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M982 Excalibur

The M982 Excalibur (previously XM982) s a 155 mm extended range guided artillery shell presently in development by Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors.[1]

Contents

Overview

An M982 Excalibur precision-guided artillery round (center) falls onto a suspected insurgent safe house during combat operations in the northern region of Baghdad May 5, 2007. Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fired the round from their M109A6 Paladin howitzer on Camp Taji, Iraq and this was the first operational use of the projectile.

The "smart" round is expected to have a range of approximately 40 to 57 km depending on configuration with a circular error probable (CEP) of around 10 m. The extended range is achieved through the use of folding glide fins, which allow the projectile to glide from the top of a ballistic arc towards the target. The accuracy is achieved through the use of a GPS guidance system. In contrast, standard U.S. 155 mm shells have a CEP of 200 to 300 m at moderate ranges.[1]

The munition is being developed with $55.1 million in financial assistance from Sweden, which expects to receive service rounds in 2010. As of 2008, unit costs are $85,000, potentially dropping to $50,000 in full-scale production.[2]

Initial combat experience with Excalibur in Iraq in the summer of 2007 was so successful (92% of rounds falling within 4 meters of the target) that the US Army planned to increase the production rate to 150 rounds per month vs the previous 18 rounds per month.[3][4]

The combat value of the projectile was indicated by the US Army's decision to rate it as one of the Top 10 Army Greatest Inventions of the Year Award for 2007.[5][6]

Program status

  • June 2005: Raytheon awarded a $22.1 million contract for initial production.[7]
  • September 2005: Successful demonstration at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.[8]
  • June 2006: Raytheon awarded a $42.7 million contract for fiscal year 2006 production of 335 Excalibur projectiles and related test articles and services.[9]
  • August 2006: Due to technical problems relating to environmental sensitivity and GPS signal lock, the expected in-service date was put back to Spring 2007.[10][11]
  • September 2006: Successful firings in safety testing demonstrate an actual average CEP of 5m or better.[12]
  • May 2007: First operational firing of Excalibur in Iraq.[13]
  • October 2007: FMS request by the Australian Army. Estimated cost US$40m. [14]
  • April 2008: Revised Australian FMS request. Estimated cost US$58m.[15]

Specifications

  • Caliber: 155 mm
  • Guidance: GPS/INS
  • Unit cost: $80,000 [16]
  • Range:
    • Block 1a-1: 23 km
    • Block 1a-2: 35 km to 40 km
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Variants

There are three versions of the system (current development effort is towards Block I):

  • Block I has a unitary penetrating warhead.
    • Block Ia-1: Accelerated development, reduced range round. Entered service in 2007.[11]
    • Block Ia-2: Extended range round.
    • Block Ib: Full capability, reduced cost round. Will be re-opened to competitive selection. Alliant Techsystems has announced its intention to submit an offering based on its Saber technology.[17][18]
  • Block III will carry as yet undefined smart munitions, which are required to be able to "detect, discriminate and engage specified target(s) located in a complex urban environment".

Operators

Weapon systems

The round is compatible with the following weapon systems:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "XM982 Excalibur 155mm Precision Guided Extended Range Artillery Projectile". Globalsecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/munitions/m982-155.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-27.  
  2. ^ Cannot Get Enough Excalibur
  3. ^ Aviation Week & Space Technology, 2007-09-03, page 20
  4. ^ Swedish missile among US army's favourites in Iraq The Local, 2008-08-22
  5. ^ US Army Awards Top 10 Inventions of 2007 Defense Industry Daily, 2008-07-27
  6. ^ Greatest Army inventions of 2007 Announced, US Army, 2008-07-08
  7. ^ Find Articles - United States Army Aug 2005
  8. ^ Troops could have new Picatinny-developed smart artillery munition by March - RDECOM Magazine
  9. ^ XM982 Excalibur - Deagel
  10. ^ Strategy Page - Excalibur Freeze Out
  11. ^ a b Strategy Page - Excalibur Delayed Again
  12. ^ Successful Safety Testing of GPS-Guided Artillery Projectile Puts Raytheon-BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur Closer to Fielding - Raytheon
  13. ^ "America’s First Team first-ever to fire Excalibur precision munition in combat". http://www.hood.army.mil/1stcavdiv/news/stories/07May/may128.htm.  
  14. ^ Defense Security Cooperation Agency, 1 October 2007
  15. ^ Defense Security Cooperation Agency, April 2008
  16. ^ Strategy Page - Excalibur Gets Closer and More Expensive
  17. ^ "Production effort for the XM982 Excalibur unitary warhead sub-assembly". http://www.fbodaily.com/archive/2006/12-December/14-Dec-2006/FBO-01195066.htm.  
  18. ^ "ATK Successfully Tests Advanced 155mm Projectile - ATK PR". http://atk.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=press_releases&item=362.  
  • Jane's Ammunition Handbook 2003–2004

External links


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