The M982 Excalibur is a 155 mm extended range guided artillery shell developed during a collaborative effort between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC). The Excalibur was manufactured by prime contractor Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems AB. It is a GPS-guided munition capable of being used in close support situations within 75–150 metres (246–492 ft) of friendly troops or in situations where targets might be prohibitively close to civilians to attack with unguided artillery fire. With more than1,400 rounds fired in combat to date, the Excalibur artillery projectile is the revolutionary, extended range, precision munition for U.S. and international artillery forces.
Excalibur was developed as a longer-ranged alternative to conventional artillery shells, with GPS guidance for improved accuracy. Excalibur has a range of approximately 40 to 57 kilometres (25 to 35 mi) depending on configuration, with a circular error probable (CEP) of around 5 metres (16 ft) to 20 metres (66 ft). The extended range is achieved through the use of folding glide fins, which allow the projectile to glide from the top of a ballistic arc towards the target. It has a multi-function fuze that can be programmed to explode in the air, once it hits a hard surface, or after it penetrates inside a target. One Excalibur projectile can accurately hit an intended target that would require the use of between 10 and 50 unguided artillery rounds.
There are three versions of the system. Initial development effort was towards Increment I; Milestone C decisions will be made on Increment II and III in FY2013 with a demonstration of those capabilities by 2020.
- Increment I has a unitary penetrating warhead for use against stationary targets.
- Increment II “Smart” projectile for moving and time-sensitive targets. May carry either 65 DPICM or two SADARM submunitions.
- Increment III “Discriminating” projectile “to search, detect, and selectively engage individual vehicles by distinguishing specific target characteristics”.
Increment Ia-1: Accelerated development, reduced range round. Entered service in 2007 (XM982), Increment Ia-2: Extended range round with resistance to GPS jamming (M982), Increment Ib: Full capability, reduced cost, mass-production round (M982A1). Excalibur S: In June 2013, Raytheon initiated an internally funded program to upgrade the Excalibur Ib with a semi-active laser targeting capability. The SAL seeker will allow the shell to attack moving targets or those that have re-positioned after firing, and to change the impact point to avoid collateral damage. Excalibur N5: Version of the Excalibur S downsized into a 127 mm (5.0 in) shell to give naval guns mounted on destroyers and cruisers the ability to fire extended range guided projectiles.Raytheon is also considering a millimeter wave seeker for fire-and-forget operations.
The Excalibur munition is compatible with every howitzer with which it’s been tested. This weapon is fully qualified in multiple systems, including the M777, M109 series, M198, the Archer and PzH2000. It’s also compatible with the AS90, K9 and G6 howitzers. Plans are underway to integrate it with other mobile artillery systems. The Excalibur projectile’s precision, coupled with its ability to be integrated on multiple gun systems, enables both the U.S. and its coalition partners to provide overmatch capabilities against land targets in a variety of combat environments. Sweden, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands have chosen the Excalibur precision-guided projectile to address vital security interests, and several other international partners are finalizing procurement plans.