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M982 Excalibur

Guided artillery shell

M982 Excalibur

The US M982 Excalibur guided shell is accurate out to 5 meters and even better

 
 
Country of origin United States
Entered service 2007
Caliber 155 mm
Projectile weight 48 kg
Warhead weight 22 kg
Explosive content 22 kg
Range of fire 40 km
Guidance GPS-guided
CEP 5 m
Hit probability ?

 

   The M982 Excalibur is a US extended-range GPS-guided shell. It was designed to engage stationary targets with pinpoint accuracy. It became a successor to the M712 Copperhead laser-guided artillery projectile. Developed of a new unguided munition with increased range started in the United States in 1992. This projectile was jointly developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems. Raytheon supplies guidance systems, while BAE Systems produce body, base and payload. In 2004 development program was merged with a joint Swedish and US program to create a guided artillery munition. During development and trials it was known as the XM982. The first firing trials of the Excalibur from the M777 lightweight field howitzer took place in 2003. Low rate initial production of 500 rounds was approved in 2005. During development and trials it was known as the XM982. Operational test firings of this round from the M777A2 were completed in 2007. The M777A2 upgrade includes software which allows to use this GPS-guided projectile. Excaliburs by that time had already been fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Excalibur was first used operationally in Iraq in 2007. Its performance was impressive. The rounds proved to be extremely accurate with a CEP of just 5 meters. In 2015 United States planned to procure a total of 7 474 Excaliburs. In 2016 the unit cost including development costs was reportedly $258 777. This actually made the Excalibur more expensive than the M777 field howitzer. By 2016 the unit cost was reduced to $68 000. The Excalibur is used by the US Army and Marine Corps. By 2018 over 1 400 Excalibur rounds were fired in combat. This ammunition is also in service with Sweden, Australia, Canada, India, and the Netherlands. Norway expressed interest in obtaining these guided rounds.

   The Excalibur is compatible with 155 mm artillery systems, such as US M777 lightweight field howitzer, M109A6 Paladin and M109A7 self-propelled howitzers. It is also compatible with other 155 mm artillery systems, such as German PzH 2000, South Korean K9 Thunder, Japan's Type 99 and other 155 mm artillery systems.

   The Excalibur has forward-folding fins. Due to its fin stabilization this projectile has near pinpoint accuracy. The CEP is only 5 meters or even better. Operational experience in 2007 in Iraq revealed that 92% of the rounds are falling within 4 meters of the target. So the Excalibur is extremely accurate. This gives it the ability to be safely delivered in much closer proximity to friendly troops or civilian structures than unguided projectile usually allows for. In fact it can be used just 75-150 meters from friendly troops. This minimizes damage to friendly forces and various civilian structures.

   The programmable guidance system allows the weapon crew to set the Excalibur to land on a specific geographic location, allowing frontline troops calling-in fire missions to specific high-priority targets for destruction by single projectiles (for example a particularly problematic enemy pillbox). In addition to its GPS guidance the Excalibur also has inertial guidance, which not only allows the projectile to maintain its ballistic arc, even against heavy jamming, but also allows some guidance capability when GPS is unusable altogether (though it won't be as accurate). The Excalibur is resistant to GPS jamming.

   One Excalibur round can hit a target that would otherwise require of between 10 and 50 unguided artillery rounds.

   The Excalibur uses different types of munitions depending on the variant. The baseline version weights 48 kg and carries a 22 kg High Explosive (HE) warhead.

   The fuse can be programmed to explode in the air, on contact with hard surface or after it penetrates inside a target.

   Early production version of the Excalibur, the XM982, that entered service in 2007 had a maximum range of 23 km. Though during the same year series production of a baseline M982 round with a maximum range of 40 km communed. The Excalibur demonstrates the 40 km range when fired from a 155 mm/L39 weapon, such as an M777 lightweight field howitzer or M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzer.

 

Variants

 

   M982A1 is a reduced cost mass production round. It seems that it entered service in 2016. It has the same capabilities as the M982 round.

   Excalibur S is an improved version with an added semi-active laser guidance. It can engage moving targets, or targets that have repositioned after firing. Development of this munition was initiated by Raytheon in 2013 as a private venture.

   Excalibur N5 is a smaller 127 mm version of the Excalibur S. It was specially designed for naval guns, used on destroyers and cruisers.

   Excalibur EST (Excalibur Shaped Trajectory) is a version, which can approach the target at an angle. It was demonstrated in 2018 and deployed shortly afterwards.

   GP155B is a Chinese copy of the Excalibur.

 

 

 
M982 Excalibur

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M982 Excalibur

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M982 Excalibur

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M982 Excalibur

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M982 Excalibur

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