WASHINGTON — A new version of Raytheon’s Excalibur precision-guided munition demonstrated in a U.S. Navy test at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, that it can change course to hit moving targets.
The Excalibur S proved it can “survive the shock and stress” of being fired from a Howitzer, then transition from a GPS-guided capability to laser guidance and hit a moving target, a Feb. 5 company statement said.
The "S" version has GPS and a semi-active laser seeker to get after mobile land and maritime targets in GPS-contested environments without a loss in range capability.
The Army and the Navy both use Excalibur Increment B projectiles, which can be upgraded with the S capabilities, the company said.
“Using artillery to engage moving targets gives soldiers more flexibility,” Sam Deneke, Raytheon’s land warfare systems vice president, said in the statement. “Artillery is typically used to hit stationary objects, but Excalibur S expands the capability of artillery on the battlefield.”
Excalibur is a known to be a precise weapon, typically hitting less than 2 meters from the target, according to Raytheon.
Excalibur has been fired more than 1,400 times in combat. The Army shot a round from the gun tube of a prototype of the service’s Extended-Range Cannon Artillery system and hit a target at 62 kilometers. The service is developing the ERCA system as part of its Long-Range Precision Fires modernization program, which is the Army’s top priority within its modernization portfolio.
The prototypes consist of a Paladin howitzer with an M109A7 chassis that upgrades the Paladin Integrated Management’s turret with a 58-caliber, 30-foot-long gun tube capable of shooting farther than 70 kilometers.
The Army is also aiming to compete for Cannon-Delivered Area Effects Munitions this fiscal year, which would upgrade the Excalibur airframe with an armored target seeker and will be able to defeat “moving and imprecisely located armored targets at long ranges” and will be fully compatible with the Army’s howitzers as well as ERCA and the M777 Extended-Range version, according to fiscal 2020 budget documents.
Jen Judson is the land warfare reporter for Defense News. She has covered defense in the Washington area for 10 years. She was previously a reporter at Politico and Inside Defense. She won the National Press Club's best analytical reporting award in 2014 and was named the Defense Media Awards' best young defense journalist in 2018.