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Russia ‘Squeezes’ The Calibre Of Hard To Intercept, US-Supplied, GPS-Guided Artillery Munition, The Excalibur

On November 27, the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that its air defense units had successfully intercepted an Excalibur precision-guided artillery munition near Miropolye, Sumy region. 

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The US-supplied Excalibur has proven crucial in Ukraine’s counteroffensive operations. With pinpoint accuracy, a single guided howitzer shell can completely demolish a target, such as a tank, a bunker, or a supply depot. 

Furthermore, a GPS-guided munition greatly enhances Ukraine’s firepower because a volley of conventional, unguided projectiles could miss the enemy position. Nevertheless, it is believed that this is the first instance when Russian defense systems have destroyed the US-made Excalibur artillery shell.

In a statement, the Russian MoD said, “Two HIMARS MLRS rockets were shot down by air defense near Bogdanovka (Kherson region). In addition, an Excalibur artillery guided round was intercepted near Miropolye (Sumy region).”

The Russian military reportedly intercepted the American-guided projectile when it approached the target. It is understood that the main challenge in intercepting such projectiles is their small size and high speed. 

Besides that, the possibility of its detection is exceedingly low because the munition, which is nearly a meter long, has peculiarities in its trajectory. However, Russia has not specified which air defense system intercepted the Excalibur precision-guided artillery munition.

Recently, the US-supplied munition hogged the limelight for annihilating the Russian howitzers. On November 25, social media users started sharing a video of what looks to be a Russian Howitzer artillery being wrecked by an attack from Ukrainian forces.

The video clip depicts Russian soldiers running away from the scene just before an Excalibur high-precision GPS-guided artillery shell obliterates the Howitzer concealed in the trees.

A Twitter user shared the video with the caption, “A Russian Msta-B 152mm towed an M982 Excalibur of the Ukrainian army on the left bank of the Dnipro River, Kherson Oblast.”

The US provided Ukrainian forces with the M982 Excalibur weapon, regarded as one of the most accurate artillery projectiles. Excalibur’s digital fire control system is preprogrammed with the precise coordinates of the designated target. 

M982 Excalibur Artillery Shells

The M982 Excalibur is a 155mm artillery round with an extended range. The M982 Excalibur 155mm round can be fired from 155mm artillery systems, such as the US M777 lightweight field howitzer.

Raytheon and BAE Systems collaborated on the development of this munition. Raytheon provides guiding systems, while BAE Systems manufactures the body, base, and payload. The development effort was integrated in 2004 with a joint Swedish-US program to develop a guided artillery munition.

It was known as the XM982 throughout development and testing. Excalibur’s first firing experiments from the M777 lightweight field howitzer took place in 2003.

Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions
File Image: Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions

The artillery round is GPS-enabled and can strike within 250 to 500 feet of the target. As a result, the M982 Excalibur is generally utilized for close support fire operations where friendly forces are present or there is a high risk of collateral damage to civilians or civilian infrastructure.

After launch, the fins spring out, allowing it to modify its trajectory to land in the desired area. Excalibur rounds cost about $100,000 each, whereas 155mm rocket-assisted projectiles like the XM1113 cost about $15,000 each.

The M982 Excalibur can significantly increase the firepower of Ukrainian forces and further enable them to conduct precision strikes to destroy significant Russian targets.

The Excalibur projectile employs an inbuilt jam-resistant GPS receiver to update the inertial navigation system, enabling precise in-flight guidance and significantly increasing accuracy to less than two meters.

The Excalibur projectile can be used in all types of weather and terrain and has three fuze options: point-detonation, point-detonation delay, and height-of-burst. According to the US Army, Excalibur can engage targets with first-round effects-on-target while limiting collateral damage and the number of rounds needed to engage targets.

One disadvantage of GPS-guided shots is that a moving target may have relocated by the time the round arrives. Laser-guided shells are said to be more accurate due to their ability to zero in on a target that a laser designator has illuminated.

The Excalibur S variant has the option of using a semi-active laser. However, it seems improbable that the Ukrainians received these. The US, Sweden, Australia, Canada, India, and the Netherlands are other countries that use this munition.

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