Raytheon and the US Army have successfully demonstrated production maturity and effectiveness of the Excalibur Increment b (Ib) precision-guided extended-range projectile during an extensive First Article Test series at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona, US.
Around 30 GPS-guided Excalibur Ib projectiles were fired from the Paladin and M777 howitzers to various targets at ranges from 7km to 38km, during testing, with an average miss distance of 1.6m.
US Army Excalibur programme manager lieutenant colonel Josh Walsh said Excalibur provides the warfighter with a pinpoint precision tool to eliminate enemy threats.
"This weapon continues to prove itself in testing but, more importantly, it continues to prove itself on the battlefield," Walsh said.
Raytheon Land Warfare Systems product line vice-president Michelle Lohmeier said the testing and other recent trials clearly demonstrate the projectile's ability to deliver true precision to any 155mm howitzer and the decisive advantage it provides the warfighter.
Lohneier said, "The first round effects demonstrated by Excalibur provide an all-weather, immediate response, precision strike capability for the maneuver force.
''Its efficiency increases operational effectiveness, reduces the unit's logistics burden and can improve deployability of the force."
Designed to evaluate performance and reliability of the Excalibur Ib production configuration, the test series advances the programme toward full-rate production.
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.
The projectile, equipped with a non-spinning fixed and fewer parts, follows a simplified development approach compared with Excalibur Ia, to meet the army's objectives for improved reliability at significantly reduced costs.
The company has also funded 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, which will mitigate target location errors and support attack of mobile targets, while ensuring precision effects when GPS is either degraded or denied.
A live-fire demonstration of the new weapon, called Excalibur-S, is planned to take place in early 2014.
Image: US soldiers prepare an Excalibur precision artillery round for firing at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah in Iraq. Photo: courtesy of Sgt. Robert Jordan, 30th HBCT PAO, MND-B.