The Spanish Army (Ejército de Tierra) has recently completed a series of live-fire tests that mark a significant milestone in their artillery modernization efforts. These tests focused on the M982 Excalibur 155mm precision-guided artillery shells, a cutting-edge munition with advanced guidance capabilities. The trials involved two key pieces of Spanish artillery equipment: the SIAC 155/52 towed howitzer and the M1905 A5 155mm self-propelled howitzer. The successful completion of these live-fire tests demonstrates the compatibility of the Excalibur munitions with the Spanish Army’s artillery assets. The Spanish Army’s journey towards adopting the Excalibur system has been characterized by a comprehensive training program. Military personnel from the Artillery Support Command (MACA, Mando de Artillería de Campaña) received specialized training in the United States, where they became proficient in the operation and utilization of the Excalibur system. This international collaboration has paved the way for the Spanish Army to effectively integrate this advanced ammunition into their arsenal. The acquisition of 250 Excalibur 155mm projectiles over the past two years not only included the munitions themselves but also the auxiliary equipment necessary for calculating and transmitting firing data. This data plays a crucial role in ensuring the precise use of Excalibur munitions, maintaining their accuracy, and minimizing the risk of collateral damage. The Spanish Army is steadfast in its commitment to incorporating target acquisition systems alongside Excalibur munitions, underscoring the importance of precision and safety in modern artillery operations.
The M982 Excalibur, previously known as XM982, is a product of collaborative efforts between the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center (ARDEC), and prime contractor Raytheon Missiles & Defense, as well as other subcontractors and primes. This precision-guided artillery shell is equipped with GPS and inertial guidance systems, allowing it to operate effectively in situations where standard unguided artillery fire may be impractical or pose risks to nearby civilians or friendly troops. Excalibur is designed to be a longer-range alternative to conventional artillery shells, with an impressive range of approximately 40 to 57 kilometers, depending on configuration. This extended range, coupled with a circular error probable (CEP) of only four meters, significantly enhances the precision and effectiveness of artillery strikes. In comparison, unguided Western artillery shells can land up to 150 meters from the target at a range of 24 kilometers. While the Excalibur shell comes at a higher cost of $68,000 per unit, it remains a more cost-effective option compared to guided-missile systems like the M142 HIMARS and M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System, which cost $150,000 per rocket.
The secret behind Excalibur’s extended range lies in its innovative folding glide fins, which allow the projectile to glide from the apex of its ballistic trajectory towards the intended target. This technology sets it apart from other artillery shells and ensures a higher level of accuracy. For those looking for a more budget-friendly alternative, the U.S. Army-designed M1156 Precision Guidance Kit can be used to transform existing 155mm shells into precision-guided weapons. The Excalibur munition is the result of a fruitful partnership between Raytheon Missiles & Defense, responsible for the guidance system, and BAE Systems Bofors in Sweden, which contributed to the body, base, ballistics, and payload of the projectile. Excalibur is specifically designed to minimize collateral damage, making it ideal for engaging targets beyond the range of standard munitions or in situations where precision is vital, such as firing within 150 meters of friendly troops or when the terrain restricts direct fire.What makes Excalibur truly remarkable is its multi-function fuze, which can be programmed to detonate in the air, upon impact with a hard surface, or after penetrating a target. The accuracy and effectiveness of Excalibur are such that a single projectile can achieve the same results that would typically require between 10 and 50 unguided artillery rounds.