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November 10, 2006

Maybe I should start dealing in arms...

CAPT H sends us a link to this article on CTV.ca.

Excalibur 155mm Unitary Round

Military to buy new shells costing $150,000 each Updated Thu. Nov. 9 2006 11:09 PM ET

The Canadian Forces are investing in a new high-tech shell to be used in Afghanistan. But at $150,000 per round, it could be the most expensive ammunition ever fired by the military.

"It's like shooting a Ferrari every time you use one of these things," Steve Staples of the Polaris Institute told CTV News on Thursday.

"These are incredibly expensive weapons. And really, it's overkill for the kind of mission we're doing."

What caught my eye was the price tag. Last I saw on Excalibur was $220K a pop, with a hope for full-rate production to drive it down to $33K (pretty optimistic based on past experience). I did some checking, and $150K is in the neighborhood. What really caught my eye was this:

But the Excalibur costs roughly $100,000 more than a regular shell, and critics like New Democratic MP Dawn Black argue the extra money would be better spent on reconstruction projects.

Heh. Just what is a "regular" projectile to these people? Last I saw a price, oh, 2003 or so, a standard 155mm HE went for $240 w/o fuze. I did some digging, and I found some pricing for some stuff in the works, usually a form of special fuze or add-on guidance package that can go as high as $20K for some long-range navy stuff in the works.

Well, gosh! I've got inventory in the basement I'll let go for, oh, shucks, $15K each, delivered! And I've got some friends with inventory, too.

The problem is that the article, written by someone who doesn't know much about the subject, I'm guessing, implies that that cost is a standard cost for artillery ammo, which it isn't - at least not currently. Shoot, a GMLRS round only costs $65K per light-off... hmmmmm.

Anyway, for a more Canadian view of this topic, I recommend Damian's post at The Torch.

John | Permalink | Comments (11) | Artillery
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Comments on Maybe I should start dealing in arms...
Boquisucio briefed on November 10, 2006 09:15 AM

Hmmm: The neighborhood is stating to get crowded. But for Massa John, I'll make an exception.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 10, 2006 09:17 AM

I think my customers will mostly be museums, anyway. And they're always trying to cadge them as donations, the cheep bassids.

J.M. Heinrichs briefed on November 10, 2006 09:58 AM

Ours have the Maple Syrup option?

Cheers

Heartless Libertarian briefed on November 10, 2006 10:38 AM

So, for the price of one Excalibur, a battery (6 guns) of 155s could fire somewhere around 1,000 HE shells EACH.

Which would be fun to watch, though probably somewhat tough on the guns and gunners.

MajMike briefed on November 10, 2006 10:43 AM

and it's got a Unitary Penetrating Payload. what do they have against those nice unitarians?

Trias briefed on November 10, 2006 11:13 AM

$150K? Somebody is making some phat profits.

Damian briefed on November 10, 2006 11:27 AM

$150K? Somebody is making some phat profits.

You're probably right, Trias. But I'm guessing the R&D to put precision guidance on something that gets jarred the way an artillery round does wasn't cheap.

I see stuff like this as similar to a new prescription drug: you're not just paying for the pill, you're paying for the team of scientists who worked on it for the past ten years (not to mention the lawyers who made sure it got through the regulatory maze, the marketing team, etc).

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 10, 2006 12:26 PM

HL - yeah, but the Gun Bunnies would love the first hundred or so...

If we fired lower charges, we wouldn't need to retube...

KCSteve briefed on November 10, 2006 01:09 PM

You know, if you fire one of these you're pretty sure of hitting your target.

But if you fire 100 'plain' rounds you're really sure of hitting your target and you save a whole lot of money.

Me, I'm cheap.

Damian briefed on November 10, 2006 01:23 PM

You know, if you fire one of these you're pretty sure of hitting your target.

But if you fire 100 'plain' rounds you're really sure of hitting your target and you save a whole lot of money.

Me, I'm cheap.

Y'know, KC Steve, I'm not sure you finished that line of thought. Because if you fire a hundred of those rounds where Canadians are operating in Kandahar province, you're not only really sure of hitting your target, you're really REALLY sure of hitting a whole bunch of things and people that weren't your target. And then, instead of hunting Taliban in a neutral or semi-cooperative environment, you're hunting them in a pissed-off and hostile one. Which, it goes without saying, is more difficult and more costly both in terms of money and of soldiers' lives than it absolutely needs to be.

Me, I'm cheap too. The Brits have a phrase though: penny-wise, pound-foolish. Maybe I'm just a little longer-term cheap than you on this particular issue.

John of Argghhh! briefed on November 10, 2006 01:40 PM

Target Attack Guidance defines when it's worth shooting one, or 1000.