Raytheon Missile Systems has conducted live firing tests of its Excalibur S semi-active laser (SAL) guided artillery projectile against a moving target.
Conducted at the Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona in April 2019, but not disclosed until 5 February this year, two Excalibur S rounds were fired from a I55 mm M777 towed howitzer against a 3×3 m moving target, which was designated by a ground lasing system. The tests also validated the Excalibur S projectile’s ability to survive the shock and stress of a howitzer firing, then transition from global positioning system (GPS) to laser guidance. The range for the Excalibur S projectile fired from an M777 is approximately equivalent to that of the Excalibur Ib, fired from the same weapon: approximately 35–40 km.
The testing was conducted in collaboration with the US Office of Naval Research (ONR), which is evaluating moving target artillery capabilities for the US Marine Corps, which fields the M777. An initial test of the Excalibur S was conducted at Yuma in 2014. Trevor Dunwell, product area director for Raytheon Missile Systems, told Jane’s additional Excalibur S tests for ONR are planned this year, but he was not cleared to disclose the timeline or testing location.
A Raytheon-funded development of the 155 mm M982A1 Excalibur Ib GPS-guided artillery projectile, Excalibur S supplements the GPS technology of the Excalibur Ib with a digital SAL seeker. The SAL sensor is activated in flight to detect reflected laser energy on a target, providing precision terminal guidance against moving targets, and an ability to engage all targets without accurate location information. The Excalibur S also reduces the risk associated with operating in a GPS-contested environment, and existing Excalibur Ib projectiles can be upgraded with the new Excalibur S capability.
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