Raytheon and Bofors Defence AB, a United Defense subsidiary, team successfully
conducted the first fire test of a satellite-guided 155mm artillery shell under
the Excalibur program.
The 155mm Excalibur artillery shell relies upon a GPS-based navigation/guidance
system to precisely engage its intended target. This navigation system must
overcome extreme G-force during gun launch. The advanced projectile is being
developed jointly by the United States and Sweden and is expected to become
operational in 2006 with the armies of both countries.
The test was conducted in early November this year. Excalibur shell hit the
intended aim point with a CEP less than 3.4 meters (11-ft) and ranging about 20
kilometers from the firing location. The XM777 howitzer and the tactical
propellant charge of the Modular Artillery Charge System-four (MACS-4) were used
to fire the innovative Excalibur round. All test parameters were within the
Excalibur program specifications which makes this test a real success.
The Excalibur round has been designed to hit the target at a near vertical
descent using its control actuator system. This feature is exceptionally
suitable for urban warfare due to the limited space available between city
structures. In addition to affordable precision strike, Excalibur will
significantly reduce logistical burden when deployed with ground forces at any
part of the world.
Using the 39-caliber M777 gun Excalibur will be able to hit targets ranging up
to 40 kilometers (24.8 miles). Using a 52-caliber gun, such as those owned by
Sweden ground forces, the maximum range expands to 50 kilometers (31 miles).
Current US Army plans call for the first Excalibur round to be fielded along
M777 howitzer in fiscal year 2006 to a Stryker brigade of the US Army 25th
Infantry Division. Since then, M777 lightweight howitzer will replace the proven
155mm M198 howitzer in the US Army inventory.
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