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August 22, 2006


A press release detailing the Army's effort to continually refine (and keep tactically relevant) the artillery inventory. A subject of some discussion around here of late.

Successful Testing of GPS-Guided Artillery Projectile Puts Raytheon-BAE Systems Bofors Excalibur Closer to Fielding (Source: Raytheon Co.; issued Aug. 18; 2006)

TUCSON, Ariz. --- The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully test-fired two global positioning system (GPS)-guided 155 mm artillery projectiles that functioned as intended against simulated tactical targets Aug. 10. The program is a cooperative effort between the United States and Sweden.

These firings represent completion of the "Guided Gunfire B" (GGB) test series that validates system performance of tactical rounds under a variety of conditions.

"Having completed this phase of testing, we are on track for fielding Excalibur to meet the urgent need of our deployed ground forces for a cannon-delivered precision munition," said Army Col. John Tanzi, Training and Doctrine Command System, manager-cannon.

Heh. I knew John Tanzi, back in the day. The rest is in the Flash Traffic/Extended Entry.

The projectiles were fired from the M109A5 howitzer during the tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The Excalibur rounds in the GGB firing series were conditioned at extreme hot and cold temperatures, subjected to shock and vibration testing to simulate tactical transportation, set with the portable Excalibur fire control system, and fired at a range of 22 kilometers (about 13.6 miles). These rounds also were fired at 5 degrees off-axis to demonstrate the projectile's enhanced maneuverability and operational flexibility.

"The Excalibur team continues to demonstrate better than required accuracy and design maturity," said James Riley, Raytheon Land Combat product line vice president. "The program is now in production to meet early fielding requirements. Now that both Excalibur and Extended Range Guided Munition have tested successfully with tactical configuration hardware, Raytheon is positioned to provide the only family of guided projectiles for U.S. forces."

The Excalibur program currently is responding to an urgent request from the warfighter to accelerate fielding because of the projectile's better than 10-meter (33-feet) accuracy that is not available from any other artillery projectile. Because of its accuracy and increased effectiveness, Excalibur reduces the logistical burden for deployed ground forces. Excalibur also provides lower collateral damage through its concentrated fragmentation pattern, increased precision and near-vertical descent.

It produces a wide range of effects in all terrain at extended ranges and in all weather conditions. With 155 mm howitzers part of the standard organization in current operations, Excalibur's precision effects are readily available to small-unit maneuver elements.

In addition to demonstrating the ability to survive environmental conditioning, tactical transportation, extreme cold and hot condition and gun launch, the two GGB test shots successfully acquired GPS signals and impacted fewer than 10 meters from the aim points. Previous successful guided shots have consistently demonstrated a similar degree of accuracy. These impact accuracies are significantly better than the required 10-meter circular error probable, an objective requirement for the Block IA development.

Subsequent testing between now and the end of the year, including completion of the sequential-environment safety test series, production verification tests and first-article tests, will support upcoming Army reviews to certify Excalibur and the portable Excalibur fire control system for urgent fielding early in fiscal year 2007.

Two GGB firings on July 21 provided beneficial test data to support rapid-response system improvements. They demonstrated the effectiveness of earlier improvements and again proved the high reliability of many components, including a safety measure that prevents the warhead from detonating when the round impacts outside the intended target area. Testing will continue to demonstrate performance and reliability for early fielding.

Raytheon Company, with 2005 sales of $21.9 billion, is an industry leader in defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft. With headquarters in Waltham, Mass., Raytheon employs 80,000 people worldwide.