Raytheon Receives $22.1M to Deliver Excalibur GPS Shells Ahead of Schedule
The U.S. Army awarded Raytheon Company a $22.1 million contract for initial production and early fielding of 155mm Excalibur GPS-guided artillery shells, a cooperative effort between Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems subsidiary Bofors Defence of Sweden. Raytheon will provide Excalibur projectiles, testing, manufacturing tooling, test and inspection equipment, projectile shipping/storage containers, and training support necessary to provide initial capability to the Army in fiscal year 2006, more than 3 years ahead of when full operational capability will be achieved.
As DID noted in our May 9/05 article The Next Generations of Smart Shells, the Excalibur program is a key element in the transformation of cannon artillery to provide responsive precision strike capability for the U.S. Army.
This contract follows on the heels of months of successful testing. In November 2004, the contractor and Army Excalibur team successfully fired the world’s first GPS-guided 155mm artillery projectile, which navigated to a target 20km down range, impacting 3.4m from the aim point. In December 2004, the program repeated the test and struck within 6.9m. Both results were well within the Excalibur performance specification.
Excalibur will conclude developmental testing and deliver the first production rounds by the end of 2005, as part of a system which includes an AFATDS (Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System) update for Excalibur and approximately 14 stand-alone fuze setters to be fielded to M109 Paladin self-propelled artillery units serving in Iraq.
Excalibur shells will also be compatible with the Army and Marine M777 lightweight howitzer. The Marines have recently begun fielding the weapon, and the U.S. Army will field the M777 next year when it forms the Stryker Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division.
Raytheon Missile Systems is also the leading developer of the Navy’s 155mm Extended-Range Guided Munition (ERGM). Excalibur and ERGM leverage many common components and supplier partnerships, and apply industry best practices across both projects. Raytheon News Release
FEB 7/06 UPDATE: Excalibur is running into issues with its bqckup INS guidance system, wehich is a problem as the shells don’t always get the GPS signal successfully. StrategyPage’s James Dunnigan also explains why the 1999 Indo-Pakistani Kargil war was pivotal to the development of this latest generation of American smart shells.