Raytheon has completed the initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the US Army’s Excalibur Increment b (Ib) precision-guided, extended-range projectile during a series of tests, taking a step forward towards its full-rate production.

Several Excalibur rounds were fired from the army’s 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery, with several hitting their targets.

US Army Excalibur Product Manager lieutenant colonel Josh Walsh said Excalibur continues to reach new levels in every test event.

"This projectile is exceeding all of its key performance parameters, and the army’s artillerymen continue to sing its praises."

"This projectile is exceeding all of its key performance parameters, and the army’s artillerymen continue to sing its praises," Walsh said.

Raytheon Missile Systems Land Warfare Systems product line vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said: "It is an excellent example of a government-industry team working together to put a critical capability into the hands of our warfighters."

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 troops an accurate, first-round fire-for-effect capability in any environment.

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It follows a simplified development approach compared with Excalibur Ia, and addresses the army’s objectives for improved reliability at significantly low costs.

The full-rate production decision is expected to be announced later this year.

Meanwhile, Raytheon is also funding a programme to equip its combat-proven GPS-guided projectile with a laser-spot tracker, giving the weapon a dual-mode GPS / LST guidance capability.

The programme aims to mitigate target location errors and support the attack of mobile targets while ensuring target precision when the GPS is either degraded or denied.

A live-fire demonstration of the new weapon, called Excalibur-S, is planned for this year.

Defence Technology