A renowned Russian military expert claimed that Russian anti-aircraft missile systems have demonstrated that they can take down M982 Excalibur guided artillery shells that the United States sent to Ukraine.
The editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine, Viktor Murakhovsky, told RIA Novosti that one feature of Russian air defense’s performance during a particular operation was using guided missiles from Russian air defense systems to take out the American M982 Excalibur guided artillery shells.
Incidentally, these are the shells allegedly behind an attack on former Russian space boss Dmitry Rogozin in Donetsk in December 2022. In the aftermath of the incident, DPR officials claimed that Ukrainian forces shelled a hotel and restaurant where Rogozin was staying with high-precision Excalibur rounds.
Ukraine fired the American M982 Excalibur-guided artillery shells from the M777 Howitzers. Viktor, however, also detailed the difficulty associated with shooting down these advanced guided shells. He said these howitzer shells are a challenging target for air defense systems due to their smaller size.
“If, for example, the HIMARS MLRS rocket, which our systems shoot down in large quantities, has a length of 4 meters with a caliber of 227 millimeters, then the Excalibur projectile is only 1 meter long with a caliber of 155 millimeters, this target is much more difficult to track and target.
In addition, a more accurate hit of an artillery shell is required to disable it due to its greater strength,” the expert explained.
According to information in the magazine, this feat was achieved because air defense systems were improved after being used in a special mission. The software and hardware upgrades for the anti-aircraft missile system “Tor-M2U/M2” were promptly completed, enhancing their capacity to counter the most contemporary air threats.
The report, however, stopped short of elaborating on the nature of the upgrades on this anti-aircraft missile system that allow the Russian troops to shoot down the Excalibur-guided shells, as claimed.
In January 2023, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) militia said that these guided shells made up “the most dangerous” part of US military aid to Ukraine and emphasized that they must be destroyed while still in storage facilities. This statement by the Russian-affiliated militia group makes the latest claims even more intriguing.
DPR People’s Militia spokesperson told the media at the time, “This is probably the most dangerous part of the delivery. These munitions are equipped with a seeker and can adjust their flight path upon approaching the target. They are GPS-and intertidal-guided.”
“There can be only one countermeasure – effective counter-battery activities, with strikes at warehouses where those munitions are stored and vehicles transporting them to launchers. They must be prevented from ever being delivered to firing positions,” he added.
The $3.5 billion package announced by Pentagon contained more than 500 M982 Excalibur GPS-guided artillery projectiles. The shells began to arrive in Ukraine and have already caused significant damage to Russia and the DPR forces.
The counteroffensive operations of the Ukrainian military have relied heavily on Excalibur. With pinpoint accuracy, a single guided howitzer shell can completely demolish a target, such as a tank, a bunker, or a supply depot. Moreover, a barrage of traditional, unguided missiles could miss the enemy position. A GPS-guided munition thereby significantly boosts Ukraine’s firepower.
M982 Excalibur GPS-Guided Artillery Shells
BAE Systems and Raytheon collaborated to develop the M982 Excalibur shell. BAE Systems make the body, base, and payload, and Raytheon makes the guidance systems. In 2004, the development effort was coupled with a Swedish-US program to construct a guided artillery munition.
The Excalibur is a GPS-enabled artillery round with a 250–500 foot range. Given the presence of friendly forces or the high likelihood of collateral damage to people or civilian infrastructure, it is frequently used for close support fire operations.
The Excalibur projectile updates the inertial navigation system with an integrated, jam-resistant GPS receiver, giving precise in-flight guidance and substantially improving accuracy to less than two meters.
The Excalibur shell could be launched in any weather or terrain owing to its three fuze options: point-detonation, point-detonation delay, and height-of-burst.
The M-777 155mm Howitzer and other 155mm artillery weapons can fire the M982 Excalibur bullet. Besides the US, the UK and other European countries have also delivered their respective howitzers to Kyiv.
Excalibur has a good chance of hitting high-value Russian targets now that the Ukrainian army is closer to the Russian and DPR troops.
However, if the Russian claims about shooting down these shells are anything to go by, it could be another challenge for the stretched Ukrainian troops due to persisting assault in the east.
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