U.S. Army Continues Excalibur Guided Artillery Shell Production

by: Matthew Potter
April 22, 2011

Category: Business Line, Companies, Contract Additions, Contract Awards, development program, Events, production program, Raytheon, Services, U.S. Army | RSS 2.0

Raytheon (RTN) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Army for the production of 155 mm guided artillery rounds. The Excalibur system adds GPS guidance to a extended range round. 155 mm is the standard size of artillery in use by the Army and U.S. Marine Corps in both self propelled and towed models. The contract is for just over 2,000 rounds and has a total value of almost $173 million.

The Excalibur has been in development for several years and went into service in 2007. It has led to longer range and more accurate artillery ammunition. The 1a-2 version ordered with this contract has the ability to hit targets almost 25 miles away and should have a Circular Error of Probability (CEP) of about 10 meters. Raytheon is also working on a development contract to build the 1b version of the round that should be ready in 2012. The 1b will be more reliable and cheaper through design and manufacturing improvements while maintaining the same performance as earlier versions.

With all of the focus on improved air delivered weapons such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) GPS guided bomb it is forgotten that the U.S. and its Allies continue to use systems like mortars, artillery pieces and rockets to provide fire support for their troops engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan. As with all such systems incremental improvements in guidance, propulsion and other technology have offered significant improvements to these type of systems and their ordnance.

While artillery may seem old fashioned and out of place on the current battlefield it does offer precise, effective fire support in some situations. The use of a round like Excalibur only improves that capability as it can hit targets and minimize collateral damage. Artillery is also available 24/7 when air support from fixed wing or rotary assets may not be.

It can be expected that such programs will continue to see investment by armies and improvements in range, accuracy and destructive effect will only grow.

Photo from Jim Bahn flickr photostream.

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