The US Army has awarded Raytheon a $173m army fiscal year 2010 contract for the production of Excalibur precision-guided projectile rounds, marking the start of full-rate production for Excalibur Ia-2.

Excalibur is a 155mm precision-guided artillery round and provides first round fire-for-effect capability with accuracy within 10m (32.8ft) of its target, protecting warfighters in close proximity to the target.

Fielded in 2007, the munition uses GPS precision guidance technology and gives combatants life-saving options when secure air support is not available.

US Army Fires Center of Excellence spokesperson Col Michael Hartig said combatants need Excalibur because the munition offers a higher level of accuracy than other artillery rounds.

“Excalibur’s GPS precision makes it ideal in all terrain types, including urban settings and rugged terrain where our soldiers and marines are close to the target,” he added.

The artillery shell is currently used by the US Army and Marine Corps.