical systems to provide the weapon with maximum precision and rapidity of firing.

For anyone who knows a shooting range, the thought of being able to accurately deliver a shot at a distance of (at least) 3 kilometers must represent a "dream", a suggestion that could save many lives and make a significant difference, in a time when the trenches are reality again.

In the film “The Deer Hunter” (The Deer Hunter) a stellar Robert De Niro taught in 1978 “one shot!”. If a result and less suffering, also given the sophistication of the ammunition, can be achieved without wasting bursts, why not listen to them!

"Multi Fragmentation - Air-Burst Munition”: the anti-drone/loitering ammunition shot

The best bow is useless without arrows to match. The X-GUN involves the use of programmed fragmentation munitions (mainly for air defense): a fundamental but relatively recent technology, having been introduced in the early 2000s.

The projectiles are programmed via an on-board computer that communicates with a sensor in the muzzle to determine the exact moment of release of the projectile, thus allowing the timer for the explosion to be set extremely precisely. We underline that the ammunition is not only programmed depending on the distance from the target, but also on the individual travel speed of the barrel! An initial precision work that leads to a perfect final trigger.


In 8 years Leonardo has created a cutting-edge product. The ongoing war already calls for air defense systems from drones and circuit ammunition (not forgetting artillery shots) which could have their champion in the X-GUN.

The integration of the X-GUN will take place on the dated vehicle that "very unpatriotic" companies wanted to impose years ago on our Army or on the best in Europe which could at this point be upgraded for a resounding international commercial success?

Leonardo seems to have done his part very well. Will politics and defense leaders do theirs?

Let's move! If we had a modern combat vehicle for every conference held to "discuss" it, we would have millions of them!

We are in the third year of a global conflict that has not yet shown its real destructive potential. In the next 3-4 years it could be, thank goodness, concluded. In the next 3-4 years orHowever, every day lost could greatly multiply the cost in human lives, in the current painful conditions.

Our soldiers, while anxiously looking at the clock (and NOT the 2037 calendar like others), await a response in the shadow of old and inadequate combat vehicles. Means conceived (automatically) over 40 years ago and produced when already obsolete.

Who will bear the responsibility in the global homeland of buck-passing?

Photo: Leonardo / USMC / US Army National Guard / Italian Army