Excalibur S GPS/laser-guided artillery shell homes in on moving target

Excalibur S GPS/laser-guided a...
The Excalibur S uses GPS and lasers to hit moving targets
The Excalibur S uses GPS and lasers to hit moving targets
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The Excalibur S in flight
The Excalibur S in flight
The Excalibur S uses GPS and lasers to hit moving targets
The Excalibur S uses GPS and lasers to hit moving targets

Raytheon and the US Navy have successfully fired a precision-guided munition that can be fired from a howitzer and zero in on a moving object. The recent test of the Excalibur S round not only demonstrated its ability to switch from GPS to laser guidance to find its target, but also that its electronics and sensors can withstand the shock of being fired out of a gun.

The Excalibur S is the latest variant of Raytheon's Excalibur line of smart projectiles. Developed by Raytheon and BAE Systems Bofors, it uses the GPS technology from the Excalibur Ib, and combines it with a semi-active laser seeker that allows it to home in on moving land and maritime targets with a miss radius of under two meters (6.5 ft).

The Excalibur system is designed to work with a variety of artillery and can extend the range of a .52 caliber gun to over 50 km (31 mi) to hit or damage its target with the first round. When the Excalibur S is first fired, it uses GPS to make its initial target fix, then switches over to its laser sensor to home in on an outside targeting beam.

The Excalibur S in flight
The Excalibur S in flight

According to Raytheon, one Excalibur round can do the work of 10 conventional rounds and the Excalibur S package can be used to upgrade previous Excalibur iterations.

"Using artillery to engage moving targets gives soldiers more flexibility," says Sam Deneke, Raytheon Land Warfare Systems vice president. "Artillery is typically used to hit stationary objects, but Excalibur S expands the capability of artillery on the battlefield."

The video below shows the test of the Excalibur S for the US Navy.

Excalibur S test

Source: Raytheon

Captain Danger
"a .52 caliber gun to over 50 km (31 mi) to hit or damage its target with the first round" That doesn't sound right to me. .52 is smaller than a 20 mm Cannon, It looks like there is some type of rocket assist on the shell which may account for the increase in range , 30 miles is pretty impressive however I wonder what he cost of each round is? 10 dumb rounds may be less expensive than one smart round. Also I wonder how much the shell is able to change course. In the video the target was moving away from the round and the shell only need to alter its course in one direction. I suspect that under real world conditions the results would not be so impressive, I think that well place observers or drones and a quick barrage would be just as or more effective.
Captain Danger is right to question "a .52 caliber gun ". Even if that were 52mm, it's only a 2 inch gun -- too small for the performance listed. Many of the questions Danger asked will have classified answers, or answers that will change as we move from prototype to production. Even if 10 dumb rounds are somewhat cheaper than one smart round, we would need to factor in the costs of transporting extra weight, the cost and exposure of personnel to load and fire, and the cost of the extraneous damage from the dumb rounds that missed. On balance, I'd say the army is on the right track.
So the laser is in the middle of the target - yet the shell hits off to the side - actually almost misses. Gonna guess all that electronics reduces the payload, so is it really going to be that more effective than the 10 dumb rounds with larger payloads which may also wing a target but deliver a larger payload
Douglas Rogers
Definitely not .52 caliber. Looks like 2.5 in. Has rocket exhaust.
I'd say that at any real distance the entire tracked target is not huge (from an artillery viewpoint) so both are probably "close enough" for an explosive payload.
Reinaldo Rivera
The .52 caliber must be an error. It should be a full number. Caliber in howitzers refers to the length muzzle to breach. In this case: 155mm x 52= 8,060 mm long cannon. However, the new ERCA will be 58 caliber, not 52.
For some reason the military specifies the barrel length of howitzers and cannons in multiples of the guns caliber. The shell is almost certainly of 155 millimeters in diameter so they're talking about gun with a barrel length of 155mm X 52 or just over 8 meters in length. The range of up to 50km is reasonable for a weapon of that size. The .52 caliber number is an error.
Calibre for artillery is length divided by bore so 52 would be a 5.7 metre gun on 110mm . The flames out the back could be a base bleed charge to reduce drag, doesn`t have rocket effect. I think it`s steered by the fins at the rear.
They're 155mm ammo. That's enough to make a target rue the day it was born.