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September 27, 2003


I don't know if Heckler & Koch is an American company. Well, of course there is a US corporation but the company originated in the ruins of the Mauser works in post WW2 Germany. They have apparently dominated the imagination of the US Military with their newest rifle, a sophisticated affair called the OICW.

OICW stands for Objective Individual Combat Weapon, and has gotten the designation M29. It's a rather massive thing for a machine gun and is chockablock with goodies like timed explosive rounds. If your enemy is behind a wall, you can use the rangefinder and program a bullet shot just over the wall to rain down deadly shards at the precise moment. The theory is that this capability will shorten standoffs against the enemy in 'dug-in' positions, not to mention save ammo.

This gun is going to cost about 15,000 apiece and weigh about three times as much as the standard M16, but such considerations mean nothing in videogame simulations. This is how I came to recognize the OICW. The Ghost Recon Island Thunder online game for the XBox allows you to select this weapon for your three member platoons as you carry out missions in a post-Castro Cuba. In gaming this is a great weapon, and your avatar doesn't seem to run any slower with it.

The Germans have come back in their characteristically precise way in helping us to understand the technical specifications of the OICW and other arms as represented in the Ubisoft game. At RainbowSix.org one can check out the Detallierte Waffenlisten.

RPGs seem to be doing a great deal of damage these days in Iraq. The deployment of the M29 may herald a new era in which every rifleman will have equivalent firepower on the go. H&K will definitely play a significant role in the future of urban warfare. With any luck, this expensive, heavy and deadly weapon will not be just a videogame fantasy.

Posted by mbowen at September 27, 2003 09:42 AM

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