The Raytheon Missile Systems and BAE Systems Bofors' Excalibur team successfully concluded safety testing of the Excalibur global positioning system-guided 155 mm artillery projectile. Excalibur is the next-generation family of projectiles for U.S. Army and Marine Corps artillery.
The Sequential Environmental Test-Safety (SET-S) series of 15 Excalibur projectiles took place Aug. 24 to 30. The program is a cooperative effort between the United States and Sweden.
The success of the SET-S series brings the team closer to the early fielding goal. The next steps prior to fielding to deployed forces early in 2007 are production verification tests, first-article tests and a limited user test.
The projectiles were fired from an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during the tests at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz. The Excalibur rounds in the SET-S firing series were conditioned at extreme hot and cold temperatures, subjected to shock and vibration testing to simulate logistical and tactical transportation, initialized with the portable Excalibur fire control system, and fired at much higher than normal charge levels to demonstrate safety margin in the projectile design. Some of the rounds also were fired at 5 degrees off-axis to demonstrate the projectile's enhanced maneuverability and operational flexibility.
The goal of the SET-S series is to verify that Excalibur is safe to handle, transport, and fire as part of the Army's safety confirmation for fielding. Despite the over-margin test conditions, Excalibur continued to exceed its accuracy requirements. Average CEP (Circular Error Probability) was demonstrated at about 5 meters (16.5 feet), significantly better than the 10- meter (33 feet) requirement. One projectile detonated with devastating effects less than two feet from the target center.
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 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. It also provides lower collateral damage through its concentrated fragmentation pattern, increased precision and near-vertical descent.
Excalibur 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.