US: Raytheon Company and the US Army completed Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) for Excalibur Ib during a series of successful tests. This milestone moves the programme one step closer to full rate production. During IOT&E, artillerymen from Fort Riley's 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery fired numerous Excalibur Ib rounds, scoring several target hits and averaging less than two meters miss distance. "Excalibur's performance and reliability continues to reach new levels in every test event. This projectile is exceeding all of its key performance parameters, and the Army's artillerymen continue to sing its praises,” said Lieutenant Colonel Josh Walsh, US Army Excalibur Product Manager.
Excalibur Ib is the newest variant of the 155mm GPS-guided projectile. IOT&E is administered by the US Army's Test and Evaluation Command and performed by an active-duty artillery battalion in a tactical environment. Raytheon expects the Army to announce a full rate production decision by mid-year. "Excalibur is a model programme. It is an excellent example of a government-industry team working together to put a critical capability into the hands of our warfighters,” said Michelle Lohmeier, Vice President of Raytheon Missile Systems' Land Warfare Systems product line.
Raytheon is also funding a programme to augment the combat-proven Excalibur with a laser spot tracker (LST), giving the weapon a dual-mode GPS/LST guidance capability. The company is planning a live-fire demonstration of Excalibur S this year. Laser guidance will mitigate target location error, enable attack of mobile targets, and can ensure precision effects when GPS is either degraded or denied. The LST can also be incorporated into the 5-inch Excalibur naval variant the company is also developing. Excalibur N5 will use the same guidance and navigation unit produced for the Ib. Raytheon is planning a live fire demonstration of Excalibur N5 later this year.