Raytheon has secured approval from the US Army to begin full-rate production (FRP) of its Excalibur Increment b (Ib) precision-guided, extended-range projectile.
The army also awarded a $52m contract to Raytheon for continued Excalibur Ib production.
US Army Excalibur product manager lieutenant colonel Josh Walsh said: "The full-rate production decision is the culmination of superb teamwork between the US Army and Raytheon."
The army awarded a type classification standard to the projectile earlier this year, while approving it for full materiel release (FMR), confirming that the projectile has been fully tested, meets operational performance requirements and is safe for use.
In addition, the certification confirms that the projectile can be supported logistically within its intended operational environment.
Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said: "The army's approval of FMR and the decision to enter full-rate production represent major milestones that many potential customers have eagerly anticipated.
"Excalibur has revolutionised cannon artillery, making it possible to engage targets precisely at long ranges while avoiding collateral damage, a capability that appeals to military leaders around the world."
All Excalibur lb projectiles scored direct hits on their intended targets during recent tests.
Based on the combat-proven Excalibur Ia-1 and Ia-2 projectiles, Excalibur Ib is a 155mm precision-guided, extended-range projectile that uses GPS precision guidance to offer soldiers an accurate, first-round, fire-for-effect capability in any environment.
The projectile follows a simplified development approach compared with Excalibur Ia, and addresses the army's objectives for improved reliability at significantly reduced costs.
Raytheon also evaluated Excalibur S, which incorporates a laser spot tracker in the guidance section, at Yuma Proving Grounds, US, in May.
The company is developing a 5in / 127mm maritime variant of the projectile called Excalibur N5, with plans for a live-fire demonstration later this year.
Image: Excalibur Ib is an upgraded version of the Excalibur artillery round. Photo: courtesy of Sgt. Henry Selzer.