Defense contractor Raytheon Co. reports it has a new a $173-million contract from the U.S. Army to produce Excalibur precision-guided projectile rounds for use in “in theater,” signaling the start of full-rate production for Excalibur Ia-2.
"War fighters need Excalibur because it provides a level of precision they simply cannot get with other artillery rounds," stated Col. Michael Hartig, U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence. "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."
The Excalibur Ia-2 is an extended-range variant of the M982 Excalibur, a 155-mm extended range guided artillery shell weapon that uses GPS guidance for assault at close range, as in combat on a battlefield when close air support is unavailable. It is currently used by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corp. and provides “first round fire-for-effect capability with accuracy well within 10 meters (32.8 feet) of its target,” according to the contractor. “This accuracy protects war fighters in close proximity to the target and provides an unprecedented precision engagement capability.”
Noting that more than 300 rounds of the Excalibur Ia-2 have been fired in combat, Raytheon said but the Army and Marine Corps have increased their use of the weapon in the past year.
Last August the U.S. Army placed a contract with Raytheon to complete a design for the Excalibur Ib precision-guided projectile. Excalibur Ib will provide a low-risk way to cut the cost of each weapon by an estimated 50% without foregoing the performance standards of the Excalibur Ia.
"From early fielding of Excalibur Ia-1, it has been our commitment to continually develop this capability so that it provides a greater, more affordable benefit to the war fighter," stated Raytheon Land Combat v.p. Michelle Lohmeier. "As we enter full-rate production with Excalibur Ia and qualify our Excalibur Ib, we continue to evolve the design, while staying true to Excalibur's mission to limit collateral damage in theater."